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Simone Schürle uses magnetic bacteria to fight cancerous tumors

01.11.2022 11:49

The team of Branco Weiss Alumna Simone Schürle, Professor of Responsive Biomedical Systems at ETH Zurich, has found a way to fight cancer tumors in the future using magnetic bacteria. This involves using modified bacteria as “ferries” to carry cancer drugs through the bloodstream to the tumors. The team’s research article, published recently in ScienceRobotics, explains the ways in which the microorganisms can cross the walls of blood vessels and subsequently colonize a tumor. Simone Schürle chose bacteria of the genus Magnetospirillum because they contain iron oxide particles which make the bacteria naturally magnetic. Hence, the bacteria can be controlled by magnets from outside the body. She and her team were able to show in cell cultures and in mice that a rotating magnetic field causes the bacteria to move in a circular motion, making it easier for them to cross the vessel wall. “Once the bacteria have passed through the blood vessel wall and are in the tumor, they can independently migrate deep into its interior,” Simone says. After the magnetic field is positioned over the tumor, it does not need to be readjusted. The bacteria also do not need to be monitored by imaging techniques. In their cell culture studies, the researchers simulated the transport of a “cargo” by attaching liposomes to the bacteria. They labeled these liposomes with a fluorescent dye, allowing them to demonstrate in the Petri dish that the bacteria had indeed delivered their cargo to the cancerous tissue. In future medical applications, the liposomes could be filled with a drug.

Read theresearch article in ScienceRobotics

Read the summary in NewsMedical