Cancer has repeatedly proven itself to be a tough opponent in the medical field and continues to stump researchers around the world. At the University, students and faculty have been working together to combat cancer reoccurrence with a drug-delivering nanoparticle that has the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment.

Dipanjan Pan is an associate professor in the Department of Bioengineering. Pan is also a faculty member of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Pan and members of his research team have developed a nanoparticle with the ability to target and destroy cancer stem cells. Niclosamide, a drug that is widely used to treat tapeworm infections, has been proven effective when administered by the nanoparticle.


Now that the Carle Illinois College of Medicine has been established, further research can begin. The building is not yet complete, but students and faculty are anticipating it’s potentially groundbreaking arrival.

It is the world’s first engineering-based medical school.

Stephen Boppart, Illinois professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and head of the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory at the Beckman Institute, is enthused about the future for engineering-based medical research on campus.

“I’ve always been interested in combining medicine with engineering to solve issues in health care with technological solutions,” Boppart said.

This is a new approach to cancer research, one that could potentially be revolutionary.

“Historically, cancer and all health issues have been investigated with biological or physiological interventions. If we apply engineering to these health issues, we may be able to find solutions that way,” Boppart said. “In my lab, we develop new optical imaging and sensing technologies that can help with medical diagnostics.”

Professor Rohit Bhargava, founder and Director of the The Cancer Center, has been incredibly involved in accelerating and enhancing cancer-related research at the University. According to Bhargava, The Cancer Center was established in July of 2017 to “take the basics of science and technology to create interventions for therapies for cancer patients.”

The establishment of The Cancer Center and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, which are combining traditional medical research and engineering, will lead to more discoveries similar to Pan’s. The University is moving forward with this groundbreaking, futuristic approach to cancer research and this is just the beginning.

– Written by Molly Zupan, Staff Writer for the Daily Illini 

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