Zavaleta Lab Awarded NIH Grant for Nanoparticle Tumor Imaging Technology

May 17, 2023

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has funded a research project in USC’s Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering that harnesses nanoparticle technology for more precise cancer imaging, ensuring better surgical outcomes for tumor patients.

WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Cristina Zavaleta leads the project titled “A New Multimodal Molecular Imaging Approach to Guide Intra-Operative Tumor Resection and Post-Operative Treatment Planning.”

For many cancer patients, the initial line of treatment involves surgical debulking, which can be challenging due to poor tumor localization. This often results in lengthy, incomplete surgeries and the need for repeat visits to ensure the tumor is removed. To address this issue, Zavaleta and her team have been developing a new class of multimodal nanoparticles to directly target tumors and work as fluorescent contrast agents for real-time imaging. The approach is innovative in that it utilizes dyes that are already FDA-approved for the coloring of foods, drugs, and cosmetics.

The proposed research is intended to provide physicians with an entirely new molecular imaging tool that will essentially “paint” the tumor area that needs to be sensitively and specifically identified during and after surgical resection.

USC Viterbi Magazine previously highlighted the Zavaleta Lab’s use of nanoparticle imaging agents using common dyes to directly target cancer cells.

Published on May 17th, 2023

Last updated on October 18th, 2023