Intrathecal (IT) drug delivery is a standard technique which involves direct injection of drugs into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)-filled space within the spinal canal to treat many diseases of the central nervous system. Currently, in order to reach the therapeutic drug concentration at certain locations within the spinal canal, high drug doses are used. With no method to deliver the large drug doses locally, current IT drug delivery treatments are hindered with wide drug distributions throughout the central nervous system (CNS) which cause harmful side effects. In order to overcome the current limitations of IT drug delivery, we have developed the novel method of intrathecal magnetic drug targeting (IT-MDT). Gold-coated magnetite nanoparticles are infused into a physiologically and anatomically relevant in vitro human spine model and then targeted to a specific site using external magnetic fields, resulting in a substantial increase in therapeutic nanoparticle localization at the site of interest. Experiments aiming to determine the effect of key parameters such as magnet strength, duration of magnetic field exposure, location of magnetic field, and ferrous implants on the collection efficiency of our superparamagnetic nanoparticles in the targeting region were performed. Our experiments indicate that intrathecal magnetic drug targeting and implant-assisted IT-MDT are promising techniques for concentrating and localizing drug-functionalized nanoparticles at required target sites within the spinal canal for potential treatment of diseases affecting the central nervous system.

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