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Safe Magnetic Nanoparticles for Detecting Breast Cancer Metastasis

MIRA researchers and their partners have received a €1.4 million grant for developing a new method to detect development of secondary tumors in breast cancer patients. The novel method uses a sophisticated highly-sensitive ‘metal detector’ and safe magnetic nanoparticles.

Researchers from the MIRA research institute, University of Twente would be developing a cryomagnetic detection system. To improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the system it would be fit with a small sensor antenna which would be cooled to 180° below zero.

Nanoparticles have been used for clinical applications such as MRI scans where they have demonstrated their safety and efficacy as a contrast material. They do not pose a risk for health personnel or patients. Nanoparticles can be utilized at any time or place as they possess an infinite storage life, while radioactive particles have a limited storage life.

Every year breast cancer is diagnosed in many women. The sentinel node procedure is used in majority of these women to detect the spread of cancer. Radioactive particles are put into the body to visualize the spread of cancer to the lymph nodes. This method has some disadvantages. Radioactive particles pose a health risk to health personnel and patients. They have limited storage life which prevents the procedure from being performed at any time or place. These reasons deter patients from undergoing this procedure.

Magnetic nanoparticles can be introduced into the human body and a magnetic detection system can be used to trace the spread of cancer cells. A deterrent to this method is that existing detectors lack the sensitivity to measure the variation between the signal of magnetic nanoparticles and background noise.


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