Skip to main content

Targeting cancer cells: magnetic nanoparticles as drug carriers


Magnetic drug targeting employing nanoparticles as carriers is a promising cancer treatment avoiding side effects of conventional chemotherapy. We used iron oxide nanoparticles covered by starch derivatives with phosphate groups which bound mitoxantrone as chemotherapeutikum. In this letter we show that a strong magnetic field gradient at the tumour location accumulates the nanoparticles. Electron microscope investigations show that the ferrofluids can be enriched in tumour tissue and tumour cells.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5


  • Alexiou C, Arnold W, Klein RJ, Parak FG, Hulin P, Bergemann C, Erhardt W, Wagenpfeil S, Lübbe AS (2000) Locoregional cancer treatment with magnetic drug targeting Cancer Res 60:6641–6648

    Google Scholar 

  • Alexiou C, Jurgons R, Schmid RJ, Bergemann C, Henke J, Erhardt W, Huenges E, Parak FG (2003) Magnetic drug targeting—biodistribution of the magnetic carrier and the chemotherapeutic agent mitoxantrone after locoregional cancer treatment J Drug Target 11:139–149

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bergemann C (1998) Magnetische Flüssigkeiten für den Transport von diagnostisch und therapeutisch wirksamen Substanzen Deutsches Patentamt, Offenlegungsschrift DE 19624426 A1

  • Langer R, (2001) Drug delivery: drugs on target Science 293:58–59

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lübbe AS, Bergemann C, Huhnt W, Fricke T, Riess H, Brock JW, Huhn D (1996a) Preclinical experiences with magnetic drug targeting: tolerance and efficacy Cancer Res 56:4694–4701

    Google Scholar 

  • Lübbe AS, Bergemann C, Riess H, Schriever F, Reichardt P, Possinger K, Matthias M, Dorken B, Herrmann F, Gurtler R, Hohenberger P, Haas N, Sohr R, Sander B, Lemke A-J, Ohlendorf D, Huhnt W, Huhn D (1996b) Clinical experiences with magnetic drug targeting: a phase I study with 4’-epidoxorubicin in 14 patients with advanced solid tumors Cancer Res. 56:4686–4693

    Google Scholar 

  • Weissleder R, Stark DD, Engelstad BL, Bacon BR, Compton CC, White DL, Jacobs P, Lewis J (1989) Superparamagnetic iron oxide: pharmacokinetics and toxicity Am J Roentgenol 152:167–173

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Fritz G. Parak.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Alexiou, C., Schmid, R.J., Jurgons, R. et al. Targeting cancer cells: magnetic nanoparticles as drug carriers. Eur Biophys J 35, 446–450 (2006).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Cell biophysics
  • Biological tissue
  • Microscopy