IGERT: Building Leadership for the Nanotechnology Workforce of Tomorrow (University of Washington)
Combining nanoparticles with a chlorotoxin from scorpion venom, scientists at the University of Washington discovered a way to tag brain cancer cells and disable the machinery on the cell's surface, denying the cancer cells the ability to migrate through the brain.
These findings could lead to new conventional drug treatments and have the potential to significantly impact the fight against cancer, particularly aggressive and complicated brain cancers.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2011 alone, 22,340 people will be diagnosed with brain cancer and more than 13,000 will die of brain cancer or related problems. The ability to non-surgically halt the growth of brain tumors will be a major victory and will pave the way for treating other types of cancers.
The researchers use magnetic resonance and optical imaging to identify cells that the chlorotoxin-decorated nanoparticles tag as cancerous (see image, right). The visualization aids neurosurgeons during surgical removal of brain tumors. While conducting this research, the team discovered that nanoparticles and scorpion venom, when combined, halt the spread of brain cancer by disrupting the cancerous cells' movement.
The research was conducted by Omid Veiseh and faculty mentor Miqin Zhang through NSF's Integrative Graduate Education and Traineeship program. The program is intended to establish new models for graduate education and training in a fertile environment for collaborative research that transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries. It is also intended to facilitate diversity in student participation and preparation, and to contribute to a world-class, broadly inclusive, and globally engaged science and engineering workforce.
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