NANOTHER – TAMs-targeted and externally controlled nanotheranostics of triple-negative-breast-cancer


Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) represents 20% of the 3 million breast cancers diagnosed in women worldwide every year. In Portugal, the incidence of breast cancer is of 118.5 women per 100000 population, which represents 30% of the newly diagnosed cancer cases in women every year and continues to show a high mortality rate.

The only systemic therapy currently available for patients with TNBC is (neo)adjuvant therapy with various cytotoxic chemotherapeutic agents. However, the lack of targeted therapeutic options, together with the limited efficacy of current treatments as well as the adverse effects associated with them, demands an urgent effort to develop novel targeted therapies and early diagnostic methods.

The main objective of this project is to ameliorate the prognosis of TNBC through the preparation and preclinical validation (in vitro plus in vivo) of a targeted theranostic probe able to offer a non-invasive imaging capability together with a combined hyperthermia and chemotherapy treatment against TNBC. To achieve this goal, an imaging reporting moiety in addition to a chemotherapeutic drug (doxorubicin) will be encapsulated to specifically recognize and accumulate in tumor associated macrophages (TAMs).

At the end of the project an in vitro and in vivo preclinical validated theranostic probe showing i) enhanced synergistic magnetic hyperthermia-chemotherapy and ii) T2w-MR imaging will be delivered.
These expected results will enable translational research and will be the key in the advance towards an adequate and timely therapeutic intervention in patients with TNBC, being also a step forward on the way to targeted image-guided therapies of cancer. In order to accomplish these goals, this exploratory project is conceived as a collaborative cross-disciplinary effort between the INL (Dr. Bañobre), UT Austin (Prof. Cui), and the UMinho (Prof. Baltazar), with expertise in the preparation of the raw materials (UT Austin, INL), their assembly to prepare the targeted SLNs with theranostic functionality (INL) and the in vitro (UMinho) and in vivo (INL, UT Austin) validation.

Title TAMs – Targeted and externally controlled nanotheranostics of triple-negative-breast-cancer
Reference UUTAP-EXPL/NTec/0038/2017
Scientific Area Nanotechnologies
Funding 98 550,00€
Leading Institution Laboratório Ibérico Internacional de Nanotecnologias (INL)
Participating Institutions The University of Austin at Texas (UT Austin)
Universidade do Minho (UM)
Duration 21 months
Begin date 1st November, 2018
End date 31st December, 2020 (extended)
Key Words Triple-negative-breast Cancer, Nanotheranostics, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Hyperthermia-induced Drug Delivery

Manuel Bañobre

Principal Investigator in Portugal

Zhengrong Cui

Principal Investigator in Austin


"This proposal contributes to addressing a significant challenge in the area of health, and bridging the gap identified between fundamental and applied sciences through the design of in vitro and in vivo validation tests for the synthesized theranostic probes. This initiative represents an innovative and groundbreaking use of tailored hybrid nanocomposites as an innovative and tangible solution in the field of targeted drug delivery against cancer, TNBC in particular."

Principal Investigators


Research team determined to improve the prognosis of invasive triple breast cancer