Research Highlight

PCR amplification plot of magnetic beads reacted with circulating tumor DNA. Source: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Capture of circulating tumor DNA through the use of biotinylated poly-lysine affixed to gold nanoparticles

In order to accurately treat and stage tumors, it is necessary to identify the current molecular alterations within the tumor DNA. However, repeated biopsies to uncover tumor DNA are problematic. For this reason, the capture and analysis of circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) in blood would serve as a better method. ctDNA comes from DNA shed by apoptotic tumor cells. The current technical problem with ctDNA stems from the fact that, until late stages of cancer, ctDNA is present at very low levels in the blood, which makes its subsequent detection and analysis difficult with standard DNA isolation methods. Using biotinylated poly-lysine affixed to streptavidin coated magnetic nanoparticles can potentially have advantages over existing methods. The positive charge of the poly-lysine will attract negatively charged circulating DNA from the blood. The magnetic nanoparticles, with the circulating DNA, could then be easily trapped and used for upstream analysis without need for purification steps. This approach may result to a novel method for the collection of ctDNA from plasma.



Trainee Research

CaNCURE provides trainees with a 6-month hands-on research experience and one-on-one mentoring by leading researchers in cancer nanomedicine.   Projects performed by current and past participants include:

Development of a Point of Care Assay for Detecting High Risk HPV in Resource Limited Settings

Surface-targeting, ligand-switching nanoparticles for mitochondrial drug delivery in prostate cancer

T1-weighted imaging of primary pancreatic adenocarcinoma using magnetic ferumoxytol nanoparticles

The Assessment and Comparison of Ferumoxtran as Contrast Imaging Agent in Patients with Pancreatic Cancers.

Targeting CXCR4/SDF-1a using phytochemicals to inhibit progression and metastasis of pancreatic cancer

Analysis of DREAM and E2F1 Competition for Cell Cycle Promoters during G1.

Quantitative Multimodal Imaging of Tumor Response to Radiation

Digital diffraction diagnostics for lymphoma and HPV

miRNA analysis in mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. (Proj 2) The inhibition of PD-L1 on a Pan02 cell line w/ siRNA-nanodrug & gemcitabine treatment

Nano-plasmonic exosome (nPLEX) assays for exosome analysis and antibody validation

Iron-chelating PEG-like nanoprobes as therapeutic and 89Zr/PET imaging agents

Quantification of SPION accumulation in tumors using positive-contrast MRI

Protein-encapsulated nanoparticles for oral delivery of anti-mitotic agents in prostate cancer

Software with built-in neuroanatomy atlas provides insight into cancer treatment

Combined Cisplatin and Olaparib nanoparticles for ovarian cancer therapy

Assessing the reproducibility of MRI-based brain tumor measurements between both observers and MRI vendors

Uptake and localization of nanoparticles in prostate and lung cancer cells as a function of time and nanoparticle type

Optimizing murine cells for in vitro modeling of high-grade serous ovarian cancer

Capture of circulating tumor DNA through the use of biotinylated poly-lysine affixed to gold nanoparticles

Optimization of macrophage-targeted nanoparticles for positron emission tomography imaging in cancer

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Combined delivery of targeted liposomal chemotherapeutics and photodynamic therapy to treat pancreatic cancer

Implementation of novel MR-based attenuation correction in PET/MR pelvic scans

Development of a novel nanogel for non-invasive transdermal delivery of cancer vaccines using hyaluronic acid

Soleil Doggett (Biology, '16) talks to her fellow peers about her research on oxygenating tumors to stimulate the anti-tumor immune response.


Trainee e-portfolios

Photo credit: Tom Kates Photography

While on co-op, trainees document their research in an e-portfolio.  This gives trainees the opportunity to provide regular updates on their research progress, reflect on training they are receiving, and explain how their research fits within the field of cancer nanomedicine.  These research e-portfolios can be accessed through individual trainee profiles.  The complete collection may be found here.

Check out this month’s featured e-portfolios by Rachel Fontana and Jordan Harris!


Presentation at CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day

At the completion of their co-op, trainees are provided with the opportunity to present their research to a wider audience.  In our 1st annual CaNCURE Nanomedicine Day, trainees prepared interactive, digital posters to display on electronic poster boards.  Over 100 faculty, students, and researchers attended our first event!

Check out the news article and congrats to all the poster winners!

Jordan Harris: Most Innovative Cancer Research Award
Jeremy Thong: Best Undergraduate Research Poster Award
Craig Pille: Most Promising Translational Research Award
Bryan Kynnap: Most Promising Basic Science Award
Jordan Harris: Top Chemical Engineering Poster Award