Research Highlight

The chemotherapy drug cisplatin is a front-line therapy in the treatment of cervical cancer. Cisplatin’s basic mechanism works because it creates inter- and intra- strand crosslinks in the DNA. As a result, inhibition of gene transcription and DNA replication by DNA cross-linking blocks protein synthesis and cell multiplication. This image gives someone who is not familiar with the cisplatin mechanism a basic understanding of how cisplatin works and affects the cell. Source: Wilson, George D. "Radiation and the Cell Cycle, Revisited." Cancer Metastasis Rev Cancer and Metastasis Reviews 23.3/4 (2004): 209-25. Research Gate. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.

Injectable thermogelling cisplatin-loaded hydrogels for combined chemo-radiation therapy in cervical cancer

The effectiveness of Radiation Therapy is limited by the amount of radiation that can be delivered before severely damaging the surrounding tissue. To combat the potential short and long term toxicity issues associated with radiation therapy, my project will further current cervical cancer brachytherapy research by combining it with chemotherapy. We hypothesize that a combined chemo-radiation therapy approach will not only improve the therapeutic efficacy but also decrease the radiation associated toxicities. Current brachytherapy practices utilize polymeric implants known as ‘spacers’ in between the two radioactive seeds. The sole purpose of this practice is to provide a uniform dose distribution in a tumor. However, preliminary collaborative studies between Northeastern University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, have shown that these spacers can be modified with chemotherapeutic drugs, which can improve chemo-radiation therapy. In collaboration with my mentor Dr. Robert Cormack, we propose that the use of a injectable thermogelling hydrogel polymer (poly (N-isopropyl acrylamide)-based) doped with chemotherapeutic drug, Cisplatin, will provide a fast and sustained drug release profile allowing for radio sensitization and better radiation therapy. We plan to investigate the effectiveness of the hydrogel-based polymer composite to radiosensitive tumor cells and provide better therapeutic efficacy while lowering radiation doses and minimizing toxicities in cervical cancer.



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:

Digital diffraction diagnostics for lymphoma and HPV

Localized chemo- and chemo-radiation for the treatment of prostate cancer

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

Combined Cisplatin and Olaparib nanoparticles for ovarian cancer therapy

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

Radiation enhancement in cancer cells using gold and gadolinium nanoparticles

Co-delivery of protective substrate and chemotherapy drugs via lipid Bilayer Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticles

Erythropoietin improves antitumor immune response through reversal of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment

miRNA analysis of up regulated miRNA-645 and miRNA-1290 in mouse orthotropic 4t1 model of metastatic breast cancer

Clinical immunotherapy application in metastatic glioblastoma

Online monitoring and image-guided treatment of chemoresistant micrometastases

Pharmacokinetic analysis of changes in temozolomide distribution after antiangiogenic treatment of glioblastoma

Mechanistic and modeling studies of lipid nanoemulsions impact on oral lapatinib absorption

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

Development of PSMA-targeting nanoparticles for positron emitting tomography imaging in prostate cancer using animal models

Tracking pancreatic adenocarcinoma response to treatment using targeted, multi-modal nanoparticles

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

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

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

Identifying genomic and compound dependencies in undifferentiated sarcomas

Quantitative Multimodal Imaging of Tumor Response to Radiation

Co-delivery of antibiotics and topoisomerase inhibitors to overcome chemoresistance

Small T Antigen Effect on Mitotic Proteins B-Myb and FOXM1

Use of a Triblock Copolymer Hydrogel for Controlled Release of Cisplatin and BMN-673

Identification of novel therapeutic targets of the Notch1 signaling pathway

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