CLEVELANDResearchers at Case Western Reserve University have received two grants totaling nearly $1.7 million to build nanoparticles that seek and destroy metastases too small to be detected with current technologies.
They are targeting aggressive cancers that persist through traditional chemotherapy and can form new tumors. The stealthy travel and growth of micrometastases is the hallmark of metastatic disease, the cause of most cancer deaths worldwide.
The group, led by Efstathios Karathanasis, assistant professor of biomedical engineering and radiology, will spend the next five years perfecting molecular coatings, called ligands, that enable nanochains injected into a patient's blood to home in on micrometastases. The National Cancer Institute awarded the group $1.6 million to pursue the work.
The Ohio Cancer Research Associates awarded the group another $60,000 to increase the efficiency and rapid dispersal of chemotherapy drugs the nanochains tote inside the metastases.
The grants will build on earlier work by Karathanasis, Mark Griswold, professor of radiology and director of MRI research at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, and Ruth Keri, professor of pharmacology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and associate director of research at the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. They and colleagues invented a nanochain that explodes a barrage of chemotherapy drugs inside a tumor.
"When a patient is diagnosed with cancer, he or she undergoes surgery to remove the primary tumor, then undergoes chemotherapy to kill any residual disease, including distant micrometastases," Karathanasis said.
"Chemotherapy drugs are very potent, but because they are randomly dispersed throughout the body in traditional chemotherapy, they aren't effective with the aggressive forms of cancer," he continued. "You have to give the patient so much of the drug that it would kill the patient before killing those
|Contact: Kevin Mayhood|
Case Western Reserve University