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Remote-Controlled Nanoparticles with Platform Potential Range of Biomedical Applications



Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIONs) already have widespread application in the biomedical field, including in vitro diagnostic tests such as nanosensors,in vivo imaging, and therapies such as magnetic fluid hyperthermia or drug delivery. There is further potential, since enhanced ability to control the movement of these nanoparticles remotely and with high precision would have far-reaching implications in many areas of nanomedicine.

MSK investigators and collaborators have been able to induce and precisely control the rotational movements of SPIONs around their own axis by using a unique dynamic magnetic field (DMF) generator. This contrasts with prior studies, which have used high frequency alternating magnetic fields that cause apoptosis via heat induction, Significantly, the team used rotational nanoparticle movement to remotely induce cell death in vitro. This was accomplished by targeting antibody-conjugated SPIONs to lysosomal membranes and generating oscillatory torques to cause membrane permeabilization in the lysosomes, which led to the eventual induction of apoptosis in cells. The investigators also have demonstrated that an alternating current superconductor (ACSC) can be used to greatly enhance the magnetic field amplitude, so that the field can penetrate deeper into a body.

These exciting results suggest that DMF treatment of targeted nanoparticles could serve as a noninvasive tool/treatment to induce apoptosis remotely in specific cells (i.e. cancer). The technology also could serve as an important platform technology for a wide range of other applications, such as controlled drug release from vesicles, or the use of lysosomal membrane permeabilization to release sequestered drugs and combat resistance.


  • Allows for potential targeted, noninvasive treatment of cancer cells

  • Induces apoptosis without generating heat sufficient to result in off-target cell damage

  • Allows for targeting of specific cellular structures, surface markers, and membranes


The global nanomedicine market was projected to be around $100 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach US$135 billion by 2021. Nanoparticle platforms able to target and treat specific cells in vivo hold significant commercial potential across a broad range of cancers.


  • Zhang E et al. (2014) Dynamic magnetic fields remote-control apoptosis via nanoparticle rotation. ACS Nano (PubMed link)


Therapeutics, nanomedicine


In vitro


National applications pending in the U.S., Canada, and Europe


Moritz F. Kircher, MD, PhD, Laboratory Head, Memorial Hospital Research Laboratories; Assistant Attending, Memorial Hospital, MSK


Jesse Baumgartner, CFA

Licensing Manager
Tel: 646-888-1081

MSK Internal Code: SK2014-060