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'Shark Tank' contest winners to target cancer with nanoparticles

On the TV show Shark Tank, contestants pitch business proposals in the hopes of winning money to turn their ideas into reality. Last weekend, researchers from all across the University of Cincinnati participated in a Shark Tank style competition aimed at generating new ideas for cancer treatments.

Dr. Lisa Privette Vinnedge was on the winning team. She says, "Our proposal {is} to adapt nanoparticles to be able to label where cancers are in the body and eventually use those same particles to, not only see the tumor, but treat it at the same time so that you can identify the tumor and know that the medication is getting there."

The team will now write up a formal proposal and use the $100,000 prize to begin the research.

Privette Vinnedge  says the design and testing phase will take about a year. Clinical trials could begin after that.

Winning team members included:

  • Lisa Privette Vinnedge, PhD, from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and research instructor in the department of pediatrics at the UC College of Medicine.
  • Kris Huang, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the department of radiology at the UC College of Medicine and a UC Health radiation oncologist.
  • Syed Ahmad, MD, professor in the department of surgery and surgical oncologist and director of the UC Cancer Institute’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Center.
  • John Yin, PhD, faculty member from UC’s College of Engineering.
  • Xiaoting Zhang, PhD,  associate professor and researcher in the department of cancer biology.
  • Trisha Wise-Draper, MD, PhD, physician and researcher in the division of hematology oncology.
  • Pheruza Tarapore, PhD, assistant professor in the department of environmental health.
  • Mariano Fernandez-Ulloa, MD, a professor in the department of nuclear medicine
  • William Porter, MD, resident in radiation oncology. 
Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Prior to joining Cincinnati Public Radio, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She enjoys snow skiing, soccer and dogs.