Theranostics is a new term to describe the combining of therapy and diagnosis and nanotechnology / nanomedicine uses devices or particles on a nanometre scale: a nanometre (nm) is one-billionth of a metre. Particles with size of less than 100 nm are considered nanoparticles. It has been just over two decades since the first nanoparticle-based therapy was FDA approved for the treatment of cancer. Since then, it has been shown that they offer great benefits for anti-cancer drug delivery to overcome limitations in conventional chemotherapy. They can also be tailored to simultaneously carry both drugs and imaging probes and designed to specifically target molecules found in cancer tissues.

  1. Radionuclide therapy and multimodal imaging to improve the therapy and diagnosis of lymphatic metastases

Dr Yaser Gholami, A/Prof. Viive Howell.
In collaboration with:
Sydney Investigators:

  • Prof Zdenka Kuncic, PhD, FAIP, University of Sydney
  • Prof Alexander Engel, MD, PhD, Kolling Institute of Medical Research and University of Sydney
  • Prof Dale Bailey, PhD, Royal North Shore Hospital and University of Sydney

Harvard/Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Investigators:

  • Prof Georges El Fakhri, PhD, Director of Gordon Center for Medical Imaging and MGH PET Core
  • Prof Lee Josephson, PhD, Harvard Medical School
  • A/Prof Marc Normandin, PhD, Harvard Medical School
  • Dr Moses Wilks, PhD, Assistant in Physics, MGH

In collaboration with Harvard Medical School/ Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), our aim is to develop a theranostic nano-platform to enable radionuclide therapy and multimodal imaging to improve the therapy and diagnosis of lymphatic metastases. Theranostic radiolabelled nanoparticles is a new emerging field of nanomedicine and nuclear medicine which utilises physics, nuclear-chemistry, radiobiology and computational modelling for enhancing cancer therapy and diagnosis.
2. The application of nanoparticles for ovarian cancer theranostics
Dr Emily Colvin, A/Prof Viive Howell in collaboration with A/Prof Brian Hawkett (Key Centre For Polymer Colloids, Dept of Chemistry, University of Sydney) and Dr Steve Jones.
In this study we investigated the safety and biodistribution (where the treatment goes to in the body) of novel iron oxide nanoparticles in preclinical models of ovarian cancer. These nanoparticles were found to be safe, non-toxic and have an affinity for ovarian tumours and the omentum (the most common organ that ovarian cancer spreads to). Given this desirable distribution profile, we are aiming to further investigate whether these nanoparticles can be used as an imaging tool to aid in earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer as well as a drug delivery tool to aid in targeted delivery of chemotherapy to the tumour.
3. Exploring a novel nanotechnology strategy for the neo-adjuvant treatment of colorectal cancer by photodynamic therapy and ionising radiation.
Dr Wei Deng, A/Prof Viive Howell, A/Prof Ewa Goldys, Prof Alexander Engel
By combining two clinically accepts therapies, photodynamic therapy and ionising radiation we plan to develop a novel treatment strategy for colorectal cancer. This project will produce gold-labelled nanoparticles for enhance photodynamic therapy in deep tissue in a xenograft in vivo model. Once approved for human therapy this may reduce the radiation-induced mortality and/or increase treatment efficacy.
Funding: Ramsay Research and Teaching Award

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