Editorial Feature

York Researchers Crowdfund Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System

Magnetic nanoparticle fluid, imaged with an optical microscope

Magnetic nanoparticle fluid, imaged with an optical microscope

Nanotechnology researchers from the University of York are working on a project called the Nanject - a patch which will be applied to the skin to deliver targeted medication without the use of needles. They will be using the patch to deliver targeted cancer drugs, that kill off cancer cells without harming the healthy cells in the rest of the body.

The researchers, Atif Syed and Zakareya Hussein, are seeking funding for their project on crowdfunding platform Microryza. They say the money raised will pay for the chemicals and materials they need to start developing prototypes. Much of the background research on the drug delivery mechanism, and using nanoparticles to target cancer cells, has already been completed.

Non-Invasive Nanofilament Drug Delivery

The Nanject patch works by replacing a single syringe with many tiny syringes made of polymer nanofilaments - so small you don't even feel them. They inject the medication through the hair follicles in the skin, where they can get into the bloodstream and travel around the body to wherever they are most needed. Zakareya Hussein commented:

The hair follicles provide access the fatty subcutaneous layer beneath the skin, which is where many vaccines are normally injected. The subcutaneous layer is essentially a fatty region underneath the skin. Normal injections tend to damage the capillaries, causing internal bleeding - Nanject prevents that, as medicines are absorbed directly into intact capillaries.

This approach completely removes many of the issues with distributing medication, particularly in remote places. Currently, a trained person is required to inject any kind of medication, and taking drugs orally requires much larger doses due to decomposition by stomach acids, and may not work at all.

Using a simple skin patch like the Nanject will allow drugs to be self-administered, making it much easier to get medication to people in need in remote locations or developing countries with little access to professional healthcare. It would also remove the risks of infection associated with reusing improperly sterilized needles.

Capillaries are very selective about what they actually let into the blood stream, to defend your body from invaders - this natural defense will shield patients from many of the risks associated with traditional injections, such as bacterial infections and other complications, even if the Nanject is accidently left unsterilized!

The remaining nanoprojections which don't hit the hair follicle on target are so small that they cannot even pierce the skin, making them completely harmless.

The York duo aren't the first to think of this approach - Mark Kendall of Queensland University, Australia, announed a similar concept called Nanopatch at TEDGlobal 2013. Syed and Hussein insist that they have been working on their idea for just as long as Kendall, however, and have developed a completely different approach to developing their nanoscale syringes.

Targeted Nanoparticles for Cancer Treatment

It appears that Syed and and Hussein won't be content with simply creating a revolutionary drug delivery patch. Whilst the patch could eventually be used to deliver any number of different drugs, they are kicking things off by developing a targeted cancer drug to be used with the Nanject.

Targeted chemotherapy has been a popular subject of nanotechnology research for some time. Multiple mechanisms have been developed to achieve this, but Syed and Hussein have opted for one based on superparamagnetic nanoparticles.

The magnetic nanoparticles are coated with antigens, so that as they travel around the bloodstream, they will attach themselves to cancerous cells whenever they encounter them. The patient is then treated in an MRI machine - the oscillations of the high-strength magnetic field cause the nanoparticles to heat up, destroying the cancer cells around them.

Once the magnetic field is switched off, the particles cool back down and are gradually and harmlessly removed from the body.

Left: SEM image of magnetic nanoparticles (light) under a coating (dark). Right: The same magnetic nanoparticles which have been organized into a pattern using a magnetic field.

Left: SEM image of magnetic nanoparticles (light) under a coating (dark). Right: The same magnetic nanoparticles which have been organized into a pattern using a magnetic field.

"Open Nanotechnology"

One of the most interesting and ambitious aspects of this project is the aim to make it the first example of "open nanotechnology" - once developed, the Nanject patch technology will be made available for other research teams and companies to adapt to other types of medication.

It is clear that this device could be used to safely administer many different types of treatment, and making the platform freely available to others, as opposed to forcing other teams to reinvent the wheel, could vastly increase the rate at which the Nanject is adopted for a wide range of applications.


Will Soutter

Written by

Will Soutter

Will has a B.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Durham, and a M.Sc. in Green Chemistry from the University of York. Naturally, Will is our resident Chemistry expert but, a love of science and the internet makes Will the all-rounder of the team. In his spare time Will likes to play the drums, cook and brew cider.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Soutter, Will. (2020, August 18). York Researchers Crowdfund Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System. AZoNano. Retrieved on February 26, 2024 from https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3555.

  • MLA

    Soutter, Will. "York Researchers Crowdfund Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System". AZoNano. 26 February 2024. <https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3555>.

  • Chicago

    Soutter, Will. "York Researchers Crowdfund Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System". AZoNano. https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3555. (accessed February 26, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Soutter, Will. 2020. York Researchers Crowdfund Magnetic Nanoparticle Drug Delivery System. AZoNano, viewed 26 February 2024, https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3555.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Azthena logo

AZoM.com powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Azthena logo with the word Azthena

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from AZoNetwork.com.

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.