Targeted Nanoscale System for Combined Therapy and Imaging of Cancer

Background Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. As the number of diagnosed cancer patients increases, there is growing need for improved treatment strategies and imaging techniques for accurate cancer staging and detection. Platform technologies with the ability to both enhance imaging and deliver drugs to various cancer types represents a significant advancement in cancer research and development.

The following statistics from the American Cancer Society 2008 fact list highlight the importance of improving cancer treatment strategies

- Pancreatic cancer: An estimated 37,680 new cases of pancreatic cancer in men and women combined, with an expected death rate of 34,290 people, painfully close to its incidence.

- Breast cancer: An expected 182,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women with an anticipated 40,930 breast cancer deaths this year.

- Ovarian cancer: An estimated 21,650 new cases of ovarian cancer will be detected in women, and 15,520 deaths are anticipated in women this year.

- Colon cancer: An estimated 108,070 new colon cancer cases with anticipated deaths of 49,960 for men and women combined

Additionally, improved cancer treatment and imaging strategies are vital as the U.S. population lives longer. As the "baby boomer" market ages (70% of all cancers will occur in the 65+ population), costs of treatment are rising an estimated 15% per year.

Invention Description University of Texas at Austin researchers have designed a novel platform for an intravenously injectable, targeted nanoscale system, designed to provide therapy and aid in imaging of cancer. It enables the simultaneous monitoring of drug delivery to a tumor while enhancing imaging contrast to differentiate cancerous and normal tissue.

This nanoscale system has the flexibility to carry a variety of already on-the-market FDA-approved chemotherapeutic drugs which can be targeted to myriad cancer types, including pancreatic, breast, ovarian, and colon cancer.

Once intravenously injected, the nanoscale system is designed to target specific cancer cell types. It will circulate in the bloodstream and accumulate at a tumor site, deliver chemotherapeutic treatment locally, and/or act as an imaging contrast agent highlighting the presence of the tumor against background tissues. The nanoscale systems can be visualized through many different imaging modalities including MRI, acoustic imaging, optical coherence tomography, and multiple photon spectroscopy.


Integrated system for cancer detection and treatment Enables monitoring of drug delivery to the cancerous site Contains biocompatible and biodegradable components Enhances drug uptake in cancerous tissue while limiting side effects to normal cells Enhances detection and imaging of cancer Saves time, money, effort, and patient discomfort Enables other forms of therapy such as photothermal therapies


Integrated system with targeting, active drug, biocompatible core, and contrast enhanced antimicrobial cage Generally acceptable as safe (GRAS) biocompatible core Separate or simultaneous delivery of drugs and imaging agents to target tissue Potentially a universal delivery, detection, and treatment system subject to available targeting moieties

Market Potential/Applications One of the initial market applications for this platform technology is pancreatic cancer. Other market segment applications include metastatic breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, transitional cell bladder cancer, and gastric cancer.

In monetary terms alone, for the pancreatic cancer market, the estimated total annual costs in the United States, including direct medical costs and indirect costs (costs due to lost wages, lost employment, and lost activity days) accounted for $4.9 billion lost annually. The economic impact of pancreatic cancer is of great concern.

Overall, this technology platform is positioned at the apex of a growing cancer market with the costs of cancer representing a $219.2 billion dollar market as of 2007.

Development Stage Lab/bench prototype

IP Status One U.S. patent application filed

UT Researcher Stanislav Emelianov, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Lisa Brannon-Peppas, Ph.D., BioMedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin Kimberly Homan, Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin

Type of Offer: Licensing

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