An in vitro study of magnetic particle targeting in small blood vessels

Laura Elena Udrea, Norval J. C. Strachan, Vasile Badescu, Ovidiu Rotariu

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46 Citations (Scopus)


The magnetic guidance and capture of particles inside the human body, via the circulatory system, is a novel method for the targeted delivery of drugs. This experimental study confirms in vitro that a dipolar capturing device, based on high-energy magnets with an active space of 8.7 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm, retains colloidal magnetic particles (MPs) (< 30 nm) injected in the capillary tubes, where flow velocities are comparable to that encountered in the capillary beds of tumours (< 0.5 cm s(-1)). The build-up of the deposition of the MPs was investigated using video imaging techniques that enabled continuous monitoring of the blocking of the vessel whilst simultaneously recording the colloid's flow rate. The parameters of practical importance (length of MP deposit, time of capillary blocking) were estimated and were found to be dependent on the initial fluid velocity, the MP concentration and the distance between the capillary tube and the polar magnetic pieces. Although the tube used in this experiment is larger (diameter = 0.75 mm, length = 100 mm) than that of real capillaries (diameter = 0.01 mm, length similar to 1.5 mm), the flowvelocities chosen were similar to those encountered in the capillary beds of tumours and the length/diameter ratio was approximately equal (133 for the present set-up, 100-150 for real capillaries). In these circumstances and using the same magnetic field conditions (intensity, gradient) and MPs, there is close similarity with magnetic capture in a microscopic capillary system. Moreover, the macroscopic system permits analysis of the distribution of MPs in the active magnetic space, and consequently the maximum targetable volume. This study revealed that the capture of particles within the active space was strongly influenced by the gradient of the magnetic field and the flow velocity. Thus, when the magnetic field gradient had medium values (0.1-0.3 T cm(-1)) and the fluid velocity was small (0.15 cm s(-1)), the particles were captured in small, compact and stable deposits ( L < 4 cm) and the time necessary for blocking of the capillary was < 150 s. Doubling the value for the flow velocity did not influence significantly either the length of MP deposits nor the blocking time. However, lower gradients (< 0.1 T cm(-1)) and larger velocities (0.3-0.9 cm s(-1)) result in the formation of larger deposits (4 cm < L < 10 cm) that are unstable at the beginning of the capture process. These large deposits do become stable given sufficient time for the deposition process to take place in conjunction with a decrease in the flow rate. As a consequence, the time necessary for blocking of the capillary increased up to 450 s. Decreasing the MP concentration from 0.02 g cm(-3) to 0.005 g cm(-3) decreased the deposit lengths by approximately 20% and doubled the values of the blocking time. The maximum targetable volume obtained by the present method is similar to 350 cm(3), which corresponds to medium-sized tumours. The capillary vessels were blocked only for the situation that occurs for microcirculation within a tumour. This reduces the concentration of MPs trapped within the normal tissues, which occurs when using particles of micrometre size. This work showed the potential of using colloidal MPs and dipolar magnetic devices for treatment of human patients, when the affected sites are positioned at medium distances from the surface of the body (e.g. head, neck, breast, hands and legs).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4869-4881
Number of pages13
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2006


  • magnetorheological fluids
  • cancer treatment
  • drug delivery
  • solid tumors
  • carriers
  • microspheres
  • embolization
  • liposomes


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