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Stephenson Cancer Center Hosts Top Nanotechnology Researchers at Conference

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 - Campus News -

Researchers from around the nation will meet at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center in early December to discuss the ways nanotechnology can be used to detect, diagnose and treat cancer.

Stephenson Cancer Center and the OU Health Sciences Center are hosts for the 2018 END2Cancer – Emerging Nanotechnology and Drug Delivery Applications for Cancer – conference. It will be held Dec. 5-7 at the Samis Education Center on the Oklahoma City campus.

This is the second year for END2Cancer, which features a variety of Oklahoma and national speakers discussing both the potential and the challenges for using nanotechnology in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Because nanotechnology materials are similar in size to most biological molecules and structures, they hold significant promise for discovering cancer and delivering drugs to the exact area where treatment is needed.

“The END2Cancer Conference has grown in its second year to feature more than 40 speakers from around the United States, including three keynote speakers who are members of the prestigious National Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Sciences,” said Rajagopal Ramesh, Ph.D., a researcher with the Stephenson Cancer Center and chair of the conference organizing committee. “We are excited to break barriers across institutions and come together as a multidisciplinary team to discuss everything from the fundamental questions of nanotechnology to toxicology to clinical trials.”

The three keynote speakers for the END2Cancer Conference are Catherine Jones Murphy, Ph.D., from the University of Illinois; Antonio G. Mikos, Ph.D., from Rice University; and Samir Mitragotri, Ph.D., from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Harvard.

Ramesh is among several researchers and physicians from the Stephenson Cancer Center who will present their work at the conference. Ramesh’s investigations involve using nanoparticles to carry both cancer drugs and imaging agents to the cancer site in the lungs. His laboratory also has identified a way to enhance a person’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Conference participants also will hear about a clinical trial underway at Stephenson Cancer Center that is testing the efficacy and safety of a drug called OKN-007. The experimental drug was discovered at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, whose researchers realized its promise for treating glioblastoma. Neuro-oncologist James Battiste, M.D., Ph.D., is leading the trial at the Stephenson Cancer Center.

In addition, faculty members from the School of Biomedical Engineering on OU’s Norman campus will talk about their work leveraging nanotechnology and engineering concepts to treat disease.

This year’s END2Cancer Conference features an additional component for high school students. On Dec. 5, high school seniors from around Oklahoma with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math will take part in a hands-on workshop in a laboratory at the OU Health Sciences Center. The workshop will introduce students to the basic concepts of nanomedicine and their application to cancer.

With its designation this year as a National Cancer Institute facility, the Stephenson Cancer Center is growing its research enterprise with access to new drugs, treatment options and clinical trials offered only at NCI-designated cancer centers. The designation already includes a five-year, $10.1 million grant that will support research programs and infrastructure, recruitment of top academic researchers and community outreach.

“We are excited to welcome some of the nation’s top cancer researchers to Oklahoma to join with our scientists to further the potential for nanotechnology in medicine,” said James J. Tomasek, Ph.D., vice president for research at the OU Health Sciences Center. “We are proud of the cutting-edge research being conducted at OU and, working together, we will discover better answers for our patients fighting cancer.”

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The END2Cancer Conference is supported by the Presbyterian Health Foundation, Stephenson Cancer Center and the Department of Pathology in the OU College of Medicine. The student workshop is supported by funds from the Institutional Development Award networks of Biomedical Research Excellence from the National Institutes of Health. For details about the event, visit end2cancer.com.

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