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Rice, TMC team take aim at pancreatic cancer
Date:10/18/2010

Researchers from Rice University's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP), the radiology department at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are preparing to test a combined approach for diagnosing and treating pancreatic cancer with a specially engineered nanoparticle.

The five-year, preclinical testing program will be funded by a newly announced $1.8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer program.

"Pancreatic cancer is notoriously difficult to treat, and we hope nanoparticle-based 'theranostics' can change that," said LANP Director Naomi Halas, Rice's Stanley C. Moore Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of chemistry and biomedical engineering. "Our nanoparticles are designed to specifically target cancer cells and to function as both diagnostic and therapeutic agents."

Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer. Surgery is often the only treatment option, and the five-year, postsurgical survival rate is less than 25 percent.

Halas is the inventor of gold nanoshells, tiny gold-sheathed particles that can harvest light and convert it to heat. She also helped pioneer the use of nanoshells for cancer treatment, and she is the principal investigator on the new NCI grant. The theranostic project team includes co-principal investigators Amit Joshi, assistant professor of radiology at BCM; Sunil Krishnan, associate professor in radiation oncology at MD Anderson; and Peter Nordlander, professor of physics and astronomy at Rice.

Theranostics involve technologies and agents that can diagnose and treat diseases in a single procedure. The theranostic particle that will be tested at Rice, BCM and MD Anderson was invented at LANP.

"A seamless integration of multiple imaging and therapeutic technologies within a single nanoparticle is required to tackle diseases like pancreatic
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Contact: David Ruth
druth@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

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