Emory University scientists have developed mammalian cells that produce magnetic nanoparticles to aid medical researchers in tracking cells, reports MIT's Tech Review. The scientists took a gene from pond bacteria that use small magnetic particles as a sort of compass and inserted it into mouse cells which then produced their own magnetic nanoparticles. When those mouse cells were inserted into a live mouse's brain, the cells could easily be seen on an MRI. "If genetically engineering cells to produce their own magnetic nanoparticles proves successful, this provides a new window through which to view many biological processes as they unfold, from the formation of tumors to the migration of stem cells injected to treat disease," says the article.
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