News Release: Research

Oct. 19,  2009

Dana Foundation Awards $200,000 Grant to Emory for Nanotechnology Brain Tumor Research

News Article ImageEmory Winship Cancer Institute

Emory University researchers have been awarded a Dana Foundation grant of $200,000 for nanotechnology and brain tumor research. The principal investigator is Costas G. Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurosurgery in the Emory University School of Medicine and Emory Winship Cancer Institute.

"Novel treatment approaches are required to attack the molecular and biological features of invasive malignant brain tumors," says Hadjipanayis. "We have recently introduced a new generation of nanoparticles that are more effective at MRI contrast enhancement and treatment delivery." The grant will fund continued development of this new nanotechnology for imaging enhancement and therapy delivery in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), a common and difficult-to-treat brain tumor. The magnetic nanoparticle has emerged in recent years as a clinical tool for cancer cell detection, treatment and monitoring. Current magnetic nanoparticle technology relies on iron-oxide nanoparticles (IONPs). Various formulations of IONPs have been developed for drug delivery, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) contrast enhancement and hyperthermia, or heat-induced treatment of cancer. Use of these particles is limited, however, due to their weak magnetic properties.

Hadjipanayis and his team developed nanoparticles composed of pure iron, which in preliminary studies have greater magnetic properties in comparison to IONPs. Studies indicate that these nanoparticles are much more effective at MRI contrast enhancement and local hyperthermia treatment than standard IONPs.

The grant highlights important preliminary data in which standard IONPs are joined to an antibody that is specific to GBM cells. In mice that have been implanted with human GBM tumors, the newly developed nanoparticles will be used to target implanted brain tumors to demonstrate MRI contrast enhancement of the GBM cells as well as hyperthermia delivery. "The ability to combine MRI contrast enhancement and therapy delivery may further advance the use of magnetic nanoparticles in biomedical research and eventually in clinical applications," says Hadjipanayis.

The research is a unique multidisciplinary collaboration among Hadjipanayis, Hui Mao, PhD, associate professor in Emory's Department of Radiology, and George Hadjipanayis, PhD, head of the Magnetics Laboratory, and chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware.

About the Dana Foundation
The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic organization with particular interests in neuroscience, immunology and arts education.

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