Glimmer of Hope

Dean Ho at COORCancer is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. Researchers continue in their quest for more effective treatments to combat this deadly disease. Among the most promising advances has been the rise of nanomedicine – the application of tiny materials and devices whose sizes are measured in the billionths of a meter to treat disease.

A specific form of nanomedicine that has researchers hopeful for a cure is the use of nanodiamonds, which are by-products of conventional mining and refining processes, and can even be found in ground soil. The miniscule diamonds are approximately five nanometers in diameter and are shaped like tiny soccer balls. Dr. Dean Ho, Professor of Oral Biology and Co-Director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at UCLA School of Dentistry, has been working with nanodiamonds for the entirety of his career. One of the youngest ever to attain the rank of full professor at the dental school and UCLA, Dr. Ho, and his research team, have made great strides in studying and proving the effectiveness of nanodiamonds as an imaging agent and drug delivery system.

The surface of nanodiamonds is ideal for administering drug therapies, such as chemotherapy drugs, which can be toxic in large doses. Nanodiamonds can be used to bind a wide spectrum of drug compounds to its surface. By simply injecting this material into a cancer patient, we can significantly reduce or even eliminate tumors.  

Dr. Ho is forging forward in his quest to harness the unique features of the nanodiamond-drug agents. The ability to simultaneously eliminate drug toxicity while markedly improving treatment efficacy may be a game-changing advance in medicine. 

THERE IS A GLIMMER OF HOPE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF NEW THERAPIES TO TREAT A BROAD ARRAY OF DISEASES AND CANCERS.