Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
for Translational Diagnostics (CCNE-TD)

Overall CCNE-TD Vision

The Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence for Translational Diagnostics (CCNE-TD), which forms the third cycle CCNE Program at Stanford University, is a consortium that has three highly synchronized Projects and three Cores. Since its initial funding in May 2006, our CCNE program has matured substantially into a strong multidisciplinary program with expertise and infrastructure to support the growing field of cancer nanomedicine. Dr.  Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD (PI/PD) is the Chairman of the Department of Radiology at Stanford and is an expert in Molecular Imaging, Radiology and Bioengineering. Dr. Shan X. Wang, PhD (co-PI) is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering as well as Electrical engineering at Stanford. He has spent the major portion of his career focused on magneto nanobio-sensing. Dr. Demir Akin, DVM, PhD (Deputy Director), is an interdisciplinary scientist and a well-known Nanomedicine expert has been the Deputy Director of the Stanford CCNE Program and he continues with this responsibility in the CCNE-TD Program. Together, Drs. Gambhir, Wang and Akin provide an enormous breadth of experience ranging from fundamental nanoscience and engineering, to pre-clinical imaging, and on to translation to clinical applications of molecular imaging and cancer nanodiagnostics. The Center is composed of a highly interdisciplinary team of scientists whose expertise areas are highly synergistic and have a long collaboration history that extends to the first cycle of the NCI’s CCNE Program.  Defining it broadly, the CCNE-TD will develop and clinically translate cancer diagnostics and imaging technologies. More specifically, it has two scientific thematic focus areas: i) predicting and monitoring cancer therapy response in lung cancer and ii) merging of nano-based in vitro and in vivo diagnostics strategies as well as nano-based imaging for earlier cancer detection and prognostication for  prostate cancer. Our Projects (P) and Cores (C) are as follows: P1 (Lead: Jianghong Rao, PhD) focuses on the development of novel cancer triggered self-assembling and disassembling nanoparticles for photoacoustic and PET-MRI visualization of tumors, P2 (Lead: Shan X. Wang, PhD) focuses on the use of magneto-nanotechnology for blood proteomics, single cell sorting and comprehensive analyses. P3 (Lead: Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD) focuses on molecular imaging of prostate cancer with photoacoustics smart nanoparticles that will be made by Project 1, and monitoring response to anti-lung cancer therapy using imaging and magneto-nanosensors. C1 (Lead: Demir Akin, DVM, PhD) is the Administration Core and facilitate progress towards our milestones, C2 (Lead: Robert Sinclair, PhD) provides resources for nano characterization and nano fabrication, C3 (Lead: Alice Fan, MD) facilitates clinical translation by linking our nanotechnologies to existing patient samples and ongoing as well as new clinical trials. 

Overall vision of the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence for Translational Diagnostics (CCNE-TD).    

The CCNE-TD investigators will utilize nanotechnology to measure changes in cancer patterns via 1) imaging though cancer-triggered-self-assembling as well as dis-assembling nanoparticles (P1 and P3) and 2) in the serum using magneto-nano sensors (P2). Our nanotechnologies will be used to interrogate single cells for DNA, RNA, proteins, cellular micro/nano vesicles, to evaluate biomarker potentials of those (P2, P3), and will again utilize nanotechnology (e.g., self-assembling nanoparticles and nanobubbles) to image cell associated proteins in small animal models, as well as humans, and clinically translate them for human prostate cancer imaging with ultrasound/photoacoustics (P3). In all of these cases, changes at the molecular level are being measured within the cell, on the cell membrane, and in the extracellular matrix. We believe that measuring these changes is critical to the problem of earlier cancer detection and monitoring response to therapies with both the ex vivo diagnostic nanosensor technologies and the in vivo imaging technologies. The Center has two major technological arms: i) in vitro genomic/proteomic/cellomic nanosensors, and ii) in vivo molecular imaging with primarily gold as well as nanobubble-based nanoparticles, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with novel self-assembling and disassembling nanoparticles. The latter arm is directly focused on molecular imaging with specific cellular protein targets. These targets are the basis whereby specific molecular imaging signal is provided. It is the goal of the CCNE-TD to help identify these targets for specific cancers (lung and prostate) and their biochemical pathways and to utilize these targets as ways to home in on cancer cells. In addition, our new class of nanoparticles that can self-assemble intracellularly, from the cell permeable precursors, in a cancer specific manner, in conjunction with our advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) expertise, is expected to directly impact the development of medical imaging modalities for eventual clinical translation.  We have set aside funds for developing Pilot Projects to extend the capabilities of the proposed Center and introduce new capabilities as we progress in the five year performance period. We have also raised substantial funds internally at Stanford to run additional seed/developmental projects. These internally sponsored projects with focus on clinical translation will be at no-cost to the NIH-NCI.  With our highly interactive and cohesive program focused on developing and validating nanotechnology for anti-cancer therapy response, earlier cancer detection and prognostication, we will imagine, invent, and innovate for the benefit of cancer patients.