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NDSU Professor Working on Non-Toxic Cancer Treatment

Picture of Sanku Mallik in his office
  • Who: Sanku Mallik Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, North Dakota State University.

  • What: Using nanotechnology to develop a cheaper, less toxic way to detect and treat cancer.
  • The rationale: Metastatic cancer cells produce and secrete a higher level of certain enzymes than normal cells and Mallik thinks those enzymes are the key to detecting and killing cancer cells.  He created microscopic, lipid-based nanoparticles that react to two of those enzymes. 
  • The way it works: Instead of using metal-based materials to send the drugs to the tumor, Mallik is experimenting with nontoxic materials. The idea is that lipid-based particles can be loaded with cancer killing drugs and the particles can “sense” how much of the cancer enzyme is there, and depending on how much it detects, it will release anti-cancer drugs.
  • It takes time: His research is promising, but still several years away from any human tests. Mallik has a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute and is hoping for a second grant this year to expand the research.

  • Sooner rather than later: 
"The first practical application of the research might be a quick, cheap, diagnostic test for cancer that could be used in a doctor's office,” said Mallik. “We hope to be ready for initial testing in clinical settings in five years."

 You can reach Sanku Mallik at

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Last Updated: Monday, January 26, 2015 11:13:11 AM
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