UT Arlington researcher secures Texas grant to battle thyroid cancer

News Release — 23 November 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Herb Booth, (817) 272-2761, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - A University of Texas at Arlington researcher has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas to create better tools for finding and treating thyroid cancer.

The research combines the use of nanotechnology and biofluorescent/biodegradable materials, said Jian Yang, UT Arlington assistant professor of bioengineering.

Yang is partnering with fellow bioengineer Kytai Nguyen to develop the “dual-imaging, dual-targeting nanoparticle system." The system combines magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescence imaging for cancer diagnosis, magnetic targeting and antibody-mediated targeting for cancer drug delivery.

“Our intent is to find the cancer with high precision and treat it in a single setting,” Yang said.

The materials used are biodegradable and "simply melt away,” Yang said.

“This research work is very important to public health because it would overcome several limitations of current detection and treatment methods for thyroid cancer,” he added.

Thyroid cancer is typically difficult to locate because as the tumor cells spread, the small tumor lesions are difficult to pinpoint. Yang noted that some of chemotherapy’s severe complications may be avoided through his project.

Yang and his research partner targeted thyroid cancer because there isn't much similar work under way, he said.

The two-year, $200,000 grant is the first to UT Arlington to receive funding through the Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas. State voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2007 establishing the CPRIT and authorizing the state to issue $3 billion in bonds to fund groundbreaking cancer research and prevention programs and services in Texas. 

The institute has awarded more than $256 million in grants.

The award will allow Yang and his colleagues to continue work that started with a $406,218 National Institutes of Health grant and a $500,000 National Science Foundation CAREER grant. That breakthrough research in fluorescent biomaterials brings hope in more efficiently delivering medicine to cancerous areas of the body, building temporary stents in arteries and even regenerating tissue.

Yang's work is representative of the research under way at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive undergraduate and graduate institution of nearly 33,000 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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