March 5, 2019

Wayne State searches for new treatments for resistant kidney cancers using precision guided nanomedicines

Renal Cell Carcinoma (RCC) is the most common form of kidney cancer and remains one of the 10 leading causes of cancer death in the U.S. Every year, over 60,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and over 14,000 people die from RCC. In addition, there are higher incidences of kidney cancer in military personnel and veterans, which might be linked to toxic exposure to contaminated water, radiation and chemicals.

Arun Iyer, Ph.D., assistant professor of pharmaceutical sciences in Wayne State University’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, has received a three-year, $611,475 Idea Development Award as an Early Career Investigator from the Department of Defense Kidney Cancer Research Program to research the cancer and look for new treatment strategies.

The project, “Tumor Stroma-Penetrating Oligomicelles Containing Combination Payload for Reversal of Drug Resistance and Immune Modulation in Kidney Cancer,” aims to design and develop a cancer multicomponent targeting nanotechnology-based library approach for fighting the disease. The tumor seeking nanoparticles will be co-loaded with unique drug combinations that can work in synergy with multiple modes of action, including rejuvenating the body’s own immune system to effectively fight the cancer.

“Renal cell carcinoma is difficult to treat because it is resistant to many of the current therapies available,” said Iyer. In addition, RCC is generally diagnosed in the late stages, making it more resistant to current treatments. Because of this, newer combinations of targeted therapies are needed, including better ways of drug delivery and imaging/diagnosis to effectively combat this malignant disease. The proposed nanoparticles are not only designed to target and kill the tumor cells, but also suppress the tumor-promoting immune cells, resulting in sustained anti-tumor immune response in RCC.  

Preliminary results from the research team are very promising, and the funding from the DoD will aid in validating their initial findings that may result in improved drug delivery efficiency, efficacy and safety that can be applied for future clinical translation.

The project co-investigators are Samaresh Sau, Ph.D., senior research scientist, Department of Pharmaceutical Science in Wayne State’s Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; Arun Rishi, Ph.D., professor of Oncology, Wayne State’s School of Medicine; and physician scientist collaborator, Ulka Vaishampayan, M.D., chair of the Eisenberg Center of Translational Therapeutics at the Karmanos Cancer Institute.

The award number for this Department of Defense grant is W81XWH-18-1-0471.

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit



Julie O'Connor
Phone: 313-577-8845

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