Andrew MacKay's Imaging Tool for Cancer Therapy Moves to Next Phase

McKay CancerAssistant Professor Andrew MacKay has received a new $85,000 grant from the USC Ming Hsieh Institute for Engineering Medicine for Cancer to continue work on the project, “Diagnostic Imaging of Smart Genetically Engineered Nanomedicines.”

MacKay and his team have developed protein-based nanoparticles for delivery of cancer drugs to tumors, that also have the ability to image the location and distribution of their particle by Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanning.

Having already shown the effectiveness of these nanoparticles for imaging and drug delivery, MacKay is poised to take his studies in vivo and examine their efficiency in targeting and therapeutic efficacy. This next phase of funding will support testing using this targeted nanotherapy.

The grant builds on a previous $75,000 Ming Hsieh grant MacKay received in 2011, which funded the pilot study.

“Drug carriers that target tumors, while preventing off-target exposure, can significantly reduce the side effects of chemotherapy drugs,” MacKay said of the importance of his initial research. “What has been lacking are simple approaches to visualize the targeting of the tumor. Such an approach might help to optimize the choice of targeted therapy, prior to the administration of potentially harmful drugs.”

MacKay hopes that his work will eventually lead to breakthroughs in the treatment of all solid tumor-based cancers. Work completed through this funding aims to lead to a proposal for external support.

In addition to Ming Hsieh Institute, MacKay’s work is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the Stop Cancer Research Career Development Award and the Department of Defense.