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Nanoparticle created as diagnostic, therapeutic agent; brain tumors targeted

This release is being issued jointly by Virginia Commonwealth University and Virginia Tech

RICHMOND, Va. (Oct. 18, 2005) Researchers working with a man-made, metal-filled nanoparticle are developing the material for use as a diagnostic and therapeutic agent that may boost the sensitivity of MRI techniques and improve the diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors.

Panos Fatouros, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Radiology at Virginia Commonwealth University, has been awarded a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute to lead a team of scientists from VCU and Virginia Tech. In a cooperative effort, they will work to further develop, produce and test nanoparticles that can identify brain tumor cells and selectively target them for radiation therapy.

Harry Dorn, Ph.D., and Harry Gibson, Ph.D., both chemistry professors at Virginia Tech, along with other colleagues created a nanoparticle called a functional metallofullerene (fMF), also known as a "buckyball," that will serve as the basis for the proposed research. It is envisioned that this research will generate a multi-functional platform that will integrate diagnostic and therapeutic functions.

"The metal-filled nanoparticles developed by our colleagues at Virginia Tech, and the advances in imaging, molecular biology and drug delivery at VCU, have opened the possibility for combined targeted diagnosis and therapy of tumors and their infiltrative aspects," said Fatouros. In effect, one can look at these nanoparticles as targeted drug delivery vehicles.

Tumor cells that extend beyond the well-defined tumor margins are often impossible to visualize with current imaging techniques. According to Fatouros, this research may one day benefit patients with advanced brain tumors by enabling treatment of tumor cells that have spread beyond the visible margins of the tumor on CT and MRI scans. Fatouros said that t
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Contact: Sathya Achia-Abraham
sbachia@vcu.edu
804-827-0890
Virginia Commonwealth University
18-Oct-2005


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