Principal investigators Dr. Lily Yang and Dr. Hui Mao* received a nearly $2.4 million grant over five years to fund their study "Theranostic nanoparticles for targeted treatment of pancreatic cancer" from the Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnership (CNPP) component of the NIH/NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. Dr. Charles Staley is a co-PI on the study. CNPP grants are dedicated to the advancement of new nanotechnology discoveries and their transformation into cancer-relevant applications with clinical utility.
The study aims to to combine the function of MRI visualization with drug delivery capabilities for pancreatic cancer therapy and diagnosis. Using magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles developed by Drs. Yang and Mao and their teams, the researchers plan to improve the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents by directing drug-carrying nanoparticles to the molecule uPAR (urokinase plasminogen activator receptor), which is prevalent in pancreatic cancer cells.
Magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles will be loaded with different types of drug molecules that can be released at the site of the tumor or even inside of the tumor cells. "These nanoparticles can be tracked by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)," says Dr. Yang, "so we will test our ability to monitor drug delivery and treatment responses with imaging technology."
* Dr Mao is an Associate Professor of Radiology and the Center for Systems Imaging at Emory.