Owing to their abilities to identify diseased conditions, to modulate biological processes, and to control cellular activities, magnetic nanoparticles have become one of the most popular nanomaterials in the biomedical field. Targeted drug delivery, controlled drug release, hyperthermia treatment, imaging, and stimulation of several biological entities are just some of the several tasks that can be accomplished by taking advantage of magnetic nanoparticles in tandem with magnetic fields. The huge interest towards this class of nanomaterials arises from the possibility to physically drive their spatiotemporal localization inside the body, and to deliver an externally applied stimulation at a target site. They in fact behave as actual nanotransducers, converting energy stemming from the external magnetic field into heat and mechanical forces, which act as signals for therapeutic processes such as hyperthermia and controlled drug release. Magnetic nanoparticles are a noninvasive tool that enables the remote activation of biological processes, besides behaving as formidable tracers for different imaging modalities, thus allowing to simultaneously carry out diagnosis and therapy. In view of all this, owing to their multifunctional and multitasking nature, magnetic nanoparticles are already one of the most important nanotechnological protagonists in medicine and biology, enabling an actual theranostic approach in many pathological conditions. In this Concept, we first provide a brief introduction on some physical properties of magnetic materials and on important features that determine the physical properties of magnetic nanoparticles. Thereafter, we will consider some major biomedical applications: hyperthermia, drug delivery/release, and nanoparticle-mediated control of biological processes, even at subcellular level.
Keywords: hyperthermia; magnetic cell control; magnetic drug delivery systems; magnetic nanoparticles; nanotransducers.
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