The Lundbeck Foundation Center of Excellence in Nanomedicine NanoCAN (Nanomedicine Research Center for Cancer Stem Cell-Targeting Therapeutics) was established in 2010. It bundles the best research groups within nanotechnology, molecular biology, cancer and stem cell research from the Odense University Hospital as well as from the Faculty of Health Sciences and the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the University of Southern Denmark. NanoCAN focuses on breast cancer, which is still the most common cause of cancer deaths among women worldwide, and on advanced metastatic melanoma, which associated with short patient survival.
The so-called cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a rare cell population in each tumor, which are thought to replenish the cancer cells in much the same way as the normal stem cells of the body replenish the normal cells in steady-state regeneration and after tissue damage.CSCs are further thought to be highly metastatic and resistant to conventional treatments, which mostly eliminate normal tumor cells. It has been proposed that the next generation of anti-cancer drugs shall aim at the eradication of CSCs in order to improve cancer therapy.
The main goal of NanoCAN is to develop novel and smart nano-drugs which kill the cancer stem cells without affecting the normal stem cells of the body. One of the central activitites of NanoCAN will be to systematically investigate each of the 20.000 human genes for their suitability to uncover novel treatment strategies. For this purpose front-end robotics has been build up at the center. The resulting starting points are then used for the design of self-assembling nano-drugs consisting out of biological building blocks.
Learn more: Overview of NanoCAN projects.