Magnetofection(1) is the process of introducing nucleic acids into cells (called transfection), using magnetic nanocrystals in the presence of a magnetic field. Magnetofection combines the advantages of superparamagnetic nanocrystals with the biochemical and physical properties of nucleic acids for highly efficient introduction of important nucleic acids to target cells.
Ocean NanoTech has developed superparamagnetic nanocrystals made of iron oxide that are 5 nm to 50 nm in diameter that are ideal for magnetofection. The surfaces of the superparamagnetic nanocrystals are modified with biocompatible polymers with specific proprietary anionic and cationic molecules that vary upon the applications. The cationic superparamagnetic nanocrystals are recommended for magnetofection studies. Their association with gene vectors (DNA, RNA, virus, plasmids, etc.) is achieved by salt-induced colloidal aggregation as well as electrostatic interaction. The superparamagnetic nanocrystals carrying the gene vectors are used to transfect the target cells through the influence of an external magnetic field. The cellular uptake of the genetic material is accomplished by two natural biological processes, endocytosis and pinocytosis, induced by the applied magnetic field. Use of the 5 or 10 nm superparamagnetic nanocrystals from Ocean NanoTech allows the membrane architecture & structure to remain intact unlike other bigger nanoparticles and physical transfection methods that damage the cell membrane.
Preliminary studies on the efficient application of Ocean NanoTech’s 10 nm iron oxide nanoparticles are on-going. Small DNA sequences and plasmid are being introduced to the iron oxide nanoparticles which will subsequently be used to transfect specific cells.