NCI Launches Nanotechnology Alliance
Two panel discussions held yesterday at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) - one for science reporters and one for researchers - marked the launch of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, a $144.3 million, 5-year initiative that brings together the physical, biological, and medical science communities for a common goal: directing nanotechnology for the benefit of cancer patients.
"Today we have the opportunity to renew our commitment to the conquest of cancer," said NCI Director Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach. "We're talking about an emerging field of great promise, and an old problem of great devastation that requires new hope."
Representatives from cancer centers, industry, and federal agencies attended the discussion in person and via teleconference and webcast. Dr. Anna Barker, deputy director of NCI's Advanced Technologies and Strategic Partnerships, gave a brief overview of its components: funding research through three to five Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, as well as individual investigators; fostering multidisciplinary team assembly via interdisciplinary training; and establishing a Nanotechnology Characterization Laboratory at NCI's Frederick, Md., facility. Read more
Realizing the Promise of Nanotechnology
Yesterday marked the official launch of the NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer, an initiative that I believe could be a transformational event that moves the science of nanotechnology from a promising medical application to a central component in a new era in the diagnosis, monitoring, prevention, and treatment of cancer. When combined with the strides we have made in understanding cancer at the genetic, cellular, and molecular levels, nanotechnology may provide a whole new category of interventions that were not envisioned even 5 to 10 years ago.
The potential uses of nanodevices are staggering. Early research indicates, for instance, that nanosystems may allow for real-time assessments of therapeutic and surgical procedures, enabling clinicians to rapidly determine whether a treatment is working. Other work has shown the ability of targeted nanodevices to elude biological blockades and transport high concentrations of multiple therapeutics directly to cancer cells and the tissues in their immediate microenvironment. In this way, not only are healthy cells spared, but malignant cells and their allies in metastasis are eliminated. Nanotechnology also is making existing technologies more effective. In research presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in March, for example, NCI researchers presented results from work in mice that showed that a nanoscale contrast agent vastly enhanced the ability of MRI to detect breast cancer lymph node metastases. Read more