The investigators first created the polymer by joining two polymers that each have constituents found on the surface of cell membranes. They then added this polymer to the standard chemical reaction mixture used to produce iron oxide nanoparticles. The resulting particles have an average diameter of approximately 34 nanometers, with the iron oxide core having an average diameter of 9 nanometers and a range of 6 to 14 nanometers. In comparison, iron oxide nanoparticles prepared without the coating had an average diameter of 13 nanometers and a range of 9 to 21 nanometers. The magnetic properties of the stabilized nanoparticles were similar to those of standard iron oxide nanoparticles.
Characterization studies showed that both polymer components were essential to nanoparticle stabilization. The investigators note that they have developed synthetic methods that should enable them to add targeting agents and even drug molecules to these stabilized magnetic nanoparticles.