Thermal Cancer Therapy with Magnetic Nanoparticles: Opportunities and Challenges

Robert Ivkov, Johns Hopkins University

Friday, April 15, 2011

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

Magnetic nanoparticles create heat that can be exploited to treat cancer when they are exposed to alternating magnetic fields (AMF). While it is well established that heat is a potent anti-cancer agent that effectively sensitizes cancer to radiation and chemo-therapies, its use in the clinic remains disappointingly limited to a very limited subset of the disease. The use of magnetic nanoparticles as a delivery agent of therapeutic heat for cancer therapy thus offers the potential to overcome the two long-standing hurdles for heat-based therapy — imprecise selectivity and inconsistent dosimetry. Despite the promise, magnetic nanoparticles offer a new set of challenges that must be addressed to accurately assess their potential utility in the clinic for therapeutic heating. As with all therapeutic agents, the problem reduces to the 3 D's — Delivery, Distribution, and Dose. The promise and challenges inherent with the use of magnetic nanoparticles as a delivery agent of therapeutic heat will be discussed with particular emphasis given to the materials science and engineering aspects of the opportunities and challenges.

About the Speaker

Dr. Ivkov's research focuses on the development and characterization of magnetic nanoparticles and AMF-device development for cancer therapy. Upon his arrival at the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in early 2008, Dr. Ivkov began a broad research program with the aim to develop clinical applications of heat-based therapies for metastatic cancer. A significant aspect of this research interest is the development and characterization of nanoparticle formulations and magnetic coil components that produce therapeutic heat in animal models of human cancer, particularly when combined with other therapeutic agents. The nature of this research is multi-disciplinary and translational, and thus requires a diverse research team comprising multiple skills. His M.Sc. project was theoretical and fundamental focusing on understanding the nature of colloid stability. Magnetic nanoparticle suspensions are colloids and his early theoretical research, post-doctoral training, and ongoing collaborative research with scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) provides access to unique tools and insight into the physical and biological implications of these systems. His Ph.D. research focused on the thermodynamic properties of actin polymerization as a reversible higher order phase transition. To complete the work he developed expertise in the methods needed to isolate, purify, and characterize proteins, and he gained an appreciation for the implications of heat in biological systems. His experience in the private sector is more directly related to the translational aspects of his current research. After leaving NIST, he co-founded Triton BioSystems, Inc. in 2002 to develop targeted nanoparticle therapeutic agents for the treatment of local cancer. At Triton, he led product development efforts directed to targeted magnetic nanoparticle and devices for local ablative thermal therapy of cancer. He has published over thirty scientific papers and has filed sixteen patents (issued and pending) in nanotechnology, nanobiotechnology, and targeted therapies.