$1.2 million grant for Nano-tech

By Nikki Markow

With a $1.2 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, Dr. Ahmed Busnaina and a team of Northeastern researchers and professors are beginning a project to design an implantable sensor with the ability to detect different types of cancer.

The nanobiosensor is designed to determine how a tumor responds to drug therapies, according to a university press release from Jan. 29. It is now intended for animal testing, but could eventually be considered for human trials. The two-year grant will support development of the nanochip’s major design features and testing of the new design for biomarker monitoring and controlling drug release, according to the release.

Researchers for the project come from three different schools within the university to bring different areas of expertise – nanotechnology, biochemistry and pharmaceuticals – to the development.

“This research was inspired by recent advances in the selective directed assembly of nanoparticles as the NSF High-rate Nanomanufacturing Center,” said Busnaina, W. L. Smith professor of engineering and director of the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing (NSF), in a university press release.

“We believe that at the end of two years, the basic foundation will have been laid for rapid expansion into practical devices with broad and significant applications,” he said.

The Foundation, which is based in Los Angeles, supports new discoveries in science, engineering and medical research and funds many breakthrough research projects.

“The Keck Foundation is known for funding some of the most innovative research being done today, and this project is no exception,” said Vladimir Torchilin, professor and chair of the department of pharmaceutical biotech and nanomedicine, in the release.

Joining project leader Busnaina are Torchilin; Barry Karger, professor and director of the chemistry department; and James Waters, chair in analytical chemistry and director of the Barnett Institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis.

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