US scientists create cancer-detecting nanoparticles

May 28th, 2008 - 4:39 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, May 28 (Xinhua) US scientists have created the smallest iron oxide nanoparticles to date for cancer detection by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The research team from Brown University created peptide-coated iron oxide nanoparticles, about 8.4 nanometers in overall diameter. They then injected the particles into mice and successfully tested their ability to locate a brain tumour cell called U87MG, the university announced Tuesday.

The magnetic nanoparticles operate like tiny guided missiles, seeking and attaching themselves to malignant tumour cells. Once they bind, the particles emit stronger signals that MRI scans can detect.

The results have been published online this week in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. Nanoparticles are important in MRI detection because they enhance what scientists refer to as the “contrast” between the backgrounds, such as water molecules in the body, and a solid mass, such as a tumour.

They plan to test the particle’s ability to bind with other tumour cells in further animal experiments.

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