Multifun - July 2011 - May 2015

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International Infrastructure / Projects / Collaborations


The MULTIFUN consortium focuses on the development and validation of new systems based upon minimal invasive nanotechnology for the early and selective detection and elimination of breast and pancreatic cancer with reduced side effects.  The project will deploy a strategy based on the multifuntionalisation of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (MNP), combining diagnostic and therapeutic features against breast and pancreatic cancer and cancer stem cells.

MULTIFUN Dissemination Booklet

Final Report Summary - MULTIFUN (Multifunctional Nanotechnology for Selective Detection and Treatment of Cancer

The MULTIFUN therapeutic approach is multimodal, combining the nanoparticle heating induced by alternating magnetic fields with intracellular drug delivery in order to reinforce the therapeutic outcome. Since nanoparticles can be detected through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they can also be used as contrast agents for cancer cell detection.  In this way, MULTIFUN combines therapeutic and diagnostic aspects leading to a potential “theragnostics” tool.

A key point of the project is to assess the safety and toxicicty of the developed nanoparticles. Thus, MULTIFUN includes a broad set of in vitro and in vivo toxicity and biodistribution tests in different animal models including mice, rats and pigs.

Finally, in order to improve the translation of the outcomes and their economic potential, the consortium also will study the scale-up of the production methods for the main components.



Project Title
MultiFunctional nanotechnology for selective detection and treatment of cancer

MultiFun consortium is focused on the development of functionalized nanoparticles for early stage detection and treatment of breast and pancreatic cancer, where cancer stem cells are the key target.

MultiFun strategy is based on the use of nanoparticles not only as a delivery agent but also as therapeutic and diagnostic-ones. The nanoparticle core is of iron oxide with superparamagnetic properties. Further, the nanoparticle is coated with a polysaccharide layer to render biocompatibility to the nanostructure. Additional functionalization steps to anchor ligands, antibodies, peptides  and/or anti-cancer agents will allow to asses the utility of different nanostructure formulations as breast and pancreatic cancer diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

The treatment will be based on a multimodal strategy which combines magnetic heating with the cancer cell delivery of anticancer agents. The effect observed when magnetic nanoparticles are subjected to AC magnetic fields is an increase of nanoparticle temperature which is transferred to their surroundings. This effect is called magnetic heating. Cancer cells are well known to be sensitive to temperatures above 45ºC, and they could be effectively eliminated by applying a local magnetic heating. Moreover, since magnetic nanoparticles can be detected by MRI they can be also used as contrast agents.

The simultaneous use of the nanosystem for both, therapeutic and diagnostic approaches is known as theragnosis leading to significant advantages with respect to traditional approaches which usually require different tools for diagnosis and treatment.

Principal Investigator
Prof. Yuri Volkov
Funding agency
European Commission
Date from
July 2011
Date to
May 2015

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