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Niels Bohr Professor David Needham moves to SDU Health Faculty

Niels Bohr Professor David Needham, SDU, is now associated with the SDU Department of Molecular Medicine.

David Needham and his research group have obtained basic research results at a level that now allows the group to proceed to test their ideas in environments closer to patients. The Department of Molecular Medicine, IMM, has a long experience of translational medical research, and the switch from the SDU Science Faculty to IMM, which has close links to Odense University Hospital (OUH), will enable David Needham’s research group to further develop their research to the benefit of patients.

David Needham, together with his research group, has established a center for Singe Particle Science and Engineering (SPSE), which includes applications in anti-cancer drug delivery that is emerging as a new Center for Cancer Drug Delivery. In close cooperation with researchers from the Department of Nuclear Medicine, OUH, headed by Poul Flemming Høilund-Carlsen MD, they examine how nanoparticles - composed of small oil molecules - can detect cancer cells on their way to spread in the body and deliver both anticancer drugs and tracers for early visualization of tumors in a highly targeted way. The vision is to "put the drug in the cancer’s food", so that cancer cells absorb and concentrate substances that will allow the tumors and their cancer cells both to be detected and to be rendered harmless.

So far, the research, which is funded by the Danish National Research Foundation, has been conducted at the basic science level at the SDU Science Faculty in the Department of Physics Chemistry and Pharmacy (FKF). The shift to the Institute for Molecular Medicine, at the SDU Health Faculty marks the transition from basic research towards practical use in health care. This transition brings the university, health and society closer together by enabling transfer of fundamentally new research results into practical application in the individual patient.

In the process the group will establish new diagnostics and therapeutics for metastatic cancer with a concept called "Diapeutics" which includes setting up a special program for research and development, which is dedicated to the production of nanoparticle-based drugs. Using a radioactive isotope embedded in tiny nanoparticles, they make it possible, with a Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner to detect the cancer location and distribution in the body and then, with the use of an almost exact replica of the imaging nanoparticle but now loaded with the anti-cancer drug to deliver the drug to the most aggressive cancer cells that reside just outside the blood vessels in the tumor.

The center's research is conducted in collaboration with a new international consortium including Duke University Cancer Institute in a new partnership between the Schools of Engineering and Medicine, Nottingham University School of Pharmacy in England, the Center for Cancer Research under the Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen and the Department of Nuclear Medicine, Odense University Hospital.

The collaboration and this vision is greatly appreciated by the Head of Department Uffe Holmskov:

"The Center for Cancer Drug Delivery fits perfectly with IMM and our research profile. I hope that David Needham and his research group can benefit from our close cooperation with Odense University Hospital, and that the cooperation between existing research groups and the new center can be beneficial for both parties - and most importantly, for the cancer patients."

Meet David Needham

David Needham, PhD, Niels Bohr and Hans Christian Andersen Academy Professor.

David Needham

Editing was completed: 03.02.2017