Novel Magnetic Nanostructures for Medical Applications


  • Duration: 4 years
  • Funded by: EU
  • Program: Horizon 2020
  • Sub-program: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, Research & Innovation Staff Exchanges
  • Coordinator: University of the Basque Country, Spain
  • Partners:
    • IMG Pharma Biotech SL, Spain
    • Nanovex Biotechnologies SL, Spain
    • Complutense University of Madrid, Spain
    • INESC Microsistemas e Nanotecnologias, Portugal
    • University of Porto, Portugal
    • Gebze Technical University, Turkey
    • Vienna BioCenter Core Facilities, GmbH, Austria
    • Centro de Desenvolvimento da Tecnologia Nuclear, Brazil
    • University of California, USA
    • University of Texas, USA
    • Cedenna, Chile
    • Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria, Chile
    • ICETA (University of Porto), Portugal
    • Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil
  • Total project costs: € 846 000


MAGNAMED designs, fabricates, and assesses novel magnetic nanostructures (MNS) with unique spin configurations for innovative diagnostics and therapy techniques. Early stage detection and effective treatment are key to reducing cancer mortality. Current clinical procedures fail to detect small concentrations of tumoral biomarkers. Magnetic nanoparticles (MNP), like beads, have attracted much attention for their ability to improve cancer detection limits and treatment technologies. However, there are several limitations to the use of MNP. As an emerging alternative, MNS are being explored. Unlike MNP, MNS (e.g., nanodisks) present a planar shape with novel properties for diagnosis – high magnetic moment and large size, which can significantly improve the sensor sensitivity – and for therapy: due to their planar shape, alternate magnetic fields provoke a magneto-mechanical action on the cell membrane that triggers cell death. The efficiency of MNS in these two medical applications has not been investigated yet for MNS at the nanometer scale.

The challenge of this project is to produce MNS with nanometer dimensions suitable for medical applications. Several lithography techniques will be used to fabricate MNS in vortex and antiferromagnetic spin configurations covering a broad size range (40 to 4,000 nm). After functionalization, MNS will be exploited in:

  1. Diagnostics, using giant magnetoresistance (GMR) sensors for the detection of tumoral biomarkers (dermicidin and carcinoembryonic antigen)
  2. Therapy – evaluation of effectiveness of tumoral cell annihilation by the magneto-mechanical action of MNS in in vitro assays of melanoma and colorectal cancer cells.   

MAGNAMED is a cross-sectoral project involving physics, chemistry, and medicine. Findings will have a medium-term impact on the European strategy for early stage detection of cancer and a long-term impact on the development of novel and ground-breaking therapeutics techniques.