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Modeling and Control of Magnetic Chemotherapy

Faculty 

Funding Agency 

National Science Foundation

Description 

The three-year, $301K NSF Collaborative Research grant aims to improve the delivery of chemotherapy drugs to target tumors. With existing chemotherapy, it is estimated that less than 0.1 percent of administered drugs are taken up by the tumor, while the remaining 99.9 percent go to healthy tissue, where they can cause severe and life-threatening side-effects. In magnetic drug targeting, chemotherapy can be attached to biocompatible magnetic particles. This allows magnetic control of the drugs: magnets placed outside the patient can potentially be used to focus the therapy to tumors.

Doing so is difficult. The human body is complex and it is not yet understood how to actuate the magnets (when to turn them on and off) to best direct the drugs to the tumors. The goal of this project is to develop sophisticated and experimentally-validated tools to better understand how magnetized chemotherapy moves through the body, and based on these to develop methods to optimally actuate the magnets to better direct the chemotherapy to tumors.

The broader impact will be a suite of techniques to improve magnetic drug targeting - potentially moving it from a method that could only focus drugs to single shallow tumors, to one that could access deep tumors as well as small and poorly vascularized metastatic tumors spread throughout the body.