Exploring the therapeutic role of nanomedicine on cancer metastasis

Metastasis accounts for 90% of cancer-related death. While cancer metastasis is a multistep process, the first event is cell invasion into surrounding tissue. Invasiveness is the hallmark of brain cancer, their diffuse infiltration in the brain parenchyma renders surgical resection ineffective. The effectiveness of conventional chemotherapeutics is also limited by the selective permeability of blood-brain barrier and drug resistance. There is no therapy that targets the infiltrative brain cancer cells.
Nanoparticles (NP) have promising applications in cancer drug delivery, radiotherapy and tumour imaging.  However, their therapeutic role on cancer metastasis is rarely explored. Here, we aim to explore how NP could be used to modulate brain cancer cell invasion/metastasis.
In particular, we are interested to explore the use of targeted and BBB-penetrating porous silicon nanoparticles to deliver small molecules, or a gene sequence to attenuate the migratory ability of brain cancer cells.
This scientific endeavour may involve mammalian cell culture, nanoparticle surface chemistry modifications and stability characterisations, microfluidic-based assays, live-cell time-lapse imaging, gene knockdown, and other biochemistry techniques. Details of the scope depends also on the student’s interest.
In alignment with the worldwide trend of interdisciplinary research, this research is a collaboration between Monash, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the University of Queensland. We may utilise platforms such as the Melbourne Centre of Nanofabrication (MCN) and Monash Biomedical Imaging.

Attached figure: Live cell confocal time-lapse of functionalised pSiNP crossing “BBB” into “brain parenchymal” in vitro.