A group at the University of Tokyo have found a type of anerobic marine bacteria that produce magnetosomes, which are thought to help them navigate by following the earths magnetic field.
These magnetosomes are formed by filling fatty vesicles with iron. This iron is then oxidised to form magnetite a highly magnetic form of iron. These magnetite crystals are then alligned into a straight line.
The three groups of genes thought to be involved in this have been identified. It is hoped that these genes can be transferred to other organisms to produce customised magneitc particles.
The team in Tokyo are workign together with a team from Ludwig-Maximilian university in Munich to harness these magenetosomes for future medical imaging usages. With the intent for enhancing tumour imgaing.
A group from Edinburgh are in the process of trying to target these nanoparticles towards cancer cells and using a magnetic field. They will then use the opposing magnetic field to heat the nanomagnets to kill the cancer cells. – CT