One promising idea for cancer treatment is using magnetic nanoparticles to carry the drug to the tumor area. When cancer drugs enter the blood stream, they get pumped through the body’s system of arteries and veins. The drugs reach the tumor but also every other part of the body. Cancer drugs are designed to kill cancer cells but since they can go anywhere in the bloodstream, they may also kill healthy cells. Attaching drugs to magnetic particles would allow doctors to keep the medicine in a specific place by using magnets to hold them there. Using nano-sized particles is key because they are small enough to go through the blood stream.
The grey magnetic nanoparticle is surrounded by surfactants (red) that have drug molecules on them (green stars).
Doctors can use magnets to concentrate the nanoparticles, and therefore the drugs in in the area of the disease.
Ferrofluids are magnetic nanoparticles that are suspended in a fluid. When magnets are brought near ferrofluids, the liquid forms spikes along the magnetic field lines. Besides their medical potential, ferrofluids are already used in some rotating shaft seals and as dampers for high-end loudspeakers.