Glowing Cornell dots -- a potential cancer diagnostic tool set for human trials

June 13, 2011

NEW YORK - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first clinical trial in humans of a new technology: Cornell Dots, brightly glowing nanoparticles that can light up cancer cells in PET-optical imaging.

A paper describing this new medical technology, "Multimodal silica nanoparticles are effective cancer-targeted probes in a model of human melanoma," will be published June 13, 2011 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation (July 2011). This is a collaboration between Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), Cornell University, and Hybrid Silica Technologies, a Cornell business start-up.

For the first time, scientists report a uniquely advanced and comprehensive characterization of Cornell Dots - an ultra small, cancer-targeted, multimodal silica nanoparticle - which has recently been approved as an "investigational new drug" (IND) by the FDA for a first-in-human clinical trial, says Michelle S. Bradbury, M.D., of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and an assistant professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Cornell Dots are silica spheres less than 8 nanometers in diameter that enclose several dye molecules. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter, about the length of three atoms in a row.) The silica shell, essentially glass, is chemically inert and small enough to pass through the body and out in the urine. For clinical applications, the dots are coated with polyethylene glycol (PEG) so the body will not recognize them as foreign substances.

A guiding light within the body: To make the dots stick to tumor cells, organic molecules that bind to tumor surfaces or even specific locations within tumors can be attached to the PEG shell. When exposed to near-infrared light, the dots fluoresce much brighter than dye to serve as a beacon to identify the target cells. The technology, the researchers say, enables visualization during surgical treatment, showing invasive or metastatic spread to lymph nodes and distant organs, and can show the extent of treatment response.

Hooisweng Ow, a coauthor of the paper and once a graduate student working with Ulrich Wiesner, Cornell Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, developed first-generation Cornell dots in 2005. Together, Wiesner, Ow and Kenneth Wang, have co-founded the company Hybrid Silica Technologies (HST) to commercialize the invention. The combined team of MSKCC, Cornell and HST researchers is now in the process of forming a new commercial entity in New York City that will help transition the research into commercial products that will benefit cancer patient care.

"This is the first FDA IND approved inorganic particle platform of its class and properties that can be used for multiple clinical indications, two of which are explored: cancer targeting for diagnostics and future therapeutic diagnostics, as well as cancer disease staging and tumor burden assessment via lymph node mapping," says Bradbury.

The Cornell Dots were optimized for efficient renal clearance, allowing the body to pass them through the kidneys.

In addition, the scientists were able to perform real-time imaging of lymphatic drainage patterns and particle clearance rates, as well as sensitively detect nodal metastases. Nodal mapping is now being pursued under a new award of a BioAccelerate NYC Prize from the Partnership for New York City and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, which is expected to lead to another clinical trial in humans.

The lead authors of the paper are Miriam Benezra and Oula Penate-Medina, who are researchers at MSKCC. Bradbury and Wiesner are the senior authors.
-end-
Cornell Media Contact:
Blaine Friedlander
bpf2@cornell.edu
(607) 254-8093

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Media Contact:
Christine Hickey
hickey1@MSKCC.ORG
(212) 639-3573

Cornell University

Related Cancer Articles from Brightsurf:

New blood cancer treatment works by selectively interfering with cancer cell signalling
University of Alberta scientists have identified the mechanism of action behind a new type of precision cancer drug for blood cancers that is set for human trials, according to research published in Nature Communications.

UCI researchers uncover cancer cell vulnerabilities; may lead to better cancer therapies
A new University of California, Irvine-led study reveals a protein responsible for genetic changes resulting in a variety of cancers, may also be the key to more effective, targeted cancer therapy.

Breast cancer treatment costs highest among young women with metastic cancer
In a fight for their lives, young women, age 18-44, spend double the amount of older women to survive metastatic breast cancer, according to a large statewide study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Cancer mortality continues steady decline, driven by progress against lung cancer
The cancer death rate declined by 29% from 1991 to 2017, including a 2.2% drop from 2016 to 2017, the largest single-year drop in cancer mortality ever reported.

Stress in cervical cancer patients associated with higher risk of cancer-specific mortality
Psychological stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer-specific mortality in women diagnosed with cervical cancer.

Cancer-sniffing dogs 97% accurate in identifying lung cancer, according to study in JAOA
The next step will be to further fractionate the samples based on chemical and physical properties, presenting them back to the dogs until the specific biomarkers for each cancer are identified.

Moffitt Cancer Center researchers identify one way T cell function may fail in cancer
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers have discovered a mechanism by which one type of immune cell, CD8+ T cells, can become dysfunctional, impeding its ability to seek and kill cancer cells.

More cancer survivors, fewer cancer specialists point to challenge in meeting care needs
An aging population, a growing number of cancer survivors, and a projected shortage of cancer care providers will result in a challenge in delivering the care for cancer survivors in the United States if systemic changes are not made.

New cancer vaccine platform a potential tool for efficacious targeted cancer therapy
Researchers at the University of Helsinki have discovered a solution in the form of a cancer vaccine platform for improving the efficacy of oncolytic viruses used in cancer treatment.

American Cancer Society outlines blueprint for cancer control in the 21st century
The American Cancer Society is outlining its vision for cancer control in the decades ahead in a series of articles that forms the basis of a national cancer control plan.

Read More: Cancer News and Cancer Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.