Nanomedicine for early detection of cancer and cancer therapy response monitoring

D. Akin
Stanford University, US

Keywords: cancer, nanotechnology

Summary:

Nanotechnology offers a wide range of solutions for medicine from ultrasensitive and rapid diagnostics to novel therapeutics and imaging agents. Because of this, it is increasingly playing an essential role in the clinical management of cancer. Presently, the use of such tools is enabling cancer researchers and oncologist to study, monitor, and alter the multiple systems that go wrong in the cancer and identify key biochemical, genomic, proteomic and epigenetic targets that can be attacked by newly emerging directed molecular therapies. Nanotechnology is also playing an important role in the improvement of drug safety and therapeutic efficacy of anticancer drugs. As such, nanotechnology is continuing to serve as the critical component of the discovery and development engine powering both near-term and long-term advances in cancer diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prevention. More importantly, nanotechnology is serving as a versatile and affordable development platform by quickly turning biological insights into promising cancer research opportunities and clinically relevant cancer products. Equipped with the progressive knowledge culmination in cancer biology and oncology within the past 2-3 decades and the recent technological breakthroughs that enabled comprehensive analysis of cancer, we now know that no one change will cause cells to become cancerous and, in fact, to become cancerous, cells must successfully go through a set of hallmark events and the microenvironment of these cancer initiating cells should enable and support their carcinogenic transformation. In view of this, we now regard cancer as a disease of highly interlinked systems and complex networks of genetic, epigenetic, proteomic, metabolic and other abnormal regulatory events. Therefore, nanomedical diagnostic tests and treatment approaches purely based on a single analyte type alone would be insufficient for addressing the heterogenic nature of cancer cells and cancer as a disease. An approach encompassing comprehensive cancer analysis and consecutive medical guidance is needed for better clinical outcomes for cancer patients. Towards these goals, in the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and Translation (CCNE-T) at Stanford University, we focus on cancer early detection and therapy response monitoring. We develop and utilize exquisitely sensitive, multiplexing capable, wide-dynamic detection range cancer specific biosensors and novel molecular imaging instruments, as well as novel nanoparticles. Few key examples of these will be given during this talk to highlight the benefits of nanomedicine in cancer.