ANN ARBOR---University of Michigan scientists will receive $4.4 million from the National Cancer Institute to develop an innovative approach to cancer treatment---nanomolecular "smart bombs" that sense pre-malignant and cancerous changes inside living cells and then destroy the cells before they can grow into tumors.
"Our goal is to create a multi-functional therapeutic device small enough to work inside living cells," says James R. Baker Jr., M.D., the project's principal investigator who directs the Center for Biologic Nanotechnology in the U-M Medical School. "The device will target to abnormal cells. If it confirms pre-cancerous lesions, it can release a substance to kill the cell and then verify that the cell is dead."
The U-M project is one of five funded by the NCI's new Unconventional Innovations Program, which supports peer-reviewed, high-risk, high-impact research with the potential to revolutionize cancer care.
"During the last decade, scientists have learned a great deal about biochemical and genetic changes within cells that can lead to cancer," says Allen Lichter, M.D., a cancer specialist and dean of the U-M Medical School. "Now we need to develop new ways to identify and treat these changes at the molecular level long before they can be detected with current technology. Research funded by this National Cancer Institute program could help bring us closer to that goal."
Synthetic polymers called dendrimers will be used as delivery vehicles to transport anti-cancer drugs and sensing agents into cells, according to Baker. "Dendrimers already are used in many biological applications," he says. "They have been shown to readily enter cells, and they have little toxicity when given intravenously."
Fifteen researchers from the U-M Medical School, the U-M College of Engineering
and the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts will collaborate on the
three-year research project. Working together, these scientists hope to d
Contact: Sally Pobojewski
University of Michigan