MAYAGÜEZ – Two professors from the Mayagüez Campus (RUM) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) received a grant of $ 250,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF, in English) to continue developing a project for the treatment of prostate cancer.
Eduardo García, professor of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and principal investigator of the proposal, and Torres, professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering and co-investigator of the novel proposal, are the educators who will work on said project.
Both professors from the RUM Faculty of Engineering will use the grant to continue the development of a miniature magnetic induction heater, an instrument that would be used for the treatment of prostate cancer, the RUM explained in a press release this Saturday.
This is the first gift granted in Puerto Rico from NSF’s new Partnership For Innovation program, which aims for technologies that are under development in laboratories to scale to commercialization, the RUM reported.
The project, which began six years ago at the Center of Excellence for Research in Science and Technology (CREST), already has a patent approved last August.
The co-inventors of this patent are García, Torres and Jorge Castro, doctoral student of the Graduate Program in Bioengineering at RUM.
“Whenever they give us a gift, they recognize the dedication and talent that exists in the UPR RUM. So we are very happy and satisfied with this achievement, ”Garcia said.
“Likewise, I am very pleased that this proposal is the result of a previous grant to CREST, also sponsored by NSF, so I am proud to be able to continue this initiative that began under the Center,” he said.
Torres, for his part, acknowledged the financial support for the project that “moves through this process, and puts it a little closer to what the final purpose of the instrument is, which is the patients and, with the potential that be a novel way in the future to treat cancer. “
“It is also a great pride to be the first to receive funds in this type of proposal on the island, so we are opening up new paths,” said the researcher.
For this proposal, the researchers are concentrating on developing a transrectal instrument of a miniature magnetic induction heater.
“What is therapy about? We have these magnetic nanoparticles that, if exposed to a high intensity and high frequency magnetic field, dissipate heat that, under different modalities, destroys cancer cells. What we did was develop the miniature applicator, ”García explained.
Currently, the most advanced clinical application was created by the German company MagForce, Garcia said.
He added that the magnetic field applicator they have is “a very large machine,” the size of one for making magnetic resonance images.
“The limitation of this applicator is the cost, the size, and that it cannot be used in patients who have metallic implants near the area to be treated,” explained García.
He added that the instrument they develop seeks to perform the treatment in cancerous tissue.
“In this treatment, right now the particles are injected directly into the prostate. The device we are working on is to activate those particles. In other words, the magnetic field is applied, these particles are heated, which then directly kill the cancerous tissue, ”García explained.
García, in turn, said that they have a laparoscopic prototype, which was quite advanced in the transrectal prototype, but that with this grant, they aspire to finish the device.