Dr. Stefan Bossmann
Collateral damage caused by anticancer drugs that are in the body but do not reach the tumor is one of the gravest complications of classic chemotherapy. We are designing nanoparticles (10 billionths of a meter—10 nano-meters—in diameter) that have organic coatings that make them attractive to cells that migrate to tumors (e.g., stem cells or monocytes). The nanoparticles can be given intravenously, use the migrating cells as “transport ships” to tumors, and reach the tumors within one to several days. Once the transport cells have reached the tumor, we apply hyperthermia (magnetic field induced heating) to kill the transport cells and release their “payload” of nanoparticles and chemotherapeutic drugs, which are then taken up by the cancer cells. Then we can kill the cancer cells with hyperthermia as well. The synergy between chemotherapeutic drugs and hyperthermia is a unique combination allowing better treatment chances for many patients. Cell-delivery of antitumor drugs allows for much lower drug dosages, and minimizes the amount of drug that does not reach the tumor. This research is done in collaboration with Drs. Deryl L. Troyer, anatomy and physiology, and Viktor Chikan, chemistry.
We are also developing early diagnostics of several cancers (breast, lung, and pancreatic) using nanoparticle-based diagnostic nanoplatforms that are able to measure the activity of cancer-specific enzymes in blood and urine.