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Nano-medicine in cancer diagnosis

20 May 2020

2 minutes to read

Nano-medicine in cancer diagnosis

Pablo Martinez Pancorbo is a postgraduate candidate in XM2 – The EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Metamaterials. His supervisors are Professor Nick Stone and Professor Yanqiu Zhu. Pablo’s research looks at the use of nanoparticles in  biomedical imaging for improved cancer detection.

“The University of Exeter has brought me the opportunity to work as a scientist and grow both in scientific knowledge and independence along with traveling across the globe.

I work both in biophysics and materials engineering, using the best of both worlds. I have been widely involved in teaching while researching, as much as I wanted during my doctoral degree, and I ended up becoming a Higher Education Academy associate fellow.”

Motivation for raising awareness

“I was also diagnosed with cancer during my third year and was successfully treated while working as a researcher in the field of cancer nanomedicine. I have both the theoretical and first-hand personal experience in dealing with cancer at multiple levels. Therefore, disseminating science and raising awareness about current trends and state of the art biomedical research became my passion [1].”

Current method of cancer diagnosis  

“Cancer is today one of the main causes of death worldwide and is expected to increase over the years. Typically, cancers are approached with low-resolution imaging techniques combined with biomarkers detection and analysis to establish if the patient might have cancer. Then, most of the time, chemotherapy is used for treatment, targeting the suspected type of tumour. There are many uncertainties and limitations in this diagnostic and therapeutic process. In the best scenario, the patient will be correctly diagnosed with the specific type of tumour they have and provided with the best available clinical treatment for that type of tumour obtaining the status of remission. Unfortunately, this will require having an original tumour large enough to be detected, not just a single cancer cell, and we will not know if the patient is cured until several years after the treatment. As a part of my research project, I developed magnetoplasmonic nanoparticles that have multiple uses in cancer nanomedicine. In my previous paper, I created a new class of nanoparticles that had a diagnostic property with promising capabilities to detected single cancer cells with Raman [2].”

An all-in-one nano scale device

“Now, I have upgraded the design to incorporate more features such as CT, MRI for imaging and detection and hyperthermia treatment to create an all-in-one nano scale device to stop cancer once for all at the cellular level. Early results from this research have been widely discussed in both talk and poster presentations at several conferences and invited talks. These nanoscale devices offer new opportunities to find and kill tumours at an early stage and post-treatment while the patients are in remission. Hence, the survival rates are likely to increase upon approval of these types of nanodevices for clinical uses. I plan on working towards safety and clinical approval while developing novel functionalities.”

[1] Nanoparticles for cancer imaging and treatment – Pablo Martinez Pancorbo. YouTube video

[2] Martinez Pancorbo, P., Thummavichai, K., Clark, L., Tabish, T. A., Mansfield, J., Gardner, B., Chang, H., Stone, N., Zhu, Y., Novel Au–SiO2–WO3 Core–Shell Composite Nanoparticles for Surface‐Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy with Potential Application in Cancer Cell Imaging. Adv. Funct. Mater. 2019, 29, 1903549.


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