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Monday, October 17, 2005


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National Cancer Institute Announces $35 Million in Awards to 12 Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships

The National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced funding for a major component of its $144.3 million, five-year initiative for nanotechnology in cancer research. Awards totaling $35 million over five years, with $7 million total in the first year, will establish 12 Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships.

"The future of oncology — and the opportunity to eliminate the suffering and death due to cancer — will hinge upon our ability to confront cancer at its molecular level," said Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute. "Nanodevices, invisible to the naked eye and a tiny fraction the width of a human hair, will enable researchers to probe genetic defects inside cells, detect the earliest aberrations of cellular function that lead to cancer, and correct those errant processes long before they give rise to cancers large enough to be diagnosed by today’s methods."

Nanotechnology, the development and engineering of devices so small that they are measured on a molecular scale, already has demonstrated promising results in cancer research and treatment. In September 2004, the NCI launched the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer as a comprehensive, integrated initiative to develop and translate cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice.

The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer encompasses four major program components, including the Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships. These partnerships, modeled after the NIH Bioengineering Research Partnerships, are designed to develop technologies for new products in six key programmatic areas: molecular imaging and early detection, in vivo imaging, reporters of efficacy (e.g., real-time assessments of treatment), multifunctional therapeutics, prevention and control, and research enablers (opening new pathways for research).

The awards reflect a cross-section of technologies, disciplines, cancer types, geographies, and risk/reward profiles, and will link universities to NCI-Designated Cancer Centers. The awards, in alphabetical order by principal investigator, include:

  • Nanotherapeutic Strategy for Multidrug Resistant Tumors, Northeastern University, Boston, Mass. Principal investigator: Mansoor Amiji, Ph.D.

  • DNA-linked Dendrimer Nanoparticle Systems for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich. Principal investigator: James Baker Jr., M.D.

  • Metallofullerene Nanoplatform for Imaging and Treating Infiltrative Tumor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Va. Principal investigator: Panos Fatouros, Ph.D.

  • Detecting Cancer Early with Targeted Nano-probes for Vascular Signatures, University of California, San Francisco, Calif. Principal investigator: Douglas Hanahan, Ph.D.

  • Photodestruction of Ovarian Cancer: ErbB3 Targeted Aptamer-Nanoparticle Conjugate, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass. Principal investigator: Tayyaba Hasan, Ph.D.

  • Hybrid Nanoparticles in Imaging and Therapy of Prostate Cancer, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo. Principal investigator: Kattesh Katti, Ph.D.

  • Near-Infrared Fluorescence Nanoparticles for Targeted Optical Imaging, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas. Principal investigator: Chun Li, Ph.D.

  • Integrated System for Cancer Biomarker Detection, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. Principal investigator: Scott Manalis, Ph.D.

  • Novel Cancer Nanotechnology Platforms for Photodynamic Therapy and Imaging, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, N.Y. Principal investigator: Allan Oseroff, M.D., Ph.D.

  • Multifunctional Nanoparticles in Diagnosis and Therapy of Pancreatic Cancer, State University of New York, Buffalo, N.Y. Principal investigator: Paras Prasad, Ph.D.

  • Nanotechnology Platform for Targeting Solid Tumors, The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center, San Diego, Calif. Principal investigator: Jan Schnitzer, M.D.

  • Nanotechnology Platform for Pediatric Brain Cancer Imaging and Therapy, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. Principal investigator: Raymond Sze, M.D.

“These Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships are an excellent mix of projects that include advanced technologies as well as technologies in earlier stages of development that have significant potential to exponentially increase progress in all aspects of cancer treatment and diagnosis,” said NCI Deputy Director Anna Barker, Ph.D. “We are very pleased that these partnerships include nationwide collaboration across scientific disciplines, and that the researchers are applying a broad range of nanomaterials to address some of cancer’s most stubborn challenges. In addition, the partnerships balance a number of well-established researchers with those newly entering the field.”

The other three components of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, all of which are now funded and operational, include:

  • Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNEs). These centers are multi-institutional hubs that will integrate nanotechnology across the cancer research continuum and provide new solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Seven centers were funded in October 2005, with first-year funding totaling $26.3 million (http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/CentersofCancerNanotechExcellence).

  • The Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory (NCL). Established at NCI’s Frederick, Md., facility in 2004, this laboratory performs analytical tests to guide the research community; supports regulatory decisions; and helps identify and monitor environmental, health, and safety ramifications of nanotech applications. The NCL recently completed its first year of operation and is actively characterizing nanoparticles for academic and commercial researchers through a rigorous set of analytical protocols. The NCL works with the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For more information, please visit http://ncl.cancer.gov.

  • Multidisciplinary research training and team development. The application of nanotechnology to cancer requires cross-disciplinary training in biological and physical sciences. The Alliance will support training and career development initiatives to establish integrated teams of cancer researchers, through mechanisms such as the NIH National Research Service Awards for Senior Fellows and NIH National Research Service Awards for Postdoctoral Fellows. Applications are now being accepted for training awards (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-CA-06-010.html). In addition, through NCI’s collaboration with the National Science Foundation, a total of $12.8 million in grants were awarded in September 2005 to four institutions for research over the next 5 years. These grants allow U.S. science and engineering doctoral students to focus on interdisciplinary nanoscience and technology research with applications to cancer (http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/pressreleases/NCINSFIGERT).

For more information on the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, please visit http://nano.cancer.gov.

For more information about cancer, please visit the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov or call NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4 CANCER (1-800-422-6237).

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.


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