Nano-magnets to guide drugs to their target

Nano-cricket balls of silver precisely engineered with defect using spinning disc processing.
Nano-cricket balls of silver precisely engineered with defect using spinning disc processing.

Microscopic magnets ferrying drugs through the bloodstream directly to diseased tissue are a new ‘green chemistry’ product which will improve health and the environment.

A team led by Prof. Colin Raston, of the University of Western Australia fabricated the nano ‘bullets’ which can be directed by an external magnetic field to specific parts of the body. The new technology will enable doctors to send the drugs directly to the disease site, leaving healthy tissue intact and minimising toxic side-effects.

“It will also minimise the amount of drugs getting into the sewage system when patients excrete them,” Colin says.

The magnets are one example of a range of nanoparticles developed using a new technique developed by Colin.

“Because of the difficulties in manufacturing at the nanoscale, nanotechnology has often failed to live up to early expectations,” says Colin. He’s developed a spinning-disc processing system based on a centrifuge and a lot of fluid dynamics know-how.

By changing the concentration of the feed chemicals and the rate of spin of the disc he can control the dimensions of the particles. The production process is scalable and works with cleaner reaction pathways, e.g. using water rather than organic solvents. And the continuous flow processing system uses less time, raw material and energy than does batch processing.

For more information: Centre for Strategic Nano-fabrication, The University of Western Australia, Colin Raston, Tel: +61 (8) 6488 3045, colin.raston@uwa.edu.au, www.strategicnano.uwa.edu.au

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