Chemically Engineered Iron Oxide Nanocrystals for Transport of Biomolecules Across Biological Barriers

Isabel Gessner, Shaista Ilyas, Eva Krakor, Laura Wortmann and Sanjay Mathur 

Inorganic and Materials Chemistry University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Chemical processing of functional ceramics has played a key role in converging disciplines, which is especially true for their bridge-building role in integrating the concepts of inorganic materials synthesis with biomedical applications. Out of a vast variety of metal and metal oxide nanoparticles that have been developed for medicinal purposes, iron oxides are one of a few materials that made it through clinical trials. Due to their high biocompatibility, stability and the abundance of iron in our environment, which results in low costs of iron-based materials, diverse iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have been prepared for biomedical applications. In our workgroup, ɣ-Fe2O3, α-Fe2O3 and Fe3O4 based IONPs have been synthesized using a broad range of well-established synthetic procedures. By changing the reaction conditions and applying suitable surface ligands, the morphology (spherical, cube-shaped, ellipsoidal), surface charge and dispersibility of IONPs could be tuned according to the desired application allowing for a reproducible fabrication of optimized and highly efficient vectors. Controlled surface vectorization with biomolecules led to the formation of cancer targeting platforms, while the employment of the highly selective click chemistry enabled the magnetic separation of proteins out of a proteome mixture. Moreover, as-prepared particles could be used for drug delivery applications, either through covalent attachment of a drug to the particle surface or by using the IONPs as templates to prepare hollow drug containers. This talk will present how chemically grown nanoparticles can be transformed into bio-vectors for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and drug delivery applications.