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Masimo Corporation — Mechanical Drugs: Harnessing Cancer Aggressiveness to Overcome Its Resistance

Principal Investigators: Dmitri Lapotko, Ph.D., and Mien-Chie Hung, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Ann Gillenwater, M.D., Lie Nie, M.D., Vladimir Torchilin, Ph.D., and Jack Phan, M.D., Ph.D.

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to develop a new therapeutic approach to triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) which is based on intracellular mechanical impact generated by plasmonic nanobubbles. The latter are non-stationary vapor bubbles produced around intracellular gold nanoparticle clusters upon their exposure to a short laser pulse. Following absorption of a laser pulse, a gold cluster instantaneously converts optical energy into localized heat and then vapor, generating mechanical impact and killing the host cell. In this project, gold nanoparticles will be co-administered with liposome-encapsulated drugs and/or radiotherapy to assess the synergy among the three modalities: 1) mechanical impact, 2) chemotherapy aided by drug release from nanobubble-disrupted liposomes, and 3) radiation, which will be enhanced due to the presence of gold nanoclusters. EGFR targeting of nanoparticles will enable accumulation of larger gold clusters in EGFR-expressing cancer cells. This, in turn, will lead to a lower plasmonic bubble generation threshold and higher selectivity of the treatment, so a low-energy laser pulse will be sufficient to kill cancer cells while sparing normal cells.

Project Expertise

The project team includes expertise in nanomaterials, bio/chemistry, physics, surgery, radiation oncology, and molecular / cell / cancer biology.

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