Scott McNeil, director of the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research
The protein tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) is a powerful weapon in the arsenal to control cancer. Unfortunately, as is the case with many potent cancer therapies, the use of TNF-alpha as an anti-cancer therapy has been severely limited. “It was so toxic that it caused death,” and researchers gave up on it, explains Scott McNeil, director of the Nanotechnology Characterization Lab at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research.
That was back in the 1990s. Today, TNF-alpha is a prime example of how to safely and effectively deliver toxic substances to cancer cells through the use of nanotechnology.
McNeil’s lab, part of the federally funded research and development center operated by SAIC-Frederick for the National Cancer Institute, worked with a drug company to reformulate TNF-alpha by coupling it with gold nanoparticles. Using the nanotechnology-enhanced protein, it appears possible to safely inject up to three times the amount that had been lethal with previous versions. The modified drug has been through a Phase 1 clinical trial and is entering Phase 2. Read more…
Anuradha Budhu, Ph.D.
Anuradha Budhu, Ph.D., heads a research team at the National Cancer Institute that recently uncovered an imbalance between saturated and unsaturated fats (such as palmitic or fatty acids) that occur in patients with a common liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma, or HCC. Budhu’s team also determined that HCC patients with high unsaturated fat levels had poor survival rates, suggesting that a shift of balance toward saturated fats may be a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of aggressive liver cancer.
Budhu, who earned her doctorate at Cornell University, is a staff scientist at NCI’s Center for Cancer Research. She has been awarded CCR’s outstanding postdoctoral award as well as the NCI Director’s Innovation Award.
The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences
recognizes “excellence in research aimed at curing intractable diseases and extending human life.” The inaugural set of prizes, awarded in February 2013 by a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, are backed by well-known personalities such as Sergey Brin, Google co-founder and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, co-founder of a personal genomics and biotech company 23andMe; Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan; Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner; and Art Levinson, chairman of Apple and Genentech. Read more…