McNair scholar’s research on magnetic cancer treatment recognized

December 8, 2010

Thinh Nguyen, a junior physics major at Texas Christian University and UNT Health Science Center McNair Scholar, recently earned one of the first-place awards in his category of presentation at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students in Charlotte, N.C.

His research explores a new delivery method of an anti-cancer drug, curcumin, to cancer cells or a tumor site. The method consists of injecting glyceryl monooleate- (GMO) coated magnetic nanoparticles loaded with curcumin into the blood stream and applying the magnet at the tumor site. As the blood circulates, the GMO-coated magnetic nano particles are trapped by the magnetic field, and cancer cells take in the GMO-coated magnetic nano particles. Curcumin is then diffused from the GMO-coated magnetic nano particles inside the cell and induces the cancer cell to undergo apoptosis, programmed cell death.

The Ronald E. McNair Achievement Program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education in memory of the African American physicist and astronaut Dr. Ronald McNair, who was killed in the space shuttle Challenger mission of 1986. Additional funding is provided by the Health Science Center’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Miller Brewing’s REACH community investment program. The McNair program is one of 13 successful initiatives conducted by the Health Science Center’s Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences throughout the year that encourage minority and disadvantaged students from the elementary school level through graduate school to pursue futures in medicine and science.

Nguyen, a graduate of Trinity High School in Euless, plans to enter the DO/PhD program at the Health Science Center after completing his undergraduate degree at TCU. He is interested in specializing in radiology and oncology.

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