Directing cell therapy to anatomic target sites in vivo with magnetic resonance targeting

Munitta Muthana*, Aneurin J. Kennerley, Russell Hughes, Ester Fagnano, Jay Richardson, Melanie Paul, Craig Murdoch, Fiona Wright, Christopher Payne, Mark F. Lythgoe, Neil Farrow, Jon Dobson, Joe Conner, Jim M. Wild, Claire Lewis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell-based therapy exploits modified human cells to treat diseases but its targeted application in specific tissues, particularly those lying deep in the body where direct injection is not possible, has been problematic. Here we use a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system to direct macrophages carrying an oncolytic virus, Seprehvir, into primary and metastatic tumour sites in mice. To achieve this, we magnetically label macrophages with super-paramagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles and apply pulsed magnetic field gradients in the direction of the tumour sites. Magnetic resonance targeting guides macrophages from the bloodstream into tumours, resulting in increased tumour macrophage infiltration and reduction in tumour burden and metastasis. Our study indicates that clinical MRI scanners can not only track the location of magnetically labelled cells but also have the potential to steer them into one or more target tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8009
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 18 Aug 2015

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