Research areas description
Even though most cancers are specific to a certain area of the body, they are still treated by injecting highly toxic drugs that can affect a person's entire system, including healthy organs and tissues. Meanwhile, only a small fraction of the drug typically reaches the affected region.
A better approach would treat the cancer more effectively without harming other parts of the body. For this to happen, drugs would need to be able to travel through blood vessels using the most direct route from the injection site to the treatment area. Dr. Sylvain Martel, Canada Research Chair in Medical Nanorobotics, aims to develop new medical platforms, maneuverable drugs and other treatments that will make this possible.
Martel is combining nanotechnology (the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale) and principles of robotics to develop treatment methods that can deliver drugs more deeply and directly to solid tumors and hard-to-treat areas.
To accomplish this, Martel and his research team are working on several approaches. One is the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to develop complementary ways of delivering drugs to blood vessels. Another uses special computer-controlled flagellated bacteria (bacteria that have lash-like appendages to propel themselves). Carrying treatments, these micro-organisms can be guided towards solid tumors using specially developed platforms that harness their behaviors and onboard sensors to force them to deliver their cargo to the affected areas.
Combining sciences and medicine, Martel's advanced engineering concepts aim at providing the next generation of Canadians with cutting-edge cancer treatments.
- Sylvain Martel | Responsible