Inspiration from Biomineralization Processes for Novel Magnetic MOF Generation

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

Magnetically-responsive MOFs for targeted cargo delivery are synthesized via a novel and simple methodology


Metal-organic frameworks, or MOFs for short, are a class of crystalline porous material of tremendous interest to the scientific community due to their extraordinarily large internal surface area. Anastasia Terzopoulou from the deMello group, together with a team of ETH and international collaborators, has developed a novel approach to generate MOFs with magnetic properties via a simple, single-step procedure.


MOFs are organic-inorganic hybrid materials that consist of a network of metal ions linked together by organic ligands. This cage-like structure endows them with attractive properties such as high-loading capacity, making them promising materials for applications in targeted drug delivery and catalysis. Recently, efforts have been made to generate MOFs with additional magnetic properties to obtain spatially controllable materials by means of a magnetic field. 


After recently presenting their MOFBOTS, a micro-scale magnetic responsive robot decorated with MOFs for drug loading, the team lead by Dr. Puigmartí-Luis explored a different approach to generate magnetic MOFs without the incorporation of external magnetic components. In this work, they report a one-pot synthesis that can be carried out in mild conditions in water and at room temperature. This is in stark contrast with previously reported procedures that usually require complex multi-step syntheses. As the authors point out, this strategy was inspired by naturally occurring biomineralization processes. The approach was based on an established methodology for MOFs synthesis, which was modified by the addition of iron salt and the careful optimization of the reagents. After thorough characterization of the new material and comparison with its non-magnetic counterpart, this magnetically responsive MOF was tested as a micro-transporter for targeted gene delivery. Cells were incubated with the magnetic MOFs previously loaded with plasmid DNA, and the gene transfection of the target cells by the plasmid was investigated. The authors demonstrated a distinctly higher delivery efficiency when magnetically driving the loaded MOFs as compared to a bare plasmid system.


This work opens up new possibilities for the simple generation of magnetic MOFs for targeted cargo delivery and highlights the versatility of the methods which could be applied to a wide range of different MOFs.


Written by Julie Probst.

Read the full paper here.


A magnetic MOF nanocrystal that can be loaded with biological cargo and magnetically controlled for targeted delivery

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