Nano Science and Technology Institute

Top Researchers, Drugmakers, and Regulators Convene at CancerNano 2007

Execs Looks to Speed Access to New Nano-Based Imaging and Therapeutic Modalities.

The world’s top cancer researchers, clinicians, drugmakers and regulators will gather at a special symposium during Nanotech 2007 to explore how to speed up ways to move the most promising cancer-fighting nanotechnology research into clinical trials.

The CancerNano 2007 symposium will be held during Nanotech 2007 (May 20-24, 2007 in Santa Clara, California). Attending the event will be experts from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and leading researchers from Genentech, Pfizer, Stanford University, UCLA, and the California Institute of Technology.

“Our main objective at [CancerNano] is to break down the silos of researchers, financial and government interests, and show how some exciting nano-based research could make real differences in fighting cancer, if we could only get it out of the lab and into clinical trials,” said Dr. Mansoor Amiji, co-chair of the CancerNano 2007 symposium. Dr. Amiji acutely feels the need to accelerate nano review for fighting disease, as he also is a researcher focusing on nanotechnology applications for drug and gene delivery in cancer at Northeastern University’s Bouvé College of Health Sciences.

“The promise of nano-based therapies and approaches to find and fight cancer is very high, but until we can get these exciting discoveries into therapies, they just aren’t helping people. So, at this event we want to talk about all the ways we can take these discoveries and turn them into products,” Amiji said.

Nano Queued Up To Make a Difference

While the industry tries to come up with safe and more efficient ways to get nano-approaches into trials, the number and type of discoveries are exciting. Among the ground-breaking nano-cancer researchers speaking at CancerNano 2007 are:

  • Dr. James Heath, (National Cancer Institute and Caltech) is working on devices that can take small blood samples and characterize the individual biological profile and come up with ways to isolate biomarkers and see if you have a disease &endash; or could get it. The work is based on the Human Genome Project.
  • Dr. Sam Gambhir, (Director of Stanford University’s Nuclear Medicine Molecular Imaging Program) is working with novel nanoprobes and in vivo sensors to image cancer early and to monitor tumors during drug therapy at resolutions much smaller than available with today’s imaging methods.
  • Vladimir Torchilin, (Northeastern University) one of the leading researchers in using liposomes and micelles to target drug delivery to tumors, is working on ways to deliver payloads of up to 4 different time-released drugs to ensure the right timing, the right dose, and the right location.

“These types of work could literally change how we diagnose and treat cancer,” Amiji said. “With nano-formulations, we can reduce or avoid side-effects and enhance availability at the disease target so that we can deliver optimum doses directly to the tumor rather than throughout the body,” Amiji said. “And, we can see how we can design new therapies that can include nano-doses of multiple drugs, or even design personalized therapies based on a patient’s specific cancer disease or genetic profile.”

Breaking Down the Silos

At CancerNano, Amiji’s goal is to bring leading nano-researchers and medical professionals together to breakdown the logjams blocking nano-based discoveries from entering today’s patient treatments. “There are many obstacles: regulatory, financial and even business models,” Amiji said. “Most of these obstacles arise, I believe, because our industry is divided into silos.”

Amiji notes 3 main silos:

  • Small Biotech &mndash; While smaller biotech and pharma companies may be more willing to explore nano-based technologies to fight cancer, they often don’t have the resources (funds or expertise) to commercialize their work.
  • Big Pharma &endash; While bigger firms have the funds and the expertise smaller firms need, these company executives are often pressured by shareholders and government regulators, and may be reluctant to take bets on multi-year research without assurances that the government regulators would view that work favorably.
  • Regulators &mndash; For their part regulators such as the FDA can be very restrictive about what types of nano-therapies they approve, he added. Often even nano-doses of drugs that are already approved will be required to be tested and reviewed again, Amiji said.

“With CancerNano 2007, we hope to break down these silos by bringing together the members of each community, and show them just how exciting the future of nano-based therapies can be,” Dr. Amiji added.

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