Carbon Nanotubes for Cancer

We are working to develop a new agent based on multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) for the diagnosis and monitoring of advanced breast cancer. Carbon nanotubes will be engineered to display small molecules on their surface to target them to tumors through selective binding to specific surface marker.

The nanotubes will be labeled with positron emitters, enabling the nanotubes to serve as a sensitive imaging tool for positron emission tomography (PET) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Carbon nanotubes offer many advantages for targeted molecular imaging techniques: foremost is their ability to deliver large numbers of imaging agents per each targeted molecular recognition event, which can improve the sensitivity of imaging; secondly, they can deliver several different types of agents to perform multimodality imaging; thirdly, they can be used for therapeutic applications including chemotherapeutic drug or gene delivery, and as mediators for photothermal cancer therapy.

Furthermore, they are efficient transducers of near infrared radiation into heat for use in thermal ablation or optical imaging than SWCNT, increasing the possibilities for applications in a single particle.

This research program aims to:

  • selectively target tumors with carbon nanotubes following intravenous injection
  • trace the distribution and clearance of carbon nanotubes using non-invasive imaging modalities including PET and MRI
  • optimize the spatial and temporal distribution of heat used for thermal ablation in order to localize heating to the tumor target and reduce collateral damage to normal cells and tissues
  • develop targeted thermal ablation therapies based upon CNTs for the treatment of cancers that are highly resistant to current therapies
  • minimize the toxicity of engineered nanomaterials through the application of rationale design principles