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Nanomedicine Project Targets Prostate Cancer

by Editor1 last modified April 17, 2008 - 08:08

The Prostate Cancer Foundation is committing $5 million to explore how nanomedicine can detect and treat prostate cancer. Partners in the research are: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Weill Cornell Medical College, Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Nanomedicine Project Targets Prostate Cancer

The Prostate Cancer Foundation brought a team together to develop “novel nanomedicines that can be given intravenously and directly [target]” prostate cancer cells.

The team was in fact brought together by PCF, and seeks to develop “novel nanomedicines that can be given intravenously and directly [target]” prostate cancer cells. One unique aspect of the collaboration is that all partners agreed to share intellectual property (IP) to avoid patent bottlenecks and barriers that might impede progress.

The Team’s Nanomedicine Focus
Researchers will also test if diagnostic or imaging materials that only seek cancer cells can be administered to cancer patients, allowing doctors to pinpoint the location of cancer cells and their specific characteristics.

The PCF explained the new collaboration will build on encouraging findings in nanobiology and nanomedicine.

“Lipid- or polymer-based nanoparticles have been used to improve the delivery and effectiveness of cancer drugs. Because they're so small, nanoparticles are able to access areas previously unreachable -- such as through cellular walls and inside cells themselves -- greatly increasing drugs' power and reach, and potentially reducing side effects. One example is nanoparticles of glowing cadmium selenide that help surgeons identify cancer tumors. In addition, ‘nanoshells’ coated with gold have been shown to kill cancer tumors in mice. And highly sensitive sensor chips made with "nanowires" can detect early-stage cancer in a blood sample.”

Leaders from the various partners put the upcoming work into perspective:

"I very much look forward to working…to create targeted nanoparticles that can deliver drugs to tumor sites… I think we all agree that this is the model required to create complex solutions to solve complex problems." Weill Cornell’s Dr. Bander said in a statement.

MIT’s Robert Langer, Sc.D said of the joint project: "We are exploring if tiny nanoparticles can act as 'Trojan Horses' in the body, delivering medication directly to the cancer cells while bypassing healthy cells… This [research] will permit the administration of drugs that might otherwise be too toxic, or dissolve too quickly in the bloodstream."

More About the Team
Each partner institution brings special expertise to this nanomedicine research effort:

Omid Farokhzad, M.D., is an expert in nanotechnology therapeutic development at the Harvard Medical School at the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the MIT-Harvard Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. A former graduate of Professor Langer's laboratory, Dr. Farokhzad will be a principal investigator on the project and will lead the team for Brigham and Women's Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and the administrative cite for this multi-institutional grant.

Neil Bander, M.D., a physician-researcher with substantial experience in antibody-targeted therapies who has developed an antibody against the surface target for prostate cancer, will direct efforts at Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Bander is a physician-researcher who heads a world-renown team experienced in antibody-targeted therapy for urological cancers.

Philip Kantoff, M.D., is the leader of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center Prostate Cancer Program and director of the prostate cancer Specialized Program of Research Excellence. As clinical research director, he leads Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's team.

Robert Langer will lead the effort in engineering and manufacturing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of the MIT-Center for Cancer Research and the National Cancer Institute’s Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. Langer is also an authority in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was recently awarded a National Medal of Science at the White House.