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ORLANDO, FL, May 19, 2008 – Carbon-coated nanomagnets may offer a new form of cancer treatment. Research presented today at the 103rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association (AUA) suggests that nanoparticles consisting of metallic iron with a protective carbon coat could serve as a safe and effective hyperthermia agent. In animal models, using heat to selectively kill tumor cells has proven efficient. Using metallic iron in the nanoparticles (in lieu of iron oxide) would allow heating at greater temperatures; and coating the iron with carbon would prevent the iron from rusting, which can hinder the effectiveness of the therapy. Researchers from Germany presented their findings to reporters in a special press conference on May 19, 2008 at 11:00 a.m.


In order to ensure that the nanoparticles did not harm non-cancerous cells, researchers tested their compatibility with normal tissues. Human PC-3 prostate cells and a non-malignant fibroblast cell line were incubated with the carbon coated nanomagnets and, after the incubation period, the cells did not experience major cytotoxic (cell-destroying) effects. The cell cycle distribution and the apoptosis rate were not impaired by the presence of nanomagnets, reflecting the biocompatible character of these structures. This breakthrough could provide an effective treatment option for many types of cancer, without the destruction of surrounding cells associated with chemotherapy or invasive surgery.


The fact that the carbon-coating prevented cell destruction during incubation proves that the nanoparticles could potentially serve as safe and effective hyperthermia agents, targeting and destroying cancerous cells. These findings underscore a need for more research regarding the use of nanoparticles as potential cancer treatments.


In addition to the author, Anthony Y. Smith, M.D., a member of the AUA Public Media Committee, will be on hand to answer questions and provide third-party perspective on the study.


NOTE TO REPORTERS: Experts are available to discuss these studies outside normal briefing times. To arrange an interview with an expert, please contact the AUA Communications Office at the number above or e-mail Wendy Isett at


Taylor A, Kraemer K, Hampel S, Fuessel S, Klingeler R, Ritschel M et al: Carbon-coated nanomagnets as potential hyperthermia agents. J Urol, suppl., 2008; 179: 392, abstract 1141.


About the American Urological Association: Founded in 1902 and headquartered near Baltimore, Maryland, the American Urological Association is the pre-eminent professional organization for urologists, with more than 15,000 members throughout the world. An educational nonprofit organization, the AUA pursues its mission of fostering the highest standards of urologic care by carrying out a wide variety of programs for members and their patients, including, an award-winning on-line patient education resource, and the American Urological Association Foundation, Inc.

Wendy Waldsachs Isett, AUA