Researchers Get $11.3 Million Grant to Study Nanotechnology in Fighting Cancer

UNC researchers will use an $11.3 million grant to explore using nanoparticles to create cancer vaccines and improve delivery of cancer-fighting drugs and patients’ responses to them.

The five-year grant announced Monday is the third in a series of awards that the University has won from the National Cancer Institute for cancer nanotechnology research. It will fund researchers with the Carolina Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, an institute-funded collaboration between the University and the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“UNC-Chapel Hill has emerged as a leader in nanotechnology in the last 10 years,” said Leaf Huang, a UNC Lineberger member, Fred Eshelman Distinguished Professor and interim chair of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy Division of Molecular Therapeutics, and the co-leader of the cancer nanotechnology center. “This grant is a testament to the quality of our research in using nanotechnology to continue to find innovative ways to fight cancer.”

The grant will fund four studies of nanotechnology in fighting cancer:

  • Creating a vaccine that would train the body’s immune system to recognize and fight drug-resistant melanoma.
  • Developing a vaccine for advanced melanoma. The concept is to use nanoparticles to deliver drugs targeting molecules in the tumor’s microenvironment that would help immune cells destroy cancerous cells.
  • Using nanotechnology and radiation therapy to improve patient responses to certain cancer drugs, specifically cancer immunotherapy checkpoint-blockade agents in melanoma.
  • Making a capsule to more effectively load and deliver cancer drugs.
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