PhD student Dominyka Dapkutė
Biomedical Physics Laboratory in National Cancer Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania

The winner of L’Oréal Baltic-UNESCO Programme ‘For Women in Science’ 2020

Hitching a ride: stem cell-based delivery of theranostic nanoparticles

PhD student Dominyka Dapkutė

Biomedical Physics Laboratory in National Cancer Institute, Vilnius, Lithuania

Nanomedicine and stem cell therapy are current scientific hot-topics. A synergy of both has potential application in oncology, especially in eradication of the most threatening cancer stem cells. Nanotechnology raises big hopes in treatment of cancer – a single nanoparticle can incorporate multiple functions and act as theranostic (combining both diagnostics and therapy) tool. However, the unwanted accumulation of nanoparticles in healthy tissues led to the search of their new more advanced delivery methods. Unique cells in our body called mesenchymal stem cells are responsible for tissue regeneration, also migrate specifically to cancerous tissue and therefore can be used as Trojan horses transporting cancer-killing nanoparticles. Delivery of antitumor agents using these cells is biologically compatible, clinically safe and showed tremendous success in pre-clinical studies. This project aims to address the current limitations of existing cancer diagnostics and therapeutics by investigating an elegant marriage between smartly-designed theranostic tool and stem cell-based nanoparticle delivery method. Hopefully, this intrinsically interdisciplinary research will constitute a significant leap towards the end of never-ending battle with cancer as well as bring innovative insights from a more fundamental point of view.

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