Northwestern University has received a 5-year, $11.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to use nanotechnology to develop next-generation cancer treatments.
With NCI support, the new Northwestern University Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (Northwestern CCNE) will use nucleic acid–based nanoconstructs called spherical nucleic acids to gain access to intracellular environments, discover new aspects of cancer biology, and create effective cancer treatment options.
Spherical nucleic acids are nontoxic to humans, making them a versatile tool in medicine. They were invented at Northwestern in 1996 and have been used for therapeutic purposes since 2010.
Under the direction of principal investigators Chad A. Mirkin, PhD, and Leonidas C. Platanias, MD, PhD, the Northwestern CCNE will unite scientists, engineers, and clinicians from diverse fields, such as nanoscience, cancer biology, chemistry, materials science, physics, engineering, and medicine. They will work toward the common goal of developing spherical nucleic acid nanostructures poised to enter the clinic as revolutionary, cancer-killing agents to improve and save the lives of patients suffering from glioblastoma multiforme and prostate cancer.
The CCNE will feature three projects (one discovery-based and two translational) and one core facility. The center also will have for-profit partners united to provide novel nanotechnology-based solutions to daunting and complex issues in cancer research and treatment.
“The support from the National Cancer Institute will enable researchers to continue to make significant cancer-relevant discoveries that ultimately can be transferred to the clinic and profoundly impact the way cancers are studied and treated,” Dr. Platanias said. ■