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NDSU researchers to use $1.2 million grant to study ways to combat prostate cancer

Two NDSU researchers have received one of the National Institutes of Health’s most competitive grants to study a new way of combating prostate cancer.
 
Sanku Mallik and Bin Guo in NDSU’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences are receiving a five-year, $1.2 million Research Project Grant, known as an R01 grant, from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health.
 
They will use the funding to study ways of using tiny polymer spheres to deliver anticancer drugs to prostate cancers. 
 
"The exceptional work of Drs. Mallik and Guo will clearly make a difference. This is the type of research that leads to saving lives," said NDSU President Dean L. Bresciani. "They are an outstanding example of the excellence of the NDSU faculty, and why our institution is acknowledged as a student-focused, land-grant, research university that serves our citizens.”
 
The tiny spheres, known as nanocarriers, will contain conventional anticancer drugs and air bubbles. The air bubbles provide a means of tracking the nanocarriers through the blood stream via high-frequency ultrasound imaging. Researchers can determine when the spheres reach the tumor. Once there, the biochemical imbalances in the tumor tissues along with the ultrasound technology will “explode” the nanocarriers to release the drugs, Mallik said.
 
“The polymers already are unstable in the low-oxygen environment of solid prostate cancer tumors,” Mallik said. “We’re looking at whether we can increase the rate at which the nanocarriers release the drugs to get all of the cancer cells.”
 
Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer among men, according to the American Cancer Society. About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
 
It is initially treated with hormone therapy called androgen deprivation therapy. However, additional treatment is needed if the cancer grows and spreads throughout the body. 
 
“We hope that the new drug delivery system will help improve the efficacy of traditional chemotherapy by selectively targeting the drugs to the cancer cells,” Guo said.
 
NDSU researchers regularly compete for prestigious federal grants. In July, Guo received a $1.35 million grant to target colorectal cancer. 
 
“This is the third National Institutes of Health R01 grant recently awarded to the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, which demonstrates the high quality of faculty and research being conducted by the department,” said NDSU College of Health Professions Dean Charles Peterson. “It is nice to know that NDSU researchers are competing at the highest level with the top scientists in the country for highly competitive federal grants which focus on improving human health.”
 
Kausik Sarkar, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at George Washington University, is the third principal investigator on the project.
 
The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health Award Number 1R01GM114080. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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