Symposium SB03: Thin-Film Devices, Barriers and Their Reliability
Symposium SB01: Fundamentals and Applications of Engineered Living Materials

Symposium SB05: Nano-Bio Interactions—From Design to Biological Response

Nguyen T.K. Thanh, University College London 

Plasmonic and Magnetic Nanoparticles for Biomedical Application 

Written by Richard Wu 

Nanoparticles, which are tiny particles between 1-100 nm in size, are attracting interest in biomedical research for their unusual properties. Nguyen Thanh from University College London has been investigating various clinical applications for nanoparticles. 

One use for nanoparticles is sterilizing hospital surfaces and items. Thanh’s research group has found that gold nanoparticles can be combined with a light-sensitive dye to kill E. coli bacteria in the presence of light. The researchers have also been able to use magnetic nanoparticles to separate pathogenic bacteria from liquids. 

Another application for nanoparticles that Thanh has been studying is cancer therapy. Since cancer cells tend to thrive in acidic environments, pH-sensitive nanoparticles can target cancer cells. These same nanoparticles can also selectively deliver anticancer drugs and treatments to kill tumor cells. 

Yet another clinical use for nanoparticles is medical imaging. Gadolinium, a contrast agent injected into patients to help visualize body structures on medical images, can cause side effects including kidney injury. Thanh’s research group has found that iron oxide nanoparticles could potentially serve as a lower-risk alternative to gadolinium in medical imaging tests. 

While nanoparticles may be small, Thanh’s research makes it clear that nanoparticle research has big implications for improving human health. 


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