Biomedical Applications of Magnetic Nanoparticles: Remote Control of Cells

Jon Dobson, Ph.D.

J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering & Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida

The use of magnetic micro‐ and nanoparticles for biomedical applications was first proposed in the 1920s as a way to measure the rheological properties of the cytoplasm. Since that time, particle synthesis techniques and functionality have advanced significantly. Magnetic micro- and nanoparticles are now used in a variety of biomedical applications such as targeted drug delivery, MRI contrast enhancement, gene transfection, immunoassay and cell sorting. More recently, magnetic micro‐ and nanoparticles have been used to investigate and manipulate cellular processes both in vitro and in vivo.

This talk will focus on our work developing Magnetically Activated Receptor Signaling (MARS). MARS is a magnetic nanoparticle‐based technique for activating cell surface receptors and controlling the activity of biomolecules such as growth factors. Using this technology, we have demonstrated targeting and remote magnetic activation of specific receptors to control ion channel activity, activate bone and cartilage matrix formation, and direct the differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells both in vitro and in vivo. Potential applications of MARS and nanomagnetic gene trasfection in regenerative medicine, drug screening and cancer nanotechnology will be discussed.

Dr. Dobson’s research focuses on biomedical applications of magnetic micro- and nanoparticles. His group has developed novel technologies for 1) magnetic targeting and remote activation of cell signaling pathways for cell engineering and stem cell therapy; 2) magnetic nanoparticle-based gene transfection delivery; and 3) magnetic targeting of modified cell carriers for cancer therapy and regenerative medicine. In addition, he has also led a multi-national research program developing novel imaging and characterization techniques to quantify, characterize and map iron compounds related to neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s