Nanomedicine for Cancer

CNSI scientists are developing new techniques that utilize nanotechnology to develop fundamental insight into the mechanisms underlying oncogenesis, malignant transformation and metastasis

CNSI scientists are developing new techniques that utilize nanotechnology to develop fundamental insight into the mechanisms underlying oncogenesis, malignant transformation and metastasis, new platforms for early-stage detection as well as systems for targeted delivery of therapeutic drugs tuned to specifically target cancer sites in the body.

The Silicasome

The development and preclinical testing of a smart nanocarrier developed by Andre Nel and his colleagues, the “silicasome”, which is capable of delivering optimal amounts of chemotherapeutic agents directly to pancreatic tumors with decreased side effects and increased efficacy.  The approach is remarkably powerful and has attracted significant attention in the field as well as the interest of investors. This has led to the recent launch of our newest startup company, Westwood Biosciences Inc., which is focused on bringing silicasome technology to the clinic as rapidly as possible, and on expanding its applications to numerous other types of cancer.

AFFILIATED FACULTY:     Huan Meng     Andre Nel     Jeffrey Zink


Human vaults are intracellular ribonucleoprotein particle complexes which consists of a major vault protein (MVP), the outer shell, which houses two minor vault proteins (VPARP and TEP1), and several small untranslated RNA molecules. Naturally occurring human vault particles are ubiquitous and present in every human cell and are the most abundant cytoplasmic protein particle in human cells, 10,000 plus particles per human cell. They are highly stable inside the cytoplasm and no function is known inside the cell. Vaults are highly conserved evolutionarily and almost ubiquitously expressed in eukaryotes. Vaults form a large nanocapsule with a barrel-shaped morphology surrounding a large hollow interior. Evidence suggest that they are an early alert signal to the immune system once a cell is lysed and vaults are released into the intracellular space where they are rapidly engulfed by APCs.


Mechanics of Cancer

Metastasis is responsible for 90% of cancer-related deaths, representing over 500,000 deaths per year in the United States alone. Elucidating the mechanisms of malignant transformation and metastasis are vital to the early stage detection and effective therapeutic intervention. Led by members like Dino DiCarlo, research teams at CNSI are using microfabricated in-vitro systems that can replicate particular aspects of the tumor environment quantitatively and allow observation of the process of intravasation working to better understand the process and develop therapies targeted at the initial stages leading to metastases.

AFFILIATED FACULTY:     Dino Di Carlo     James Gimzewski


Research News – Nanomedicine for Cancer