Nuclear MRI moves science 1 step closer to imitating ‘Fantastic Voyage’

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Scientists in China are working on a way to magnetize a type of algae called spirulina, which is already in use as a dietary supplement, and then track its movements in the body using nuclear magnetic resonance.

They’ve shown this can work in the bellies of rats and hope it can one day work in humans, perhaps for delivering anticancer drugs. On that score, the technique’s promise is all the more exciting for spirulina’s apparent toxicity to cancer cells—and no others.

Science magazine has coverage of the research, which was published Nov. 22 in the journal Science Robotics.

“It’s a step forward that you can track these swimmers in the body,” Joseph Wang, a UC-San Diego nanoengineer, tells Science writer Elizabeth Pennisi. “And it’s biocompatible and low cost.”

Peer Fischer of the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Germany adds that spirulina’s penchant for killing cancer cells “seems to be an interesting, unexpected feature.”

Click the link to read Pennisi’s article and view an accompanying video: