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  3D-Printing of implantable devices for the treatment of chronic conditions

   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr Eneko Larraneta, Prof Ryan Donnelly  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Non-adherence to treatment costs the NHS more than £500M each year. Adherence is especially important when treating patients with chronic conditions that require lifetime pharmacological treatment, such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, HIV and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to the economic impact, there is a direct human cost, as non-compliance significantly reduces patients’ health-related quality of life and, in many cases, is associated with early death. Non-adherence to treatment for schizophrenic patients increases the risk of relapse, hospitalisation and suicide (relapse costs £15,000/year/patient). Moreover, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease patients that do not adhere to treatment have higher risk of institutionalisation or hospitalisation, costing a total of up to £194M/year. Considering the economic and human impact of non-adherence to treatment, there is a clear need for drug delivery systems capable of providing unattended drug administration for prolonged periods of time for these conditions. 

A potential tool to develop this type of drug-delivery systems is 3D-printing. This type of manufacturing technology has several advantages over other techniques used for the production of medical devices. One of these advantages is the ability to prepare devices adapted to patient’s needs/anatomy. Therefore, this PhD project seeks to develop long-acting drug delivery systems (LADDS) using 3D-printing technology for the treatment of chronic conditions. Pharmaceutical companies, charities and UK Research Councils all currently have LADDS development as a priority. Indeed, the QUB Drug Delivery Team has received extensive funding to develop and apply such systems. The Supervisory Team has been supported by EPSRC, Academy of Medical Sciences, Prostate Cancer UK the US NIH and USAID. Moreover, a range of leading pharmaceutical companies are currently funding research projects in our lab to develop LADDS. Accordingly, QUB has extensive experience in developing such systems. The interest of pharmaceutical companies in LADDS have risen significantly. Accordingly, this project will address not only a clear patient need, but also a growing commercial interest. This 3-year PhD project will be focused on delivery of two representative compounds: risperidone and tizanidine. The first drug is an antipsychotic drug used for the treatment of schizophrenia. The second compound is a centrally acting muscle relaxant used to treat spasticity in multiple sclerosis. The project will explore the use of several technologies, including 3D-printing, to develop solid implantable LADDS. 

This interdisciplinary project will provide training in a range of analytical methods, design, manufacture and assessment of novel medical devices and biological models for assessment of the potential clinical efficacy of formulations. Furthermore, student training will take place within a highly active international research culture. In addition to laboratory based-skills, the student will also undergo training in research methodology and statistics and will have opportunities to develop both verbal and written communication skills. The student will publish their research in journal articles and present at both national and international conferences. The student will also have the opportunity to actively participate in a range of outreach activities in the community and gain teaching experience on our undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Expected impact activities include enhanced patient care and quality of life, economic development for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. The student’s CV will be enhanced through training with a leading international Group.

Home applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

1st or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline.

International applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

IELTS (or equivalent) of 7.0, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a master’s degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants should apply through the University's Direct Application Portal:

Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Medicine (26)
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 About the Project