MAR 10, 2016 09:01 AM PST

How Magnetic Bacteria Work & Why Scientists Want These Magnets

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Nature is full of inspiration for scientists and engineers. Discovered by Richard P. Blakemore in 1975, magnetotactic bacteria are tiny microorganisms that have the capacity to convert iron into magenetite inside organelles called magnetosomes. Each of the magnetite crystal acts as a nano-magnet, and a chain of these act as a built-in compass for north and south detection. The bacteria use these internal compasses to move and align themselves in watery regions with optimal oxygen concentrations.

The perfectly uniform shape and size of the bacteria's magnetite crystals could be leveraged in science and medicine. Already, scientists are looking to adapt the magnetic crystals for targeted drug delivery of chemotherapies to cancer patients. The concept is to use the magnetite to control drug release, and locate drugs at specific targeted sites in order to minimize collateral damages to the healthy cells.

In addition to medical innovations, electronic systems that rely on magnet technology could also get a boost from the bacteria's magnetite products. Watch the video to learn more about how these bacteria may soon show up in pills and computer parts!
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
SEP 13, 2018
Videos
SEP 13, 2018
Antibiotics Are Still Being Over-Prescribed by Some Health Facilities
The opioid abuse problem continues unabated, despite public health efforts to curb the use of narcotic painkillers that can cause dependence and push patie...
SEP 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 24, 2018
Here's Why Goat Eyes Look Weird
Taking a closer look at a goat’s eyeball, you might notice that their pupils are elongated from side-to-side rather than round like a human’s;...
OCT 02, 2018
Videos
OCT 02, 2018
Chinese Hospital Ship Sails Into Venezuela
The Chinese hospital ship, the Ark of Peace, is a humanitarian effort by the Chinese government to provide health care to developing countries or areas in...
OCT 04, 2018
Videos
OCT 04, 2018
Understanding Fibromyalgia
Many people wonder exactly what causes Fibromyalgia, since there was never a definite answer, some question if the disease is even real despite the pain be...
OCT 08, 2018
Technology
OCT 08, 2018
The SolarFlower is a Promising New Take on Solar Energy
Solar energy is a clean and renewable energy source with promising applications in the near future as solar panel technology matures. SmartFlower is an int...
OCT 11, 2018
Videos
OCT 11, 2018
An Inexpensive Kit Teaches Kids About Molecular Biology
Biology is advancing at a rapid pace. Students will be ready for those advances if they can learn about cutting-edge concepts at an early age....
Loading Comments...