Two professors put him on the right track: PhD student Subas Scheibler is exploring the potential of iron-based nanoparticles for the diagnosis and treatment of solid tumors.
Nanoparticles are a huge topic in cancer medicine. What is your approach, Mr. Scheibler?
I don’t want to take credit for other people’s achievements. The basic idea comes from my PhD supervisor Inge Herrmann at ETH and from Hans-Josef Hug, in whose team I am currently working at EMPA St. Gallen. They described a process for the production of iron-based nanoparticles that are very strongly magnetic, well tolerated, and easy to use. Two years ago, the two scientists were looking for a doctoral student to continue their research.
Both Herrmann and Hug have been involved in startups before. Did you know that during the interview?
It was clear to me from the start that the transfer of knowledge and technology is very important to this project: The aim is to transfer basic physical research to the medical technology market. That was ultimately the reason why I attended the Business Concept course.
You completed the course before the summer break. Did the exchange with investors and industry experts influence your doctoral thesis?
Absolutely! You have to know that magnetic nanoparticles can be used both in diagnosis and in the therapy of tumors. As a contrast agent, the particles can lead to sharper sectional images. Once they are inside the tumor, they can also be of therapeutic use. They can be heated in a magnetic field so that they weaken or destroy the surrounding tumor cells. For a long time, I pursued both applications in my work. Since completing the course, I have been concentrating on diagnostics.
We want to take advantage of the climate of disruption in the magnetic contrast media market: In 2017, the FDA warned that gadolinium, one of the most common agents, leads to harmful buildup in the brain.