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Directing Therapeutics to Targets by Precise Control of Magnetic Fields


Main Participants

Ben Shapiro, O. Bruno, D. Diver, K. Dormer, M. Emmert-Buck, A. Lubbe, H. Potts, I. Rutel. Students: Skye Kim, Arash Komaee, John Lin, Alek Nacev, Roland Probst.


National Institutes of Health


Control, magnetic drug delivery, nano particles, tumors


In magnetic drug delivery, magnetic nano-particles can be influenced by externally applied magnetic fields to physically direct therapeutics to disease locations: to tumors, infections, blood clots, and other disease locations. Rapid advanced in magnetic carrier fabrication, functionalization (which allows magnetic targeting to be combined with chemical and biological targeting, e.g. with antibody binding or cell uptake mechanisms), and carrier bio-compatibility, as well as animal and even human clinical trials, are enabling magnetic drug delivery to be envisioned for a wide array of clinical applications.

Our interest is in design and control of magnetic fields to put the magnetic carriers where they need to go in-vivo. How should magnetic fields be varied in space and time to direct magnetic carriers to needed disease locations?

Shaping magnetic fields in time and space to direct magnetic carriers to targets is a control question, a very complex one that relies on an understanding of magnetic fields, particle transport, and, at least to some limited degree, in-vivo forces on magnetic carriers. Magnetic control has become a major effort for my group and currently includes the following projects.

The below slide shows a snap-shot of the many issues that must be considered and the people currently involved in addressing them.



At Maryland, appropriate lab space is available for carrying out the experiments. We have experience with Chemicell’s magnetic nano-particles that will be used here, have access to and familiarity with the 4 machine shops on campus to construct the multi-tubular vasculature phantom, as well as deep familiarity with PDMS for the more fine-scale network phantom, have prior experience with the heart-mimic pump we will use to drive flow in the phantoms, have experience with cameras and in-house software for real-time ferrofluid imaging, and have the resources to design, create, and dynamically control the electro-magnets. In terms of simulation and control design, all the computer simulation and optimization tools exist. The commercial codes Matlab, Mathematica, and Femlab/Comsol are available for modeling and control design. Plus we have already created in-house simulations of dynamic magnetic fields and blood-flow in human vasculatures (geometries were taken from magnetic resonance image reconstruction, courtesy Dr. Bullit at UNC).


For additional information please contact:
Dr. Benjamin Shapiro
Associate Professor
Fischell Department of Bioengineering and ISR
3178 Glenn L. Martin Hall
University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742

301/405-4191 TEL
301/314-9001 FAX
Project Website:


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