The main objective of this project is to develop new theranostic probes that exploit the rapidly advancing field of nanotechnology. We will utilize the extraordinary magnetic properties of nanostructures for simultaneous imaging and treatment of cancer. Further, our bioactivated probes can be used for imaging cell fate and migration, gene expression, and secondary messenger activation in vivo. The rationale for this approach is that noninvasive molecular imaging is ideal for correlating the status of the tumor to treatment efficacy. Molecular imaging is an important tool for biological sciences and the clinical areas. In order to maximize the impact of these techniques, sensitive contrast agents must be developed that are also functional. We have demonstrated the ability of bioactivated MR contrast agents to act as in vivo biochemical reporters. Our project design is to use bioactivated probes attached to magnetic nanostructure (MNS) platforms for reporting on physiological properties of lesions and tumors. Imaging the MNS in conjunction with cancer treatments over time, we will be able to evaluate the molecular response of the cancer to the therapeutic. We have assembled a team of investigators whose specialties include synthetic and materials chemistry, nanostructure preparation, molecular imaging and oncology. Four graduate students of all levels with experience in at least one of these areas (molecular imaging, synthetic chemistry, nanostructure preparation) will be trained during the five years of funding supplied by this grant.

Public Health Relevance

Pancreatic cancer and cancers of the central nervous system are associated with the worst prognoses of all cancers. The high rates of mortality are attributed to resistance of tumors towards therapeutics and physiological barriers. Clinicians need a straightforward way of evaluating treatment efficacy. Our goal is to improve treatments by providing a nonivasive way to monitor the effects of therapeutics overtime.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Specialized Center--Cooperative Agreements (U54)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-GRB-S)
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Northwestern University at Chicago
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