BUFFALO, N.Y. — Clusters of heated, magnetic nanoparticles targeted to cell membranes can remotely control ion channels, neurons and even animal behavior, according to a paper published by University at Buffalo physicists in Nature Nanotechnology.
The research could have broad application, potentially resulting in innovative cancer treatments that remotely manipulate selected proteins or cells in specific tissues, or improved diabetes therapies that remotely stimulate pancreatic cells to release insulin.
The work also could be applied to the development of new therapies for some neurological disorders, which result from insufficient neuro-stimulation.
“By developing a method that allows us to use magnetic fields to stimulate cells both in vitro and in vivo, this research will help us unravel the signaling networks that control animal behavior,” says Arnd Pralle, PhD, assistant professor of physics in the UB College of Arts and Sciences and senior/corresponding author on the paper.
The UB researchers demonstrated that their method could open calcium ion channels, activate neurons in cell culture and even manipulate the movements of the tiny nematode, C. elegans.