Developing multifunctional iron oxide nanoparticles for novel cancer therapeutic strategies
Quinto, Christopher Anthony
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Magnetic nanoparticles hold tremendous potential to change the way we study the body and have the potential to revolutionize how we diagnose and treat disease. By reducing iron oxide to the nanoscale, the superparamagnetic property is unlocked which drastically changes how the particles interact with each other and respond to external magnetic fields. The distinct functional properties of iron oxide nanoparticles provide unique benefits for multimodal strategies in cancer therapy. Exposure to an external magnetic field causes the particles to generate local heat for hyperthermia treatment or magnetic resonance contrast. Furthermore, chemotherapeutic drugs can be loaded onto the particles for protection from the environment during circulation and to cause the drugs to preferentially accumulate within the tumor to reduce systemic side effects. In this work, a phospholipid-PEG coated iron oxide nanoparticle platform was developed that is capable of delivering a poorly soluble chemotherapeutic drug without affecting drug activity. Hyperthermia, when used in conjunction with drug delivery, was able to enhance cancer cell death, and the T2 relaxivity enabled visualization of the nanoparticle distribution within tumors using MRI. Influences of the phospholipid-PEG coating layer and iron oxide core on each of these functions were studied by varying the PEG weight and core size. A PEG molecular weight of 2000 Da and a 40 nm core size enabled the highest recorded drug loading capacity, heat generation, and MR signal contrast for iron oxide nanoparticles. These studies lay the foundation for the development of next generation multifunctional magnetic nanoparticles as a novel tool for improving the future of cancer treatment.