Memorial Sloan Kettering

October 2018 Newsletter

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Tiny Cancer Fighters In Dr. Daniel Heller's lab at the Sloan Kettering Institute, a diverse group of nanotechnologists is studying how to deliver cancer drugs to the right place in the body. For a cancer drug to succeed, it has to do more than just wipe out cancer cells. The real challenge is to avoid collateral damage to normal tissues. In 2016, Dr. Heller and his team built tiny particles filled with cancer drugs—or nanomedicines— to target the blood vessels that feed tumors, bringing the fight right to the source. "There is a lot of potential in nanotechnology," he says. "If the particles can bring a drug to the site of a metastatic disease, people won't feel as many side effects, and it could be a more effective therapy." Dr. Heller's nanoparticles are made out of a very abundant and cheap substance called fucoidan, extracted from a brown ocean algae. Fucoidan has a natural Velcro-like stickiness for molecules that contain P-selectin, which is common in blood vessels that nourish metastatic tumors. His team is designing nanoparticles filled with anti-cancer drugs to target metastases, which cause 90 percent of cancer deaths. In addition to improving drug targeting, Dr. Heller's lab is also exploring implantable sensors that could detect cancer biomarkers at the moment they appear—working like a Fitbit for cancer detection. "This may sound like science fiction now," he says, "but we're working to make it reality." Advance MSK Research Please notify our Planned Giving office at 800-688-1827 if you have made a gift to MSK. By doing so, you provide our investigators with confidence that their research will continue well into the future. Reflecting on the Future Fall 2018 Inside: A Family Tradition of Giving | Time Your Impact | Your Stocks Can Save a Life Daniel Heller, PhD, with his models of nanoparticles. To scale, these tiny objects would have diameters one-thousandth that of a human hair. Considered the tiniest cancer fighters, nanoparticles help guide drugs to tumor cells to avoid many of the toxic effects of cancer drugs.

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