Madrid, Feb 4 (EFE).- A team of researchers from the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) has shown that the coverage of magnetic metallic nanoparticles is key to making these vehicles effective in their objective: to eliminate cancer cells or perform diagnostics. Magnetic metal nanoparticles have been used for some time now with promising results. Specifically, iron oxide nanoparticles are used to release drugs locally in the body, eliminate tumor cells by emitting heat (hyperthermia) or perform diagnoses in magnetic resonance imaging. However, to use them for clinical purposes, it is necessary to know how they behave inside cells, what intracellular pathways they activate, and how they degrade, in order to determine their therapeutic effects and possible toxicity. In this context, a study led by CSIC researchers and published in the journal Biomaterials has shown that the coverage of these nanoparticles determines how they move and how they degrade inside cells and is decisive for improving the effectiveness of nanoparticles. To use them in medical applications, they are usually coated with different types of molecules and polymers (macromolecules) to make them more biocompatible, stable, biodegradable and to prevent them from forming aggregates that could generate thrombi. Depending on the coating, when the nanoparticles come into contact with the biological environment, different interactions occur with the proteins in the medium and this affects their final size, the pathway of cellular uptake, and the transit they follow until their degradation in the machinery cell phone, says the leader of the study, Domingo F. Barber, from the CNB. “The type of coating and the increase in size of the nanoparticle due to its association with proteins in the biological medium are essential to dictate the routes of cell entry and intravesicular transit, as well as the rate of cell degradation”, concludes Yadileiny Portilla, researcher at the CNB-CSIC and first author of the work together with Vladimir Mulens. The study has observed that in the tumor cells of mouse models, the nanoparticles accumulate in endolysosomes, where they degrade more slowly, while in the macrophage cells that surround the tumor, the degradation takes place more or less rapidly depending on the covering. “These findings are of vital importance when designing nanoparticles since we will be able, depending on their future application, to enhance the desired effect depending on the therapeutic target,” says the researcher. The use of iron oxide nanoparticles is widespread in various fields of biomedicine, since they could facilitate the targeted release of drugs and biomolecules, their ability to produce heat is used in the treatment of cancer due to intracellular hyperthermia, and they are also capable of to generate diagnostic contrast in magnetic resonance imaging.