Leicester University wins £320,000 grant to study magnetic
nanoparticles for treatment of prostate cancer
24 April 2009
Magnetic nanoparticle technology developed at the University of
Leicester will be used to develop a powerful new technique for the early
diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
Dr Wu Su, of the Department of Chemistry, has been awarded a grant
worth £321,000 by the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research
Council (EPSRC). This is one of only ten Postdoctoral Research
Fellowships in the Life Sciences Interface area given by the Council
this year and is the first EPSRC postdoctoral research fellowship
awarded to the University of Leicester.
The award will allow a multidisciplinary research team to design
high-performance magnetic nanoparticles. The team consists of
researchers from the University of Leicester departments of Chemistry,
Physics, Cancer Studies and Molecular Medicine and Cardiovascular
High-performance magnetic nanoparticles act as probes that show up in
magnetic resonance imaging and kill tumour cells by hyperthermia at a
much earlier stage than conventional methods.
The pioneering technology, developed at the University of Leicester,
is focused on the development of a new type of magnetic nanoparticle in
which the magnetic performance is increase by a factor of ten.
Targeting these magnetic nanoparticles to unique cell surface
receptors present on the prostate tumour cell surface will enable
efficient and specific delivery to prostate cancer cells. The approach
is general and it is envisaged that these systems could be applied to
other types of aggressive cancers (such as liver, breast, colon) in
which early diagnosis and treatment is essential for recovery.
Dr Su said this technology requires a multidisciplinary approach:
“Prostate cancer cure rates are predicated on early diagnosis and
treatment. The technology that we are developing offers the potential of
both the identification and treatment of prostate cancer in a highly
Successful implementation of this technology would provide
significant welfare benefits for patients — reducing the need for
surgical removal of the prostate — and significant cost benefits for
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