Interview by Will Soutter
In this Insights from Industry interview, Carl Jones, CEO of nanoTherics, talks to Will Soutter about the company and their magneTherm nanoparticle heating system.
WS: nanoTherics' primary product is the magneTherm - can you give us a brief introduction to the magneTherm?
CJ: The magneTherm system is a totally unique, very competitively priced device which enables users to study magnetic fluid and nanoparticle heating properties at a wide range of frequencies (from 50 kHz to 1 MHz) and magnetic field strengths (up to 25mT).
The system is bench top and can be used with an ordinary tap as the water cooling system, reducing the space requirements. The system has been designed over several years specifically for nanoparticle heating applications, and produces very accurate measurements and calculation of SAR or SLP or ILP according to customer requirements.
WS: What industries are magnetic nanoparticle heating relevant to?
CJ: The majority of research is being performed around the field of magnetic fluid hyperthermia for cancer treatment. In this technique, magnetic particles are being used to specifically address a target, and then thermally release a payload as well as generate a heating effect.
There are also researchers using the system to study Biofilms, Heat Shock Proteins and Memory-Shape Polymers, as well as chemical synthesis. Discipline wise we may be talking to material scientists, chemists, physicists, cell biologists, bioengineers or immunologists but they will all have an interest in magnetic nanoparticles.
WS: How did the development process for the magneTherm come about?
CJ: nanoTherics have been involved with magnetic nanoparticles and their applications for many years. We became aware of the requirement for a system to accurately and reproducibly measure SAR (specific absorption rate) of nanoparticles for magnetic fluid hyperthermia.
Researchers were originally resorting to the use of induction heaters, which were very large and required vast cooling systems. The way induction heaters are designed means that they tend to generate large amounts of non-specific heating effects, and do not cover a particularly wide range of frequencies, particularly at the medically relevant range.
nanoTherics saw the need for a bench top system offering a very wide range of frequencies (50 kHz to 1 MHz) and relevant field strengths (up to 25 mT) that was available off the shelf and performed in a robust and reliable manner – hence the magneTherm.
WS: Can you tell us a bit about nanoTherics itself, and how the company came to be founded?
CJ: nanoTherics technologies result from over 30 combined years of leading edge research into the use of magnetic nanoparticles for biomedical applications, conducted at Keele University and the University of Florida. These technologies are designed to offer faster, more efficient, scalable tools to improve research with potential of taking these from research laboratories to the clinic.
The Magnefect technology uses nanoparticles and oscillating magnetic fields to accurately and rapidly transfect biomaterials, including deoxyribonucleic acids (DNAs) and ribonucleic acids (RNAs), into cells. It applies a novel technique which is proprietary to nanoTherics.
We have also developed the magneTherm technology, again nanoparticle/magnetic particle based, to enable research into the heating properties of nanoparticles in the fields of fluid hyperthermia, biofilms and heat shock proteins.
Applications for magnetic nanoparticles include chemical synthesis, separation/extraction, waste water treatment, and bio imaging.
WS: What was originally so attractive about the field of magnetic nanoparticles, from a commercial point of view?
CJ: Commercially there are many applications involving magnetic nanoparticles, including separation/extraction, waste water treatment, chemistry, and bio imaging - to name just a few.
The transfection market alone is valued at around $1 billion per annum globally and there is a need for technology to improve both the efficiency and viability of the process. Magnetic nanoparticles are able to offer a very simple, effective, cell-friendly solution to this need.
The magnetic fluid hyperthermia application is a growing field, and is another extension of our core capabilities involving magnetics and nanoparticles. This field gives us a wide variety of opportunities to take advantage of our core expertise.
WS: Are there any other areas where magnetic nanoparticles and nanoparticle heating might be of interest, and that nanoTherics would consider expanding into in the future?
CJ: Yes, there are other applications that we are currently considering. Biofilms and heat shock proteins, which I mentioned briefly earlier, are areas we are developing at the moment.
There are also applications outside of the traditional biomedical field – for example, shape memory polymers are of potential use in the area of magnetic actuation, and in medical devices. Catalysis and chemical synthesis is another possibility. There are many areas we could move into as we grow, but we are always conscious of the requirement to focus our efforts.
WS: What are nanoTherics' strategies for growth in the near future?
CJ: We are currently looking to rapidly expand our distribution network and increase our market reach. We will be getting closer to our existing customers to fine tune our product offering, and to ensure we are delivering the right mix of product specification, features and pricing.
We have been developing the magneTherm for several years now, and there is a requirement for our technology in in vivo applications for particles under development and ready to move to the next stage of testing. We will be looking to take advantage of this opportunity.
About Carl Jones
Carl has over 27 years of success in the life sciences commercial field. He has direct experience of developing sales and distribution channels across a range of disciplines within the global life sciences sector coupled with significant experience of implementing market penetration strategies for new products and technologies.
His prior position was with Thalesnano where he was responsible as Global Head of Sales for developing business with a disruptively innovative instrumentation and consumables range. He has held a variety of senior level roles within companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific with a global remit.