You are here: Home ANH Funded Research 2008 Department of Defense (DoD) – ANH Planning Grants 2007 Principal Investigator: Chun Li, Ph.D.
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Principal Investigator: Chun Li, Ph.D.

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center

The development of biocompatible nanoparticles for molecular imaging and targeted therapy is an area of considerable current interest across a number of disciplines including chemistry, engineering, imaging science, biology, medicine, and surgery. The premise is that nanosized devices possess unique structural and functional properties that are not available from either discrete molecules or bulk materials. Although tremendous progress has been made over the last several decades in the design and fabrication of novel nanodevices, translation to the clinic has been slow. Thus, the major goals of this program are to identify and address problems impeding rapid advance of innovative nanodevices into the clinic through fostering interdisciplinary collaboration from member institutions of Alliance for Nanohealth (ANH) at Texas Medical Center, and to lay the foundation and prepare investigators for submission of future center grant applications with substantial and sustainable support.

Our program is centered on our vision that external stimuli used in conjunction with nanodevices under imaging guidance can markedly impact the management of cancer patients. This focus is based on several novel and exciting nanotechnologies including targeted hollow gold nanoshells, carbon nanotube, water-soluble polymeric-drug conjugate, and biodegradable and biocompatible polymeric micelles, and two-stage nanoparticulate delivery systems developed at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center (MDACC), Rice University, and UT Health Science Center (UTHSC). These technologies, when linked to local expertise in radiation and thermal ablation therapies and noninvasive imaging, are capable of offering significantly improved therapeutic outcome, allowing rapid translation to novel therapeutic approaches to cancer. Five highly interactive research projects and one developmental project are proposed:

Project 1 focuses on the use of carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles for radiofrequency-induced-thermal ablation; Project 2 focuses on the use of polymeric drug delivery system to enhance response to radiochemotherapy; Project 3 focuses on the use of hollow gold nanoshells for photothermal and photomechanical therapy, and for photoacoustic tomography imaging; Project 4 focuses on the use of two-stage delivery system for the thermal ablation of tumor vasculature; Project 5 focuses on the use of ultra-short single-walled carbon nanotubes loaded with gadolinium (gado-nanotubes) for magnetic resonance imaging and thermal ablation with alternating magnetic field (AC magnetic field). The Developmental Project (Steven Frank, M. D.-MDACC and Lon Wilson, Ph.D.-Rice) will study MRI-guided branchytherapy using radioactive seeds embedded with gado-nanotubes. Core 1 (John Hazle, Ph.D.-MDACC) is a small animal imaging core and Core 2 (Valen E. Johnson, Ph.D.-MDACC) is biostatistics resources. Core 1 and Core 2 are critical for gathering preliminary data and for planning of the future center grants.

The seed grant will be used to gather preliminary data to demonstrate “prove of concept” our hypothesis, and to strengthen the “weak link” in the program structure.

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