Quick Hits: Magnetic Nanorobots Target Cancer Cells

Drug-coated iron nanowires guided by external magnetic fields could revolutionize cancer therapy.

Drug-Coated Nanowires
Drug-Coated Nanowires

A recent KAUST Discovery article discussed a new method for targeted cancer treatment that aims to minimize side effects. The “triple-punch combination attack” involves drug-coated nanowires that are guided through the body with exterior magnets. Once they reach the site of cancer, the drugs are released to punch holes in the cell’s membrane and expel a blast of heat. 

The nanowires consist of an iron core coated with an iron oxide shell. So not only are they magnetic, they are also made of a material that is native to the body and essential for oxygen transport. They can also be detected and traced with magnetic resonance imaging. The nanowires are coated with the anticancer drug doxorubicin, which is attached via pH-sensitive linkers that break down in the acidic environment of the tumor to release the drugs.

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