Targeted Tumor Therapy


Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
Principal Investigator: Rudolph Juliano, Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


  • Smart Nanoparticles: Uses soft lithography to create an array of nanoparticles of virtually any size and shape.  Nanoparticles will be coated with traditional therapeutic drugs, siRNA, or X-ray & MRI contrast agents for visualization.  They are called "smart" particles because they will also conjugate a homing peptide to the surface of the nanoparticle to specifically target it to tumors.

  • Delivery of adjuvants for tumor immunity to dendritic cells.

  • Delivery of antisense oligonucleotides to tumor cells to up regulate production of pro-apoptotic Bcl-X proteins.

  • Designing iron-oxide-based nanoparticles that can be manipulated in vivo through external magnetic fields.  These magnetic nanoparticles are being evaluated for their ability to image and treat brain cancers.


Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Focused on Therapy Response
Principal Investigator: Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., Stanford University


  • Magneto-Nano Protein Chip: Uses a state-of-the-art magneto nanosensors to detect biomolecules bound to magnetic nanoparticles.  The biomolecules produce a change in the magnetic field applied by the sense which is detected.  The biomolecules are then magnetically sorted to capture tumor markers in human serum.

  • Use of Raman spectroscopy and nanoparticles to detect phosphorylated proteins to better understand signaling cascades.

  • Modification of quantum dots (Qdots) with tumor-specific antibody fragments for visualization of tumors.  Qdots are excited at a specific wavelength of light and emit at a lower energy wavelength which allows for image capturing.  This project will try to target the agB3 integrin to image tumor neovasculature.  This project will evaluate the Qdots ability to bind specific markers on prostate and other cancer cell lines.


Center of Nanotechnology for Treatment, Understanding & Monitoring of Cancer (NANO-TUMOR)
Principal Investigator: Sadik Esener, Ph.D, University of California, San Diego


  • Developing and evaluating tumor-homing peptide-nanoparticle complexes.

  • Developing porous nanoparticles for drug and sensor delivery.  These structures allow for a controlled, sustained release of a therapeutic drug over time.

  • Computational methods for monitoring tumor progression and response using data from nanoparticle-delivered sensors.

  • Enzyme-sensitive nanoparticle coatings to increase tumor-targeting capabilities of smart nanoparticle platforms.


Emory-Georgia Tech Nanotechnology Center for Personalized & Predictive Oncology
Principal Investigators: Shuming Nie, Ph.D., Emory University & Georgia Institute of Technology
                                  Jonathan Simons, M.D., Emory University


  • Developing Qdots in the range of 700-1700 nm wavelength for targeted delivery of contrast and therapeutic agents to tumor tissue.  Focusing their research on overcoming the problem of tissue penetration associated with other Qdot projects.  Targeting the urokinase plasminogen activator receptor and epidermal growth factor receptor which are both markers of human breast cancer as well as several other types of cancer.

  • Developing a series of multifunctional nanoparticle therapeutics by using three taxane drugs, two targeting ligands, and a biodegradable carrier.  Group has already developed a Taxol-folic acid-heparin ternary nanoparticle that has shown a 17-fold increase in anti-tumor activity in xenograft tumor models.

  • Use of antibody-conjugated nanoparticles to tack prostate tumors in live animals.  One goal is to develop a single cell gap junction dye transfer assay to distinguish varying degrees of malignancy within prostate cancer cells.  Further use of this technology will be used to image and target bone metastasis which is a lethal phenotype in prostate, breast, and lung cancers.


MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
Principal Investigators: Robert Langer, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
                                  Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital


  • Targeted nanoparticles for treating prostate cancer.
  • Polymer nanoparticles & Qdots for siRNA delivery.
  • Next-generation magnetic nanoparticles for multimodal, non-invasive tumor imaging.
  • Implantable, biodegradable microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), also known as lab-on-a-chip devices, for in vivo molecular sensing of tumor-associated biomolecules.
  • Low-toxicity nanocrystal Qdots for biomedical sensing.




Nanomaterials for Cancer Diagnostics & Therapeutics
Principal Investigator: Chad Mirkin, Ph.D., Northwestern University


  • Designing bio-barcodes to detect ovarian cancer markers.
  • Developing a new class of drugs that will inhibit or reduce metastasis.
  • Bioactivated nanoprobes for molecular imaging of cancer.
  • Targeted, multifunctional nanoparticles for drug and radiopharmaceutical delivery.
  • Nanocomposites for imaging prostate cancer cells and treatment of advanced prostate cancer.
  • Self-assembling supramolecular nanostructures that deliver chemotherapy agents directly to breast and other cancer tumors.


Nanosystems Biology Cancer Center
Principal Investigator: James Heath, Ph.D., California Institute of Technology


  • Uses computational methods to construct databases which show gene expression of different cancers.  This is done through a selective filtering process in which the computer screens the expression of genes in one organ and compares them to another organ.  From this process, the number of genes of interest are reduced from 3000 to between 10-30 per cancer and can be used to detail the health of the organ.

  • Development of a microfluidic/nanotechnologic platform for the high-throughput detection and analysis of rare anti-tumor cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs).  These CTLs are specific to tumorogenic markers and make up only 0.01-0.1% of the blood volume.  It is nearly impossible to collect these through traditional flow cytometry due to the need for a large number of cells.


The Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
Principal Investigator: Samuel Wickline, M.D., Washington University in Saint Louis


  • Magnetic nanoparticles that can target multiple tumors for early detection and therapy of cancer.
  • Nanoparticle-based contrast agent for ultrasound imaging and therapy of tumors.
  • Bioinformatics tools to create a database for modeling the behavior of targeted nanoparticles in the body.
  • Novel nanoscale sensors for rapidly screening potential anticancer drugs in single cells.



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University of California, Irvine
BME 240
June 2006

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