Functionalized magnetic nanoparticles followed two main directions in the field of biomedical applications:
one direction is as image enhancing agents for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the other is as drugdelivery
devices for various biologically-active substances. A third field which just emerges in nanomedicine is the
field of the so-called theranostic devices which combines in the same delivery vehicle both the therapeutic agent
and the contrast substance. The advantages of using nanoparticles instead of larger carriers for delivery of both drug
and image contrast enhancing agents will be highlighted throughout this review article. Despite the ever increasing
number of articles reporting both in vitro and in vivo studies carried out on functionalized magnetic nanoparticles
and envisaging their potential biomedical applications, only few formulations reached the phase of clinical trials
and even fewer became marketed products. The perspectives in the field are open, since new drugs require new delivery
devices and possibly new means of functionalization. At the same time, the field of nanomedicine also provides the opportunity to
better exploit drugs that are already in clinical use by improving their bioavailability through appropriate nanoformulations.
Keywords: Magnetic nanoparticles, drug delivery, MRI, triggered release.
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