UNC Lineberger scientists awarded grant to apply nanotechnology to prostate cancer therapy

Thursday, April 23, 2009 — A team of scientists from the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center has received one of 10 creativity awards from the Prostate Cancer Foundation for advanced prostate cancer research. The one-year awards are designed to support innovative ideas that have the potential to achieve breakthroughs for the detection and treatment of prostate cancer.

Their work involves nanoscale fabrication technology that may provide new modeling capabilities and therapies to arrest lethal prostate cancer progression.

The Lineberger team members include Shelton Earp, M.D., professor of medicine and pharmacology and center director; Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., Chancellor’s Eminent Professor of Chemistry in the UNC College of Arts and Sciences; and Young Whang, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine in the UNC School of Medicine.

Earp, Whang and colleagues discovered that a signaling molecule named Ack1 can cause low-grade, tumorigenic prostate cancer cells to become androgen-independent, the state that results in advanced human prostate cancer. Other UNC scientists, led by DeSimone, have developed a nanoparticle drug delivery technology.

The scientists plan to model widely spread prostate cancer using Ack1-driven prostate cancer cells to test whether DeSimone’s nanoparticles can be targeted to the cancer, both to detect its location and to carry effective treatment that is not toxic to the rest of the body.

UNC Lineberger contact: Dianne Shaw (919) 966-5905, dgs@med.unc.edu

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