The Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center is a bench top and translational lab that focuses on designing and testing multifunctional nanotechnology-based constructs for targeted imaging and therapy of patient-based glioma models. Led by principal investigator Constantinos Hadjipanayis, MD, PhD, current activities include investigating cell targeting, uptake, downstream signaling pathways, imaging, and therapeutic efficacy against glioblastoma (GBM), a fatal brain cancer with poor prognosis.

Nanotechnology-based platforms studied in the Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory include magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), such as iron oxide and iron-based nanoparticles, quantum dots, upconverting nanoparticles and carbon dots. Functionalization of these nanoparticles with antibodies or peptides specific to GBM cells allows for targeted therapies.

MNPs can be used with alternating magnetic field (AMF) for local hyperthermia treatment in combination with radiation therapy and chemotherapy for potential GBM treatment. This is a new area that has emerged in neuro-oncology and is heavily studied in the lab.

The lab is also heavily involved in the study of photodynamic therapy (PDT) as a potential adjuvant therapy for GBM. PDT is a clinically established treatment modality for many cancers. However, the procedure still requires optimizations for application to GBM therapy

The main focus of the lab is to facilitate translation of bench top and rodent work into clinical studies. Lab members have backgrounds in cancer research, molecular biology, engineering, chemistry, physics and neurosurgery. With such a diverse background in education and experience, the Brain Tumor Nanotechnology Laboratory is able to take the multidisciplinary approach necessary for solving some of the most complex challenges the field of neurooncology is facing today.