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WUSTL awarded $18 million to treat heart, lungs with nanotechnology
Date:9/29/2010

An $18 million research program headed by Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis will research therapies and diagnostic tools for heart and lung diseases that use nanotechnology.

The award, from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, will fund five years of research at Washington University and four collaborating institutions: Texas A&M University, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and the University of California, Santa Barbara and Berkeley.

Nanoparticles are 1 to 100 billionths of a meter in size. Scientists custom-engineer these tiny particles to deliver imaging agents or therapies, such as drugs, chemotherapies or genetic material to specific targets, such as tumors, a particular cell type or sites of inflammation.

"Nanoparticles have several advantages over the small molecules typically used in imaging and therapeutics," says Michael Welch, PhD, professor of radiology and developmental biology and co-principal investigator. "Not only can we load them with agents that deliver therapies to specific targets, we can include imaging agents that help us track both the nanoparticles and the therapeutic agent and change the surface of the particles to customize the amount of time they spend in the body."

The new initiative includes four principal research projects.

A synthetic chemistry group, led by Karen Wooley, PhD, of Texas A&M University, will develop targeting molecules that allow nanoparticles to bind with receptors on the surfaces of cells involved in heart and lung diseases. Scientists target nanoparticles to different objectives in the body by customizing the particles' physical properties. This can include both adjustments of the materials nanoparticles are made of and alterations of the crystalline and molecular configurations of the particles' components.

Wooley joins Welch as co-principal investigator of the overall project.

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Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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