Researchers at Northeastern’s Elec­tronic Mate­rials Research Insti­tute (eMRI) are col­lab­o­rating with two Har­vard Med­ical School researchers to develop a nanotechnology-​​based “smart implant” to treat cancer.

The device could improve the effi­ciency of radi­a­tion and drug-​​based treat­ments for lung, pan­cre­atic and prostate cancers.

Pro­fessor and physics depart­ment chair Srinivas Sridhar, director of the eMRI, is leading a team of North­eastern research sci­en­tists and grad­uate and under­grad­uate stu­dents in the effort to develop the smart implants. They are part­nering with Michael Mak­ri­gioros, of Brigham & Women’s Hos­pital and Robert Cor­mack of Dana-​​Farber Cancer Insti­tute. Both orga­ni­za­tions are Har­vard Med­ical School affiliates.

North­eastern co-​​op stu­dents will also have the oppor­tu­nity to work in the med­ical physics and bio­physics group at Har­vard Med­ical School.

This col­lab­o­ra­tion allows us to bring our nanotechnology-​​based cancer treat­ment appli­ca­tions to the next level,” said Sridhar. “It is through this type of trans­la­tional research that real advances in med­i­cine are made.”

A sig­nif­i­cant number of cur­rent cancer treat­ment pro­to­cols include radi­a­tion therapy. Radi­a­tion therapy requires that markers be inserted into the body to mark the loca­tion of the tumor so that the radi­a­tion can be accu­rately targeted.

eMRI researchers have devel­oped a nanoscale, porous coating con­taining anti-​​cancer drugs, designed to envelop the tumor marker. Once the “smart” marker is implanted, it would release the drugs into the tumor in a reg­u­lated dosage over a period of time.

In addi­tion, the cancer drugs and other bio­log­ical mol­e­cules included in the nanoporous coating would act as radio sen­si­tizers to improve the tar­geting of radi­a­tion treatments.

We are seeking to uti­lize the tech­nology devel­oped at North­eastern to create smarter nanotechnology-​​based devices to treat cancer in a more tar­geted and timely manner,” said Mak­ri­giorgos. “This tech­nique, which will not be any more incon­ve­nient for patients, could help increase the suc­cess rates of these and other cancer treat­ments in the future.”

Mak­ri­giorgos and Cor­mack are chief and deputy chief, respec­tively, of med­ical physics and bio­physics in the depart­ment of radi­a­tion oncology at Har­vard Med­ical School.

The North­eastern team includes research sci­en­tists Dat­tatri Nagesha and Dayane Tada, grad­uate stu­dents Evin Gul­tepe and Frank Reynoso, and under­grad­uate stu­dents Evan Jost and Craig Levy, all from the physics department.

For more infor­ma­tion about research being con­ducted at eMRI, please visit http://​www​.emri​.neu​.edu/. Addi­tional infor­ma­tion about physics research at North­eastern can be found at http://​sagar​.physics​.neu​.eduand http://​www​.igert​.neu​.edu.