By Anthony Kim
More than 680,000 people in the United States live with a brain tumor. Of those, 20 percent are malignant tumors and patients have a five-year survival rate of 34 percent. With May being Brain Tumor Awareness month, there is no better time to consider how researchers and clinicians can work together to improve the odds for this afflicted group of people.
My goal as a researcher is to work collaboratively with a team of scientists and clinicians to address the knowledge gap that exists between basic discoveries in nanoparticle therapeutics and clinical translation aimed at effectively targeting invasive brain cancer. Specifically, our team is seeking to develop targeted therapeutics to treat the residual brain cancer cells that are not effectively removed or controlled with standard surgical, radiation, and chemo-therapies.
Currently, disappointing clinical trial outcomes from successful preclinical nanotherapeutic systems have become commonplace. The studies we propose mark an important next step in identifying rate-limiting barriers affecting targeted nanoparticle delivery to the brain and the potential for clinical translation. We envision that this approach could result in new, more efficient processes for the development of effective nanoparticle-based therapeutics across a broad range of other invasive cancers including non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Our collaborative approach represents a combination of the most promising results and preliminary data from my work at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), in collaboration with Graeme Woodworth, M.D. (neurosurgeon scientist), as well as the work out of Jeff Winkles, Ph.D. (cancer biologist) laboratory, related to developing treatments targeted to tumor cells that have invaded the brain. My long-term goal is to leverage our early collaborative success to bring together interdisciplinary investigators with complementary expertise across the mid-Atlantic region, including JHU; the University of Maryland, School of Medicine; University of Maryland, School of Pharmacy; National Institutes of Health; the University of Maryland-College Park, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, as well as our industry partners.
I am extremely grateful that I was selected as the recipient of the 2015 AAPS Foundation New Investigator Grant. This funding from the AAPS Foundation is important to my research for two major reasons. First, this award shows that the AAPS Foundation recognizes the value of our vision of a team-based interdisciplinary approach. Our interdisciplinary team of scientists and clinicians was formed to spur innovation at the interface of engineering, pharmaceutical sciences, and medicine in order to harness the power of traditional nanotechnology principles to solve unmet clinical needs. Second, this recognition confirms my strong belief in the central role of fundamental sciences in solving clinically-relevant challenges to improve patient care and outcomes.
I look forward to meeting my fellow AAPS members at the AAPS Foundation’s Mix & Mingle to support the AAPS Foundation and discuss our shared research interests. Please join me on Sunday, May 5 from 5:30 pm–7:30 pm during the National Biotechnology Conference for this event.