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Cancer Nanomedicine: Using Gold Nanoparticles to Overcome Radiotherapy Challenges
May 20, 2022
Globally, Cancer is the second leading cause of death. In 2018, there were 18.1 million new cases worldwide and 9.5 million cancer-related deaths. By 2040, the number of new cancer cases per year is expected to rise to 29.5 million and the number of cancer-related deaths to 16.4 million. Approximately 50 percent of all cancer patients can benefit from radiotherapy (RT) in the management of their disease. Of these, approximately half present early enough to pursue curative treatment approaches.
The major limitation to reaching a curative RT dose in high-risk (locally advanced) non-metastatic tumors is the high sensitivity to radiation and subsequent damage to the surrounding normal tissues. In an effort towards reducing side effects while increasing the damage to the tumour, targeting of high atomic number materials such as gold nanoparticles (GNPs) as radiosensitizers to the tumour tissue has shown promising results.
Moving forward, understanding of the complex biological system present in and around the tumour is essential for optimizing the use of the radiosensitizing GNPs, as outlined by a consortium of labs, including my own. In this talk, I will discuss the importance of using GNP-based novel strategies to overcome current challenges imposed by the tumour microenvironment.
Dr. Devika Chithrani is an associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Victoria, Canada. She was awarded the faculty gold medal and the gold medal for physics when she received her bachelor’s degree (first class honors). To continue her graduate studies, she was awarded a prestigious NSERC Graduate scholarship in materials science and engineering at University of Toronto. Following successful completion of her doctoral work, she was awarded one of the most prestigious awards in Canada, the NSERC PDF, to continue her post-graduate research at the University of Toronto.
Dr. Chithrani now leverages nanotechnology to create innovations that advance the care of cancer patients. She is using gold nanoparticles as a radiation dose enhancer in cancer therapy. This work was featured on the cover of the journal Radiation Research and received the Michael S. Patterson publication award. She has developed three-dimensional tumor models to optimize bio-nano interface in cancer therapy. This work is featured on the cover of the journal Nano-Micro Letters.
Dr. Chithrani is considered one of the leaders in the field of nanotechnology and her publications have received over 10,000 citations over the past 10 years. Her passion is to develop smart nanomaterials to improve exiting cancer therapeutics. She believes that many side effects due to chemotherapy can be reduced by controlled delivery of anticancer drugs using smart nanomaterials.