Nanotechnology-based platforms are gaining significant importance in research and product development due to the enormous benefits they offer in terms of drug stability, bioavailability, dosage, and shelf-life.  Various types of nano-carriers or nanoparticles such as liposomes, magnetic particle, dendrimers, silver nanoparticle, silica nanoparticle, and polymeric micelles, carbon nanoparticles and drug-conjugate nanoparticles are used in different industries to cater specific needs.

A major issue with chemotherapy is that the available drugs are non-targeted. Free flowing drug particles can damage both healthy and cancerous cells. For improved effectiveness, anti-cancer drugs need to penetrate the tumor cells to reach the cytoplasm. With currently available techniques, this can be achieved by means of a direct injection into the tumor or administering a large dose of the drug which can lead to side effects, be painful and expensive. Therefore, researchers started exploring the magnetic particles to drive the drugs at the target location.

Super-paramagnetic Crystals

Use of magnetic nano-particles in healthcare applications began with diagnostics. Magnetic driven drug delivery technology uses an external magnetic field to drive the nano-crystals in the body to the target tumor site. Many studies on this technology have progressed towards achieving the goal of administering the drug to the target site. One of the researches also reflected use of magnetic nano-composite membranes in remotely operated drug delivery device that can aid controlling the drug release.  Recently, Chinese researchers from Quingdou University of Science and Technology developed super-paramagnetic crystals that can be guided through the human body for drug delivery at target site. Super-paramagnetic crystals have been known for years, but the small size was a restringing factor in implementing this technology widely. Small crystals are hard to control and would clump together when a magnetic field is removed. Hence, the researchers developed crystals of a bit larger size which are more responsive to an external magnetic field.

Magnetic Microbubbles

Scientists in Singapore have developed a novel way to deliver cancer drugs in tumor cells using tiny drug-coated bubbles. The micro-sized bubbles are coated with the drug particles and iron oxide nanoparticles. Using magnet, the bubbles get accumulated around the targeted tumor cell. Then, using an ultrasound device, the bubbles are vibrated, directing the drug particles towards the target cell. Clinicians would be able to localize the anticancer drugs around a tumor and introduce the drug deep into the tumor issues. The study is estimated to enter the clinical trials in next eight to ten years.


Safe and effective drug delivery is a major challenge against the pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Nanoparticle drug delivery technology shows promising results for overcoming the issue of multi-drug resistance in antibiotic and cancer therapies. Moreover, advancement in research has enabled controlled and sustained release of drugs to decrease the dosage and provide long term effect of the drug. There is all-together a new wave of innovation in life science sector that delivers medicines at the targeted site in right dose.

A number of studies are being carried out globally on magnetic driven drug delivery technology. However, strong results for FDA approval and high investments are required to commercialize this technology in the near future.

Key Developments

Research and development activities by major institutes to develop novel magnetic driven drug delivery technologies is expected to offer lucrative opportunities for market players. For instance, in August 2019, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology developed a nanomaterials-based technique known as remotely controlled chemomagnetic modulation that permits the pharmacological interrogation of targeted neural populations in freely moving subjects. The approach allows drugs to be released at precise times and in specific areas.

Similarly, in May 2019, researchers from Purdue University reported development of a minimally-invasive automatic antidote delivery device that automatically delivers drug to reverse opioid. The wearable device contains a magnetic field generator that is activated when the sensor detects a low respiration rate. The magnetic field generator heats up a drug capsule in the body to release naloxone in 10 seconds.

Moreover, in September 2018, researchers from Sun Yat?Sen University, China, developed a novel strategy for multimodal visualization of eccentric magnetic microcapsules (EMMs) for potential treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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