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Progress in nanotechnology is opening a realm of possibilities for Dr. Gang Zheng and his team at the Princess Margaret. This innovative approach could offer real-time feedback in cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Nanoparticles are small enough to reach almost any part of the body, giving them remarkable potential.
Biological processes happen at the nanoscale. Cancer is no exception. With imaging done via nanoparticles, cancer can be detected in its earliest stages, when just a few cells are affected.
These same nanoparticles can also be directed to embed themselves in tumours, deliver targeted treatments, and offer rapid updates on the effectiveness of those treatments.
Dr. Zheng has developed a unique nanoparticle that has caught the attention of the scientific community. This nanoparticle has the ability to transform when activated with light.
"Traditionally, when you're given a drug, you would hope for the best. Now, you can track what happens with the drug in real time," says Dr. Zheng.
"You can determine the best treatment schedule, design the best treatment strategy, and find out whether this therapy is actually the best fit for the patient."
In nanotechnology, Dr. Zheng sees an unprecedented integration of the technologies and expertise at the Princess Margaret.
"None of this was possible even 10 years ago," he says. "We're now seeing that fantasy can become very much the reality if we push hard enough."
Dr. Zheng hopes his nanotechnology will be ready for a clinical trial in December 2018.
The “Transformers” magazine by The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation focuses on how the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is adopting new methods, including the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence, to deliver precision medicine and transform cancer care.