Health In Focus


  • Research team develops “intelligent nanoparticles” which can be used in thermotherapy for targeting cancer cells.
  • Zn-Co-Cr ferrite nanoparticles are self-temperature regulators that maintain the ideal temperature of 42°C to 45°C.
  • The nanoparticles also have low toxicity and do not have the devastating side effects on healthy cells.

A new study from the University of Surrey reports the development of Zn-Co-Cr ferrite nanoparticles, which can self-regulate temperature and maintain the ideal temperature. The study has been published in Nanoscale.
Temperature Regulating Nanoparticles Selectively Kill Cancers Cells

Hyperthermic-thermotherapy is a developing method of treatment for cancer. It uses nanoparticles that deliver the drug to the precise location of the cancer and kill the cells by the application of heat. However, regulating the heat as to not affect cancer cells has been a limitation for the therapy.

Hyperthermic-thermotherapy for cancer

Hyperthermic-thermotherapy or Magnetic induction hyperthermia is a developing therapy for cancer with the incorporation of nanoparticles. It is aimed to deliver the cancer drugs to the exact location of the cancer in the required quantity. In this way, healthy cells are less affected; the dosage of the drug is also precise and hence lowering toxicity.

In this therapy, magnetic nanoparticles are delivered to the cancer region and heat is applied through the generation of a magnetic field. This heat kills the cancer cells, the treatment is hence called Chemotherapy. Since the non-cancerous cells have a higher tolerance to heat, these cells are not damaged. However, in order for this to work, the temperature must be maintained accurately between 42̊C-45̊C. But monitoring the temperature inside the body is easier said than done.

The "intelligent" nanoparticles

The new study from Surrey's Advanced Technology Institute and colleagues from the Dalian University of Technology in China have created nanoparticles which can heat up to the desired temperature of 45°C but can cool themselves down before they become hot enough to kill the healthy non-cancerous cells. This self-temperature regulating property of the Zn-Co-Cr ferrite nanoparticles makes them ideal for use in a thermotherapy session.

Professor Ravi Silva, Head of the Advanced Technology Institute at the University of Surrey, said: "This could potentially be a game changer in the way we treat people who have cancer. If we can keep cancer treatment set at a temperature level high enough to kill the cancer, while low enough to stop harming healthy tissue, it will prevent some of the serious side effects of vital treatment.

The Zn-Co-Cr ferrite nanoparticles also did not show toxicity towards non-cancerous cells when used in an in-vitro assay. However, we can only be certain of the efficacy of the nanoparticles when they are tested in humans.

Highlights of the Zn-Co-Cr ferrite nanoparticles

  • Capable of self-regulating temperature for thermotherapy.
  • Can heat up to the temperature of 45°C.
  • Do not harm or destroy healthy cells.
  • Low toxicity in in-vitro assays.
References :
  1. Zhang, W. et al. Novel nanoparticles with Cr3+ substituted ferrite for self-regulating temperature hyperthermia. Nanoscale 9, 13929-13937 (2017).
  2. New self-regulating nanoparticles could treat cancer - (

Source: Medindia

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