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National Cancer Institute
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MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University

Center Investigators

Robert Langer, Sc.D.
Principal Investigator


Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D.
Principal Investigator


Project 1: Targeted Nanoparticles for Tempospatially Controlled Combination Chemotherapy

Project Investigators: Robert Langer, Sc.D., and Omid Farokhzad, M.D.
The central aim of this CCNE Project is to develop nanotechnologies for targeted combination pharmacotherapy using existing compounds with suboptimal pharmaceutical properties. In the context of this proposal we hypothesize that (1) by engineering distinct drug-functionalized and ligand-functionalized polymers, we will be able to reproducibly engineer and characterize nanoparticles capable of delivering two or more drugs, and (2) by targeting these drug encapsulated nanoparticles to cancer cells we can achieve synergistic drug effects, which may translate to better efficacy and tolerability, making them suitable for potential clinical development.

Project 2: Nanoformulations for siRNA Delivery to Ovarian Cancer

Project Investigators: Phil Sharp, Ph.D., and Sangeeta Bhatia, M.D., Ph.D.
RNA interference offers an attractive means to silence expression of genes with extraordinary specificity, particularly for the subset of genes considered "undruggable" by either small molecules or protein pharmaceuticals. The specific aims of this Project are (1) development of safe and effective nanoparticles composed of novel biomaterials to deliver siRNA to ovarian cancer cells in the peritoneal cavity; (2) development of modular nanomaterials that will target the delivery of siRNAs to ovarian tumors, and (3) identification and testing by nanoparticle delivery of siRNAs to specific genes that when silenced induce cell death of subsets of ovarian cancer cells in the peritoneal cavity.

Project 3: Magnetic Nanoparticles for Cellular Analysis

Project Investigator: Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D.
The development of robust, versatile, and high-throughput biosensors is expected to have far-reaching implications in medicine, point-of-care clinical diagnostics, pharmaceutical drug development, and genomic and proteomic research. In this Project, we will build on our previously developed chip-based NMR systems dubbed "DMR" (diagnostic magnetic resonance) to detect and profile scant cancer cells for diagnostic and treatment efficacy purposes.

Project 4: Discrete Sensor Devices for Determining Cancer Targets

Project Investigator: Michael Cima, Ph.D.
This Project aims to radically transform clinical practice by enabling rapid, accurate, continuous, and noninvasive determination of tumor pH and pO2 using a biopsy Implantable tumor sensors (BITS).

Project 5: Nanomaterial-Based Approaches for Early Detection of Metastasis

Project Investigators: Angela Belcher, Ph.D., and Moungi Bawendi, Ph.D.
Current cancer nanotechnology has primarily focused on targeting the primary tumor. Less nanotechnology research has been geared toward metastasis. The specific aims of this Project include the development of metastasis seeking new nanomaterials. Specifics include (a) the development of QD-based sensors operating through a novel conformational mechanism that is generalizable to a wide range of bioanalytes of interest to cancer biology, (b) development of cell-permebale QD sensors to specific intracellular compartments while maintaining cell viability, (c) development of engineered nanostructured M13 bacteriophage, and (d) investigating activated platelet/CTC complexes as biomarkers.