Spring 2013 Magazine

The Brain

The Art of Engineering


Download a PDF version of this story

Vinayak Dravid, professor of materials science and engineering, has been advancing “theranostics”—a combined approach that uses nanostructures to both diagnose and treat disease—for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. His group uses magnetic nanostructures as localized high-contrast agents for magnetic resonance imaging and for activation of therapeutic heat generated by external radio frequency fields. The figure above shows use of these nanostructures in brain tumor cells. Blue represents the cells’ nuclei, while green and red identify cancer markers targeted simultaneously by distinct antibody-functionalized magnetic nanostructure systems. Dravid’s group believes that the combination of targeted imaging and thermal activation has the potential to replace conventional cancer diagnosis and therapy.