NANOTECHNOLOGY FOR MINIMALLY INVASIVE CANCER DETECTION AND RESECTION Project Abstract Effective surgical resection of tumors is the most important predictor for cancer patient survival. Although surgery is curative in approximately 45% of cancer patients, up to 40% of patients have recurrent tumors due to undetectable differences between malignant and benign hyperplasic or normal tissue, leading to incomplete resection of cancerous tissue. In addition, patients that undergo surgery often suffer a decreased quality of life due to injury associated with the surgery. The primary goal of this Pathway to Independence Award in Cancer Nanotechnology Research (K99/R00) proposal is to integrate the unique capabilities of nanotechnology with innovative optical instrumentation to improve detection and resection of malignant tissue through minimally invasive surgery. This challenge will be addressed by combining expertise and research methodology in nanotechnology, instrumentation, and surgical oncology. This career development award has four specific aims: (1) develop biodegradable and nontoxic activatable fluorescence nanoparticle probes;(2) develop a miniaturized and flexible device for intraoperative fluorescence detection;(3) integrate the miniaturized, flexible optical device with endoscopy for minimally invasive detection of tumors;and (4) evaluate the spectral endoscope using spontaneous thoracic tumors in large animals (canines) during surgery to improve disease clearance and pathological staging. Accomplishing these specific aims will utilize targeted and activatable nanoparticles to increase specific localization of the probes in cancerous tissue. Detecting and resecting cancerous tissue via the fiber optic endoscopic imaging system will decrease the rate of tumor recurrence by more accurately detecting surgical margins and residual cancer and reduce surgery associated morbidity, such as decreasing patient pain, discomfort, and disability. My immediate career goal is to obtain a tenure-track faculty position that focuses on integrating nanotechnology with surgical oncology. Long-term, I would like to lead a research program at the interface of science, medicine, and engineering and expand the number and types of diseases that will be investigated. Ideally this research would be performed at an institution where I can be involved with academic and medical investigators from diverse fields. Training during the mentored phase of this award will focus on several key aspects to facilitate my development to achieve these goals as an independent investigator, including (1) providing the candidate with a strong foundation in optical nanoparticle engineering, (2) instrumentation for fiber optic based spectral and near-infrared imaging, and (3) methodological challenges to minimally invasive laparoscopic procedures in surgical oncology. Training will take place in the Emory-Georgia Tech Biomedical Engineering Department under the mentorship of Dr. Shuming Nie, Ph.D., an international expert in nanotechnology and director of the Emory-Georgia Tech Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, and at the University of Pennsylvania under the co-mentorship of Dr. Sunil Singhal, M.D., Director of the Thoracic Surgery Research Laboratory and Chief of Thoracic Surgery. The environment at these two institutions is ideal for this project because I will have full access to the most advanced instrumentation for nanoparticle design, synthesis, and characterization;I will benefit from instrumentation engineers with fabrication facilities to meet my needs;and a highly collaborative translational environment, which is paramount for successful development of this project that integrates nanotechnology with minimally invasive intraoperative instrumentation. In addition, the collaborative training will be supplemented by formal coursework at Emory and Georgia Tech in optics and instrumentation.
This career development award seeks to integrate new and innovative nanotechnology methods in cancer surgery. The research performed here will develop methods using nanoparticles to assist surgeons in distinguishing tumor margins and residual tumors while using minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. The combined effect of increasing tumor delineation under minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery will have a profound impact on reducing the high mortality rates from cancer and the morbidity associated with surgery.