News Feature | March 4, 2014

Could Ferrofluid Be The Future Of Biotechnology?

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By Liisa Vexler

A fluid designed originally for use in various technological applications may have broken frontiers by providing support to a device designed to imitate the heart’s ability to pump blood around the body. This promising fluid is called Ferrofluid and is comprised of particles in water or organic solvent containing iron. The recent scientific discovery was made by an engineer from Suprock Technologies, Chris Suprock.

The prototype is being developed by Suprock’s team and will not involve the use of mechanics or motors for its function.  Instead, electromagnetic science will be used. Ferrofluid will be particularly useful for chemotherapy where the fluid can be used to target medication transmission to specific areas rather than larger areas, reducing discomfort for the patient. This method will also reduce the number of healthy cells typically destroyed by standard chemotherapy treatment.

There have already been promising results from the use of magnetic drug therapy to target the treatment of cancers and tumors. This has been achieved by researchers Andreas S. Lübbe, Christoph Alexiou, and Christian Bergemann. Further research may reveal other useful ways in which Ferrofluid can be used, including the treatment of ulcers, hyperthermia and improvement of visual impairments.  Further potential uses include MRI screening, delicate fissures (due to the sealing capacity of the fluid) and more advanced visual problems. When it comes to one of the leading causes of blindness, retinal detachment, Ferrofluid may be useful for sealing tiny retinal holes. These findings are highlighted in a dissertation by Olin Thompson Mefford, a PhD specializing in molecular science and engineering. The dissertation has been submitted to the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.