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Caltech Associates Learn about Nanoparticle Cancer Drugs

Diana Dou, a Caltech student, speaks with Katharine Schlinger, Professor Mark Davis, and Warren Schlinger, a Alumnus whose donation to Caltech will create the Katharine & Warren Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry & Chemical Engineering.

Diana Dou, a Caltech student, speaks with Katharine Schlinger, Professor Mark Davis, and Warren Schlinger, a Alumnus whose donation to Caltech will create the Katharine & Warren Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry & Chemical Engineering.

On February 12, the Associates, a support organization for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), invited members of their President’s Circle to a dinner lecture given by Mark E. Davis, the Warren and Katharine Schlinger Professor of Chemical Engineering.

The evening, held at the beautiful Athenaeum in Pasadena, was enjoyed by sixty-three guests, the majority being members of the Associates President’s Circle, an elite group of individuals who believe in supporting Caltech and its groundbreaking research. Guests enjoyed a reception, followed by a delicious three course dinner all while learning about the creation of a cutting edge cancer drug by Davis.

Davis and collaborators at Insert Therapeutics, the company that he founded, created IT-101, a nanoparticle for treating cancer that in current clinical trials has shown to prolong the lives of several patients whose bodies have rejected standard chemotherapy treatments, all while providing them with a high quality of life during the treatments by being almost side effect free. The nanoparticles are made of a synthetic polymer and a chemotherapeutic drug. The size of the nanoparticle, around 40 nanometers is large enough to avoid being washed out through the kidneys. This size allows the nanoparticles to provide therapy over many days and make the drug more accessible to cancer cells and less so to healthy tissue. This way of packaging and delivering the drug does not lead to such adverse side effects as hair loss, nausea and severe fatigue.

Davis’s creation of nanoparticles designed for fighting cancer without causing many of the effects that are synonymous with cancer drugs intrigued the audience. "Imagine being able to treat cancer so that an advanced cancer becomes chronic instead of lethal and the patient has no side effects,” said Sandy Behrens, a member of the Caltech Associates board of directors.

“What an amazing story Professor Mark Davis shared with us this week,” said Kathleen Wiltsey, the president of the Caltech Associates board of directors and President’s Circle member. “Dr. Davis is a chemical engineer, and yet he boldly ventured into uncharted territory to develop a whole new paradigm for treating cancer.”

Guests like Behrens and Wiltsey were delighted to have the chance to learn about the research being conducted at Caltech by Davis, especially in the kind of intimate setting that the Associates were able to provide. Members of the Associates, and more specifically the President’s Circle, are able to attend several dinner lectures annually that provide insight into the astounding research that Caltech faculty are working on.

The President’s Circle members were also given the opportunity to sponsor a Caltech undergraduate or graduate student to attend the dinner and lecture. These students, Todd Gingrich, Ilya Shadrin, Diana Dou, Arthur Ben Prindle, and Alon Gorodetsky, were able to enjoy this rare opportunity of interacting with faculty, scientists and members of the community while listening to a fascinating lecture in a field similar to their own. “I’ve always wanted to see Mark Davis give a talk since I know that he does really neat stuff,” said Alon Gorodetsky, a fourth year graduate student in chemistry. “I have to admit that it was everything that’s been advertised and more”.

The Associates of the
California Institute of Technology
M/C 5-32
1200 E. California Blvd.
Pasadena, CA 91125
Contact: Julia J. Cody
(626) 395-2926
jcody@dar.caltech.edu
http://associates.caltech.edu

Founded in 1926, the Associates is a support organization for the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with over 1,450 members throughout the United States and abroad - a diverse cross section of members of the local & business community, Caltech alumni and faculty, and philanthropists. To learn more about the Caltech Associates and the programs provided to members please visit http://associates.caltech.edu/ or contact at 626-395-3919.

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