Journal of Sol-Gel Science and Technology

, Volume 88, Issue 1, pp 57–65 | Cite as

Novel drug delivery system based on NiCu nanoparticles for targeting various cells

  • Janja StergarEmail author
  • Irena Ban
  • Lidija Gradišnik
  • Uroš MaverEmail author
Original Paper: Sol-gel and hybrid materials for biological and health (medical) applications


In the past two decades, several novel nanoparticles (NPs) were shown to have great potential to be used as drug delivering systems. This is especially true for superparamagnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), which exhibit their magnetic properties only when there is an influence of external magnetic fields. These have received much attention in the last couple of years due to a relatively simple chemical structure, ease of preparation, possible preparation in various shapes and very small sizes, as well due to their favorable properties in biomedical applications (e.g., biocompatibility). Controlled drug delivery systems have several advantages compared to traditional pharmaceutical formulations. For example, these can enable drug transportation to the desired site of action in the body, through which, its influence on healthy tissues, as well as unwanted effects, can be minimized. Such form of delivery is most important in case of drugs with a very narrow therapeutic index or if the drug itself is a toxic compound as is the case in many antitumor drugs. In this study, we prepared a novel controlled drug delivery formulation using the sol–gel procedure, composed of Ni67.5Cu32.5 MNPs in a silica matrix. As the model drug, we used the fluorescent dye rhodamine 6G (RHO6G) to ease the evaluation of the delivery performance to various human cells (human fibroblast cell line, HeLa cells, and Caco-2 cells). The drug release performance was assessed also using in vitro drug release studies. The combination of different physico-chemical and morphological methods with biocompatibility studies served as a general evaluation of the novel formulations safety and efficiency. Graphical abstract

Graphical abstract

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NiCu magnetic nanoparticles Drug delivery system Rhodamine 6G Human fibroblast cell line HeLa cells Caco-2 cells. 



The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Slovenian Research Agency (grant numbers: P-0036, I0-0029 and J2-6760).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Biomedical SciencesUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia
  2. 2.Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia
  3. 3.Department of Pharmacology, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

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