Posted: Oct 15, 2010

$12 million grant awarded to Northwestern's Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

(Nanowerk News) The National Cancer Institute has recently awarded Northwestern a $12 million grant in an effort to further advance the role of nanotechnology in diagnosing and treating cancer.
The funds will support the NU Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, a collaborative venture between NU's International Institute for Nanotechnology and the Chicago-based Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Kathleen Cook, project manager of the NU-CCNE, said the center will focus on implementing nano-scale science to develop revolutionary therapies and diagnostics that target brain, breast and pancreatic cancers in particular.
"The grant is a cornerstone in an effort to harness the developments of nanotechnology at Northwestern in creating new approaches to nanotechnology cancer diagnostics and therapy," said Chad Mirkin, director of the IIN and co-principal investigator of NU-CCNE. "It positions Northwestern to continue to be a leader in the development of nanomedicine."
The IIN was established at NU in 2000 to explore materials that are as small as one-billionth of a meter. Though miniscule, nanoparticles may be key in revolutionizing a number of industries and addressing some of the world's most pressing health problems.
The IIN website states nanotechnological breakthroughs will drive the future of medical care.
"(Scientists) are working on the development of new (techniques) that will increase the accuracy of diagnosis by orders of magnitude, new imaging techniques and methods for targeted delivery of chemotherapeutic agents," the institute's website states.
The IIN's partnership with the Lurie Cancer Center will bring together interdisciplinary teams of nanoscientists, clinicians, cancer biologists and engineers from NU, the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois at Chicago to work on five cancer-related nanotechnology projects.
This $12 million award adds to funding the NU-CCNE received beginning in 2005 from the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer Program. Since then, the center has developed a number of novel technologies, Cook said.
"There could be particles that will sense a cancer tumor and give us a signal that can be read ... maybe through a color change that shows up on an MRI," she said. "Scientists are also working on filling very tiny nanoparticles with chemotherapeutic drugs ... to target tumors."
The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer Program will continue to provide funds to the NU-CCNE until 2015 to continue not only research efforts but also training in nanotechnology and cancer. The funding will also support summer fellowships in nanotechnology for medical students and summer research programs for undergraduates, Cook said.
Source: Northwestern University