Phase 2 (2006 Deadline)
Nanomedicine for Cancer Research
Kenneth Watkin, Brian Cunningham, and Irfan Ahmad, University of Illinois
Atiya Abbasi, University of Karachi
Pakistani Funding (HEC): $137,219
US Funding: $250,000
Project Dates on US Side: February 1, 2007 - October 31, 2011
More than 70 percent of the developing world’s population still depends on complementary and alternative systems of medicine (CAM). Evidence-based CAM therapies have shown remarkable success in healing acute as well as chronic diseases. The Indo-Pakistani subcontinent is rich in such remedial sources, most of which remain untouched and unstudied. Pakistan is among the world’s leading exporters of medicinal plants, but there is a need to build partnerships that help provide the infrastructure and training to apply and use recently develop new rapid screening techniques for evidence-based evaluation of various plant extracts.
Researchers at UIUC have employed a new label-free optical biosensor system for high-throughput evaluation of natural products. This new biosensor system is being used for rapid evaluation of the breast cancer apoptotic potential of plant extracts. Preliminary research has revealed several potential extracts that kill breast cancer cells. The potential cancer treatment extract candidates will progress to clinical evaluation. In order to achieve this vision, the partners involved in this project have devised a systematic plan by concentrating on cancer research and education and integrating these aspects with existing capabilities and infrastructure at the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry at the University of Karachi. The application of this type of nanomedicine technology has enormous potential, not only for cancer treatment but also for the medicinal plant industry in Pakistan. Applications include high-throughput pharmaceutical compound screening, molecular diagnostics, PCR, electrophoresis, label-free microarrays, proteomics, environmental detection, and whole cell assays.
- Analyzed 23 plant extracts from the University of Karachi and added data to a medicinal plant database; presented research results at about ten national / international workshops and conferences
- Published a joint paper on cytotoxicity effects of two Pakistani plant extracts on breast and pancreatic cancer cells
- Offered semester - long nanomedicine courses to participants in the United States and Pakistan via video link
- Provided academic advice to more than 15 Pakistani graduate and undergraduate students
- Established linkages with eight other Pakistani academic and research institutions
During the first two quarters in 2011, the research team continued building a medicinal plant database, including 23 plant extracts provided by the University of Karachi. A CancerNano website is being developed to serve as repository for data collected during the project. Because making in-person visits has been difficult, the collaborators at the University of Karachi and University of Illinois have communicated regularly by videoconferencing, and in 2011 they published a joint paper in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine entitled “Cytotoxicity Effects of Amoora Rohituka and Chittagonga on Breast and Pancreatic Cancer Cells.”
Progress Report Summaries
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2010 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
The US members of the team presented a poster on their joint project at the Annual Nanotechnology Workshop 2010, held May 6-7 at UIUC. A link to the poster is included in the reports block above. As part of their US-Pakistan scientific exchange Nanomedicine for Cancer Research Project, the University of Illinois and the University of Karachi held a joint Nanomedicine Symposium and Workshop at the University of Karachi International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) in December 2010. Click here to read more about the nanomedicine symposium and workshop held at the University of Karachi in December 2010.
2009 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
In January 2009 Dr. Ahmad visited Dr. Abbasi and her colleagues at the University of Karachi. During the visit he presented training seminars for faculty and students and met with Dr. Abbasi and the director of her institute to discuss future work on the project. Dr. Abbas has also provided her UIUC counterparts with several samples of plant extracts for further testing. The project team aimed to organize a nanomedicine workshop in Karachi in 2010 in cooperation with Lahore University of Management Sciences and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. Dr. Abbasi's application for a visa to visit UIUC was processed, and one of her PhD students was also invited to visit for training as soon as he completes his required thesis work.
2008 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
Although Drs. Watkin and Ahmad had initially planned to present a summer course on nanomedicine in Karachi in 2008, they decided instead to make the course available online for a second year, not only to the University of Karachi but also to and other institutions the Pakistani collaborators designate. The course is possible thanks in part to leveraged support from an ongoing grant from the National Cancer Institute in support of UIUC’s Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence Project (2005-2010). In August 2008 Dr. Ahmad also presented a poster at the IBC’s 13th Annual Congress on Advanced Drug Discovery and Development of Innovative Therapeutics. He reports that the poster, which presented recent work on biosensing for cancer therapeutics that he has conducted jointly with Dr. Abbasi and colleagues from UIUC and Washington University, attracted interest from other conference participants who wish to collaborate on studies of potential uses of plant extracts for cancer treatment.
2007 Show summary || Hide summary || Download full report
In the initial phase of the project in the fall of 2007, microplate readers and reagents were purchased at both UIUC and HEJ. In addition, UIUC acquired a new flow cytometer that will be used by Pakistani faculty and graduate students during their planned visits to UIUC. On the US side, two graduate students and a part-time post-doc have been hired on the project. The researchers have been using plant extracts to induce cancer cell apoptosis using the photonic crystal biosensors developed in the UIUC Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory in collaboration with SRU Biosystems. These biosensors will be made available to researchers from Pakistan after training is conducted at UIUC. Dr. Atiya Abbasi and a student had been expected to visit UIUC during the summer of 2008, but due to visa and scheduling complications those visits have been postponed repeatedly. Once the visitors are nominated and their visas processed, they are expected to meet with their US counterparts to plan future work on their joint project and also familiarize themselves with research under way in the relevant labs and departments at UIUC. Meanwhile, a course entitled Current Topics in Nanomedicine, conducted jointly by the University of Illinois and Washington University in St. Louis, was made available to University of Karachi students and faculty for the first time in the fall 2007 semester.
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