Synthetic and living micropropellers for convection-enhanced nanoparticle transport.
Nanoparticles (NPs) have emerged as an advantageous drug delivery platform for the treatment of various ailments including cancer and cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. However, their efficacy in shuttling materials to diseased tissue is hampered by a number of physiological barriers. One hurdle is transport out of the blood vessels, compounded by difficulties in subsequent penetration into the target tissue. Here, we report the use of two distinct micropropellers powered by rotating magnetic fields to increase diffusion-limited NP transport by enhancing local fluid convection. In the first approach, we used a single synthetic magnetic microrobot called an artificial bacterial flagellum (ABF), and in the second approach, we used swarms of magnetotactic bacteria (MTB) to create a directable "living ferrofluid" by exploiting ferrohydrodynamics. Both approaches enhance NP transport in a microfluidic model of blood extravasation and tissue penetration that consists of microchannels bordered by a collagen matrix.