Cancer Nanotechnology

Project Pics


This project focuses on the development of molecular imaging technologies for the screening, diagnosis, and therapy of cancer. Recent advances in nanotechnologies have produced a class of optically active metal particles with highly desirable molecular and optical properties suitable for combining both detection and treatment.

We are designing nanoparticles that are injected into the bloodstream where they seek out and attach themselves to cancer cells within the body. Once they have attached themselves to the cancer, they can be used to image and/or treat the cancer. Using weak levels of light, the particles act as imaging agents and can be used to locate the cancer. If treatment is desired, higher light levels can be used to destroy the cancer in a highly selective manner. Our hope is that we can treat cancer at the individual cell level, killing cancer cells while leaving immediately adjacent normal cells unharmed. Our goal is to detect and treat cancer at its earliest stage when survival rates are highest.

This five year project represents a collaboration with researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center, UT Austin, and University of California at Irvine.


Sunil Krishnan, MD, Radiation Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center

Brian Korgel, PhD, Chemical Engineering, UT Austin

Pengyu Ren, PhD, UT Austin

Anthony Durkin, PhD, Beckman Laser Institute, University of California, Irvine

David Cuccia, PhD, Modulated Imaging, Irvine, CA


National Institutes of Health/NCI: R01 CA132032, “Metal nanoparticle mediated imaging, targeting, and treatment of cancer” PI: James W. Tunnell