Nanocode: A Barcoded Nanoparticle Based Screen for Precision Discovery of Cancer Drug Sensitivities
Grant Amount: NIS 4.2 Million
About the Project
The aim of our project is to identify the best possible drug that will treat a tumor of a specific patient. A major problem with current cancer therapy is that treatment protocols are performed according to results of many patients and are NOT tailored to a specific patient. Thus, when line 1 of treatment fails, the physicians proceed with line 2, 3 etc. However, in many cases only line 4 proves beneficial but at this stage the patient’s body is too weak to survive. Our goal is to identify, at a short time, to which drugs the patient responds (i.e. the specific drug that kills the malignant cells) and ONLY then start treating the patient with this specific drug or drug combinations. To achieve that and to develop our unique method called NANOCODE, we gathered a team of experts: Prof. Itamar Willner, a world known expert in Nanotechnology; Prof. Eli Pikarsky, an expert in Cancer Research and Pathology; Prof. Rachel Nechushtai, a Biochemist and Cell Biologist; and Dr. Oren Parnas, a Molecular Biologist with expertise in high-throughput screening and single cells analysis. The team chose to focus on Ovarian Cancer, the most lethal Gynecology cancer. Our technology is developed in a mouse model system. We inject mice with human ovarian cancer cells and three weeks later Nanoparticles, that were developed and produced in Prof. Willner’s laboratory, are injected. These Nanoparticles are preloaded with anti-cancer drug(s). The Nanoparticles also contain on their surface a leading-agent that targets them to the cancer cells. Various chemical modifications are varied on the Nanoparticles. After injection various calculations are carried out to see which of the candidate drugs was most effective in killing cancer cells. To date we have screened more than 10 different Nanoparticles to identify the best leading molecule, with the highest specificity towards cancer cells. We utilize molecular tools to obtain fluorescent ovarian cancer cells, as well as a fluorescent dye to follow the Nanoparticles using state-of-the art sorting technology.
Research Team
Prof. Eli Pikarsky
The Concern Foundation Laboratories, IMRIC, Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School
Prof. Itamar Willner
Institute of Chemistry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Dr. Oren Parnas
The Concern Foundation Laboratories, IMRIC, Faculty of Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School

Prof. Rachel Nechushtai
Alexander Silberman Institute of Life Science, The Wolfson Institute for Applied Structural Biology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 
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