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National Cancer Institute
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Nanomaterials for Cancer Diagnostics and Therapeutics
Northwestern University

Center Investigators

Chad A. Mirkin, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator


Steven T. Rosen, M.D.
Principal Investigator


Project 1: NanoFlares for the Detection of Cancer Stem Cells

Project Investigator: Chad A. Mirkin, Ph.D.
This Project will develop and validate NanoFlare technology for the detection and isolation of cancer stem cells—first in cell culture, and then from tumor and peripheral blood samples. Cancer stem cells are phenotypically distinct from their more differentiated and therapeutically sensitive counterparts, yet conventional tools for detecting and isolating cancer stem cells are almost exclusively limited to proteins. The NanoFlare technology provides the unique capability of phenotyping tumor cell subpopulations simultaneously at the protein and mRNA levels.

Project 2: Theranostic Magnetic Nanostructures for the Molecular Imaging of Cancer

Project Investigator: Thomas J. Meade, Ph.D.
This Project will develop new magnetic resonance imaging agents that can be used for simultaneous imaging and treatment of cancer and that are 10-100 times more sensitive than currently used agents. They will use bioactivated probes attached to magnetic nanostructure platforms that are capable of reporting on physiological properties of lesions and tumors, imaging cell fate and migration, gene expression, and secondary messenger activation in vivo.

Project 3: Nanostructured Matrices for Cancer Cell Biology

Project Investigator: Joel Collier, Ph.D.
This Project will use molecular approaches to design nanomaterials that mimic the physical features of protein matrices and can act as a culture system that supports complex biological functions. One approach is based on nanopatterned substrates with patterns that can be used to constrain the sizes of focal adhesions, making them more relevant to what is observed in cells within tissue and providing a reproducible microenvironment. The second approach is based on 3D matrices that are self-assembled from peptides, peptide amphiphiles, and proteins, permitting the incorporation and display of defined amino acid motifs.

Project 4: Preclinical Validation of Polyvalent siRNA Gold Nanoparticle Conjugates as Anti-glioma Therapeutics

Project Investigator: Alexander H. Stegh, Ph.D.
This project aims to preclincially validate polyvalent gold nanoparticles functionalized with RNAi (RNA-Au NPs) as anti-glioma therapeutics. This nano-RNAi platform will be used to target signature lesions of GBM, which play important role in driving gliomapathogenesis, mediating therapeutic resistance and instigating neurologically debilitating necrogenesis. RNA-Au NPs will be validated on multiple levels, using glioma stem cell cultures, derived xenografts, and genetically engineered glioma mouse model.