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Cancer, Magnets, and Heat: The Promise of Nanomedicine

Nanotechnology is a frontier in science, engineering, and manufacturing that provides tools to create and control materials at the molecular level, thus offering new potential for medical imaging and therapy. Magnetic nanoparticles can create heat when they are exposed to alternating magnetic fields. Because of their size, these nanoparticles can be used to target cancer cells directly for therapeutic heating or drug delivery. They can also be used as a diagnostic marker for cells or tumors because their magnetic properties make them a natural contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging. Thus magnetic nanoparticles as a diagnostic tool and delivery agent of therapeutic heat for cancer offer potential for profound advancement in cancer therapy. Despite the promise, magnetic nanoparticles and alternating magnetic fields present a new set of challenges that must be addressed before this exciting platform can be advanced to treat patients. The promise and challenges inherent with this technology will be presented.

For further information please contact Samuel Stavis, 301-975-2844, samuel.stavis [at]


samuel.stavis [at] (Samuel Stavis), 301-975-2844, samuel.stavis [at] (samuel[dot]stavis[at]nist[dot]gov)

Dr. Robert Ivkov

The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Created October 13, 2015, Updated October 2, 2018