BSA Approves Nanotechnology Initiative
On July 12, the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Board of Scientific Advisors (BSA) approved by unanimous vote the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer concept, a $145 million, 5-year initiative that will explore the potential for integrating nanotechnology platforms into cancer research. The Alliance, including researchers, clinicians, and public and private organizations, will build on existing scientific knowledge and accomplishments to help find ways to apply nanotechnology to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment.
"This new cancer initiative comes at a critical time, given the scientific advances in genomics, proteomics, and molecular imaging; our increased understanding of the mechanisms of cancer; and the rapidly expanding information technology capabilities for handling vast amounts of data," said NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. "The NCI Alliance has the potential to be transformational as we work together across all scientific disciplines to develop new preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic applications."
At its June 24 meeting, the BSA heard about the proposed initiatives for the Alliance. The July 12 follow-up meeting included presentations by researchers, clinicians, and engineers currently engaged in nanotechnology research. Based on feedback from the Board, Dr. Gregory J. Downing, director of NCI's Office of Technology and Industrial Relations, presented a revised concept reflecting BSA input. Specifically, the Board recommended the development of a steering committee, focused training programs for translational research, and emphasized the importance of cancer biology in the development of new technology platforms. The Board also recommended that the Alliance develop ways to involve patient organizations as it goes forward.
"We are grateful to the Board for its critical thinking that has much improved this effort. They have helped us shape our plan and refocus the way in which we are going to achieve our goal of advancing the integration of nanotechnology into cancer research," said Dr. von Eschenbach.
"We are very pleased with the BSA's decision because we are confident that nanotechnology will generate breakthrough advances in the field of cancer research," said Dr. Mauro Ferrari, professor at Ohio State University and special expert in nanotechnology to NCI. "Nanotechnology will not displace other modes of cancer research, but will instead offer new tools to researchers and clinicians.
"NCI has been a leader in funding cancer-related nanotechnology research for the past 5 years. Multiple strategies have been adopted to support efforts that will ensure a comprehensive and strategic cancer nanotechnology research portfolio, including NCI-supported cancer nanotechnology symposia, coordinated research efforts between intramural and extramural research, and implementation of NCI's Cancer Nanotechnology Plan (CNPlan).
The CNPlan includes integrated, milestone-driven, and product-oriented projects, including Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, multidisciplinary research teams, and nanotechnology platforms for cancer research.
NCI has devoted the past year to soliciting input and feedback on the CNPlan from a large cross-section of the cancer community. "This effort is about creating translational research teams of the future," said NCI deputy director Dr. Anna Barker. "The Plan will only succeed with widespread participation from multiple scientific disciplines and partners."
For more information, visit: http://otir.cancer.gov.