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Tiny magnets made within naturally occurring magnetic bacteria could be developed for use in cancer treatments, following successful strengthening of the nanomagnets for the first time by scientists at the University of Edinburgh.
The research could help to create targeted anti-cancer therapies. The nanomagnets could be guided to the site of a tumour magnetically and then use heat from an external magnetic field to either destroy the cancerous tissue or release drugs attached to the magnets.
Naturally occurring magnetic bacteria form bio-nanomagnets in a chain within the bacteria rather like beads on a string. Their formation is very uniform and they are compatible with living organisms, which makes them more suitable than man-made nanomagnets for use in medical applications.
Scientists have grown magnetic aquatic bacteria in a cobalt metal solution, creating cobalt-doped bio-nanomagnets with strong and controllable magnetic properties, increasing the scope of applications for these bio-nanomagnetic materials.
These enhanced bio-nanomagnets may also have applications in electronic devices and high density data storage devices.
The research, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), was carried out alongside scientists at Daresbury Laboratory in the UK and the Institut Laue-Lengevin in Grenoble, France, and has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
About University of Edinburgh
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* to sustain and develop its position as a research and teaching institution of the highest international quality and to benchmark its performance against world-class standards;
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* to produce graduates equipped for high personal and professional achievement; and
* to contribute to society, promoting health, economic and cultural wellbeing.
As a great civic university, Edinburgh especially values its intellectual and economic relationship with the Scottish community that forms its base and provides the foundation from which it will continue to look to the widest international horizons, enriching both itself and Scotland.
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Dr Sarah Staniland
University of Edinburgh School of Biological Sciences
0131 650 7121
University of Edinburgh Press Office
0131 651 4401
Professor Andrew Harrison
University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry
and Institut Laue-Langevin
+33 47 620 7100
+33 63 002 2984
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