Joint research project

Advanced ferrofluid for theranostic application [Ferro-Thera]

Project leaders
Davide Peddis, Ladislau Vekas
ROMANIA - RA - The Romanian Academy
CNR-RA 2017-2019
Physical sciences and technologies of matter
Thematic area
Physical sciences and technologies of matter
Status of the project

Research proposal

The Italian Partner (Institute of the structure of Matter of National Research Council - ISM-CNR) has a long-standing experience in development of magnetic nanoheretostructure and investigation of their magnetic properties . The Romanian partner (Center for Fundamental and Advanced Technical Research CFATR, Romanian Academy - Timisoara Branch) is worldwide recognized for the development of a wide range of ferrofluids for technical and biomedical applications: single and multicore magnetic nanoparticles, stabilized with various surfactants and dispersed in various polar and nonpolar carriers. In this contest, Ferro-Thera project will exploit the complementary expertise of the proponents to develop advanced Ferro fluids based on novel multi-functional magnetic nanoheterostructures with tunable magnetic properties for therapeutic (magnetic hyperthermia) and diagnostic (MRI) applications.
Superpamagnetic nanoparticles (SPNPs) coated by polymers received continuously increasing interest during the last years due to widespread applications in nanomedicine and biology, including magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic particle imaging, magnetic drug delivery systems, magnetic fluid hyperthermia and magnetic labeling and separation of cells[1]. An appropriate design of magnetic core and surface coating by multiple functionalization in order to prepare stable and biocompatible suspension of magnetic nanoparticles, are among the main requirements to optimize the ferrofluid performace in biomedical applications. In this context this project will focus on both optimize the properties of magnetic core and design appropriate coating to have stable biocompatible suspension with high fraction of magnetic materials in appropriate carrier.
Superparamgnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with spinel structure - magnetite and maghemite- are the most used constituents of magnetoresponsive nanosystems in the rapidly expanding researches and applications as they represent the best compromise between good magnetic properties and very reduced toxicity. In addition the rich crystal chemistry of spinels (MeIIFe2O4; MeII = Fe2+, Ni2+, Co2+, Zn2+) offers excellent opportunities for fine tuning of the magnetic properties[2], opening new perspective to apply these materials in biomedical field . The spinel structure contains two interstitial sites, occupied by metal cations, with tetrahedral, A-site, and octahedral, B-site, symmetry. In general, the cationic distribution in B and A sites may be quantified by the inversion degree (³), which can be defined as the fraction of divalent ions in B sites . The saturation magnetization (Ms) depends on the cationic distribution[3-5]. Then the possibility to tune g represent a powerful tool to tune Ms and then to improve the performance of SPNP in their application in MRI and drug delivery. One strategy that will be explored in the frame of Ferro-Thera project will be to dope MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 with Zn2+, inducing strong change in g and then an increase of Ms.
Magnetic heating is based on the thermal energy generation via magnetic nanoparticle (MNP) mediators activated by alternating magnetic (AC) field. The gauge of MNP's heat transfer efficacy is given by specific absorption rate (SAR), also referred to as specific loss power (SLP). Besides conventional approaches for the enhancement of heating efficiency recently tailoring the MNP's anisotropy has been investigated as alternative route to increase the magnetic heating power[6]. In Particular, the interface exchange coupling (IEC) across a ferro (ferri)magnetic[(F/FI)]/antiferromagnetic (AF) interface can gives rise to an additional exchange anisotropy, allowing to increase the SAR/SLP values[6]. In the frame of Ferro-Thera project FI1/FI2 core shell nanoparticles will be developed, where FI1/2 will be spinel oxides with different anisotropy (e.g. CoFe2O4/MnFe2O4)
All MNP types will be sterically stabilized by coating with long chain fatty acids (oleic, miristic, lauric acids) in one or two layers for dispersion in nonpolar and polar (water mainly) carriers respectively, with special focus on obtaining highly stable colloidal dispersions. Colloidal stability is a basic prerequisite for the aplicability range of ferrofluids, especially in areas where specific surface conservation is needed.
For the implementation of the project, a working plan consisting of 3 scientific work-packages (WPs), 1 management WP and 1 dissemination WP is proposed. The months (M) dedicated to a specific activity and the deliverables (D) are also reported. Scientific workpackage (WP1, WP2 and WP3) will be described in detail in work plan section. In this section dissemination activity (WP4), that will represent a key point of the project, will be shortly described
WP4 - Dissemination and Outrich activities (CNR, CFTAR) (M3-M36)
The dissemination will be performed through publications in high impact journals and participation to International Conferences and other scientific events targeting to a large public (e.g. Cagliari Festival della Scienza, Bucharest Science Festival). In addition, a joint workshop/year will be organized. Scientists from both CNR and CFTAR will offer a short course for PhD students related to their expertise (i.e. nanomagnetism, advanced magnetic nanomaterials for biomedical applications) in Romanian and Italy, respectively. Finally, a virtual training center (VTC), will be set up to share results inside the Consortium and disseminate results to PMI, researchers, students and large public.

[1] T.T. Thuy et al., Magn. Nanoparticles From Fabr. to Clin. Appl., (2012), pp. 99-126.
[2] A.R. West, Solid State Chemistry and its applications, (1984).
[3] D. Peddis, et al J. Phys. Condens. Matter. 23, 426004 (2011).
[4] C. Cannas, et al. J. Chem. Phys. 125, 164714 (2006).
[5] D. Peddis, et al J. Phys. Chem. B. 112, 8507 (2008).
[6] J.-H. Lee, et al. Nat. Nanotechnol. 6, 418 (2011).

Research goals

specific objectives of Ferro-Thera project are:
1) To control cationic distribution in spinel ferrites:
In particular will be explored the possibility to dope MnFe2O4 and Fe3O4 with Zn (i.e.: ZnxMn1-xFe2O4; ZnxFe1-xFe2O4) in order to modify the inversion degree, increasing Ms
2)To prepare bimagnetic core shell nanoparticles
Development of bi-magnetic core shell FI1/FI2 systems made of FI materials with different anisotropy to enhance the hyperthermic efficiency of the systems.
3) To prepare stable water based ferrofluids with various types of systems., as well as highly volatile hidrocarbon based ferrofluids with single core SPNMs as precursors for the synthesis of multicore systems.
As a specific objective of the project, a virtual training center (VTC), consisting of a web site and an e-learning platform based on MOODLE (MOE) system, will be set up to drastically increase the impact of the project at different level. Both the VTC and the MOE platform will maximize the exchange of results within the Consortium and MOE will be used to extend the training to PhD students not travelling between Italy and Romania. In addition, by using specific didactic pathway, MOE will be also used to do specific training and to spread results within scientific, industrial and social tissue in Italy and Rumania.

Last update: 07/10/2022