Momentum - The Magazine for Virginia Tech Mechanical Engineering Vol. 4 No. 1 Spring 2019 - Page 23

23 They found up to 80-fold improvements in nanoparticle penetration and distribution using the NanoBEADS platform, compared to passively diffusing nanoparticles. Furthermore, Suh and Behkam found out that NanoBEADS largely penetrate the tumor by translocating through the space in between cancer cells. Behkam wanted to strengthen the Na- noBEADS results past the in vitro stage. With a top-flight veterinary school down the road, she enlisted Allen, her fellow MII faculty member, to test the NanoBEADS system in vivo. Tests in breast cancer tumors in mice produced results showing significant im- provements compared to passive delivery. The tests showed that there was about 1,000 times more salmonella cells in the tumor compared to the liver and 10,000 times more than the spleen. “Most notably, the salmonella itself helped keep the particles in the tumor up to 100-fold better, which would suggest it would be an effective delivery vehicle,” Allen said. The next step in the research is to load can- cer therapeutics into the NanoBEADS system to test the potential enhancement in efficacy. From bench to kennel to bedside The collaboration highlights the diversity of interdisciplinary research possible through MII and Virginia Tech. “The synergistic integration of diverse expertise has been essential to the high-impact discoveries that resulted from this work,” Behkam said. With the addition of the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC, Allen said Virginia Tech has the possibility to test scientific research “from bench to kennel to bedside.” “The project could not move forward with- out each of the three parts,” Allen said. “The study would not have gotten into such a high impact journal without having the chemistry, the background of the pathogen, the idea, and having the physiological and clinical relevance of testing it in an actual tumor in an actual animal model.” Davis said all drug delivery mechanisms have to go through animal trials, so having an “absolutely fantastic” college of veterinary medicine on campus took the research to a higher level. “One thing that attracted me to this project was the ability to work with people like Bahareh and Coy who work with cells and animal studies to really translate the work,” Davis said. “It’s hard to find that combination of people in a lot of schools.”