To advance this promising technology, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has awarded $16 million over five years to the School of Medicine to establish the Siteman Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (SCCNE). The NCI also awarded funding for six other Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNEs) around the United States.
Headed by Samuel A. Wickline, M.D., the SCCNE will research and apply nanotechnology for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Wickline, professor of medicine, biomedical engineering, physics, and cellular biology and a cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, along with Gregory M. Lanza, M.D., Ph.D., developed nano-scale particles that can home in on tumor cells to carry imaging agents and drug therapies directly to tumor sites. Lanza is associate professor of medicine and a cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
Capable of supporting a wide variety of homing, imaging, and therapeutic agents, the nanotechnology offers several advantages over traditional techniques. It can provide more accurate visualization and characterization of tumors, revealing even tiny tumors in medical scans. It has the ability to focus chemotherapeutic drugs exclusively at tumor sites to alleviate unpleasant or risky side effects. And it offers more precise adaptation of treatment to the biochemical and molecular features of each patient's disease.
"We've entered an era of precisely targeted and individualized cancer therapy," Wickline says. "Our nanotechnology will strongly affect the practice
Contact: Gwen Ericson
Washington University School of Medicine