Novel diagnostic and therapeutic nanotechnologies that can enable earlier and more specific detection of cancer, as well as enhance treatment response, are critically needed to improve patient outcomes. For instance, these tools may allow the operating surgeon to directly visualize tumor margins and/or metastatic disease spread to nearby lymph nodes. At the same time, vital normal tissue structures can be avoided if labeled with suitable agents.
The goal of the MSK-Cornell Center for Translation of Cancer Nanomedicine (MC2TCN) is to advance, translate, and disseminate a suite of ultrasmall (<10 nm), multimodality (PET/optical), core-shell silica nanoparticles. In addition to fluorescent particles being highly versatile and exquisitely bright, their size, brightness, and geometry can be tuned for a variety of cancer-care applications. Earlier-generation particles, referred to as Cornell dots or C dots, have already received FDA investigational new drug approvals for phase 1 clinical trials in melanoma, breast cancer, uterine/cervical cancer, and brain tumor patients.
The center’s activities focus on the development and future implementation of newer classes of clinically promising particle imaging platforms for:
- Impacting surgical care. Optical particle probes are being developed to more reliably detect, stage, and treat disease in the operating room.
- Markedly improving drug delivery and treatment efficacy. Ultrasmall particles are being designed to carry small molecular drugs or radiotherapy labels. These can target and treat molecular-genetic alterations that may lead to tumor progression, as well as enhance tumor cell kill.
The success of these nanomedicines is expected to guide future clinical decision-making and may transform the way we diagnose and treat cancer patients.