Smart nanoparticles regulate body temperature, treat cancer

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Scientist from the University of Surrey in the U.K. and China's Dalian University of Technology have developed smart nanoparticles capable of killing cancer cells and self-regulating heat to protect healthy tissue, according to a study published in Nanoscale.

Tumor cells can be killed or weakened, with heat within a range of 42 to 45 degrees Celsius but inaccurate heat placement could harm healthy cells. In response, researchers developed implantable thermotherapy nanoparticles capable of self-regulating their heat after treatment.

"This could potentially be a game changer in the way we treat people who have cancer,” said Ravi Silva, head of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey. “If we can keep cancer treatment sat at a temperature level high enough to kill the cancer, while low enough to stop harming healthy tissue, it will prevent some of the serious side effects of vital treatment.”

The zinc-cobalt-chromium ferrite nanoparticles are implanted into the patient and heated up to a temperature high enough to kill the cancerous cells then self-regulate their temperature once they reach 45 degrees Celsius. Following the thermotherapy, the nanoparticles regulate their own temperature as to not harm healthy tissue.

"Magnetic induced hyperthermia is a traditional route of treating malignant tumors. However, the difficulties in temperature control has significantly restricted its usage If we can modulate the magnetic properties of the nanoparticles, the therapeutic temperature can be self-regulated, eliminating the use of clumsy temperature monitoring and controlling systems,” said Wei Zhang, associate professor from Dalian University. “By making magnetic materials with the Curie temperature falling in the range of hyperthermia temperatures, the self-regulation of therapeutics can be achieved. For the most magnetic materials, however, the Curie temperature is much higher than the human body can endure. By adjusting the components as we have, we have synthesized the nanoparticles with the Curie temperature as low as 34 degrees Celsius. This is a major nanomaterials breakthrough."