Johns Hopkins Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Established

The Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology  in Baltimore recently received a 5 year $13.6 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to establish the Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. The center, under the co-direction of  Professors Peter Searson and  Martin Pomper,  will initially focus on four research projects:

1) the application of quantum dots and silica super paramagnetic particles to screen bodily fluids for the presence of cancer indicators

2) testing for the possible us if nanocurcumin in the treatment of tumors that have developed in abdominal organs. Curcumin is derived from the spice turmeric. In it's larger form, curcumin has been shown to be effective when used as part of chemotherapy, but is difficult for the bloodstream to absorb, while nanocurcumin is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream

3) Development of a non-invasive method of monitoring the effectiveness of vaccines

4) Development of methods using mucus penetrating nanoparticles to deliver chemotherapy treatments directly to small cell lung cancer tissues.

Other projects will be added over the course of the five year period.

As part of an effort to bring products that emerge from these research areas to market, the Center will also have a Cancer Nanomedicine Commercialization Working Group, headed by John Fini, Johns Hopkins University's Director of Intellectual Property.

Back to School: Nano-style

With fall, and college football (sorry, couldn't resist), firmly upon us, it seemed appropriate to tell you about two developments at the collegiate level regarding nanotechnology regulation.  The developments are on opposite sides of the country, further showing the widespread interest in nanotechnology.

First, Johns Hopkins University recently announced that students will be able to minor in "nanotechnology risk assessment and public policy."  Faculty from the engineering and public health programs received a grant to offer the curriculum.

"The new minor will involve courses on topics such as risk science and public policy, ethics and law, environmental engineering, public health and toxicology. Faculty members who will develop or teach the courses are affiliated with the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, Whiting School of Engineering, Bloomberg School of Public Health and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, as well as the Risk Sciences and Public Policy Institute, Berman Institute of Bioethics and Center for Law and the Public's Health."

Second, in Tempe, Arizona, three professors at the University of Arizona's Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law received a $314,000 grant from the US Department of Energy to "develop models for the international regulation of nanotechnology."  The grant will cover approximately 3 years worth of work, and will be used to:

  • "create and maintain a public online database of proposed and enacted regulatory requirements and programs specific to nanotechnology at the international, national and local levels.
  • analyze proposed and enacted national and local regulations for nanotechnology, including the consistencies and inconsistencies of requirements in different jurisdictions.
  • prepare case studies of nine transnational models for the oversight of various technologies, with analysis of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • propose and evaluate potential frameworks for the transnational regulation of nanotechnology and coordination of national regulatory strategies."

These two schools are essentially turning out the first generation of nanotechnology regulators.  While those of us in the system now are learning as we go, students in both programs will be taught nanotech regulatory issues from the beginning of their careers.  What's also interesting is that these programs are addressing the regulatory issues from different perspectives, which should lead to differing views and debates on laws and regulation. Perhaps even a cross-university conference is in the making here?