The funding will enable a team of researchers from GIT, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University to develop and test a monorail device that redirects tumors to grow in a specially designed "gel sink." A 2014 study published in Nature Materials found that a similar device significantly reduced tumor load in rodent brains. In addition, the grant will be used to advance the technology into clinical trials and underwrite the development of an FDA-compliant manufacturing process and FDA approval for a clinical Investigational New Drug (IND) study to be conducted in Atlanta. It is hoped the project, which has received support from Ian’s Friends Foundation, an Atlanta-based nonprofit that supports pediatric brain tumor research, also will be useful in the treatment of adult brain tumors.
"Research labs such as ours are set up to achieve scientific and engineering breakthroughs, but for these breakthroughs to reach patients, we need to follow good manufacturing practices, rigorous safety and quality testing, adhere to FDA guidelines for obtaining regulatory approvals, and design appropriate clinical trials," said Ravi Bellamkonda, the Wallace H. Coulter Chair in Biomedical Engineering at GIT and lead investigator on the project. "All of these processes are going to be greatly enhanced and accelerated with this critical and visionary Marcus Foundation support."