Magnetic Actuation of Nanoparticles for Noninvasive Remotely-Controlled Release of Drug

Tech ID: 22125 / UC Case 2010-976-0


Researchers at UCLA have developed a novel system that combines mesoporous silica nanoparticles with magnetic nanocrystals as a thermally sensitive means of delivering drugs to targeted cells. The synergistic effect of these materials in providing both heat and drug make this method especially significant as a non-invasive, externally controlled drug delivery system with cancer killing potential.


Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) are non-toxic, endocytoseable nanomaterials that may be used to carry and mediate release of cargoes such as drugs to targeted tissues and cells. A vast array of methods from pH to light have been used to control the nanovalves on the particles that trap and release cargos within the pores. Magnetic nanocrystals (NCs) have previously been used in biomedical applications both for their usefulness in inducing hyperthermic effects when placed in a magnetic field and for their MRI imaging capabilities. Zinc-doped iron oxide NCs are particularly well-suited for these purposes. The combination of these two technologies yields a novel approach to drug delivery whereby zinc NCs are used to actuate MSN cargo distribution.


When placed in an AC magnetic field, zinc NCs encapsulated within an MSN core can generate a large amount of local internal heating, causing molecular machines (nanovalves) on the MSN surface to disassemble and permit cargo release. Therefore, at biological temperatures, cargo (drug) can be contained until it is selectively dispensed to target cells or tissues. In testing this, researchers discovered that the cumulative effect of drug and hyperthermia from zinc NCs had a more potent impact on apoptosis of an in vitro cancer cell line than either treatment in isolation. Thus, while this technology has broad applications as a well-controlled, remote method for administration of therapeutic agents it also has been verified for its potential as an effective cancer treatment as well.


While this technology is currently beneficial in a laboratory environment for delivering drugs or dyes to non-biological systems or in vitro cell lines, its in vivo applications especially for treatment of cancer also bears enormous feasibility.


  • To date no other components condensed within MSNs have been used for remote heating and delivery of materials. The selectivity and non-invasiveness of this technique marks an improvement over current drug delivery systems particularly for in vivo applications.
  • In terms of cancer cell treatments, this model combines two known chemotherapies to produce one that is more potent.

State Of Development

Thus far these methods have been tested successfully in vitro and testing in biological settings is currently underway.

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,220,004 03/05/2019 2010-976


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  • Zink, Jeffrey I.

Other Information


Nanoparticle, Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles, Drug Delivery, Drug Release

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