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Cold Plasmas for Enhancement of Intracellular Delivery of Macromolecules


   School of Pharmacy

  , Dr Vicky Kett, Dr Stephen Kelly  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Cold plasmas are partially or completely ionised gases which are generated at or near ambient temperatures. Cold plasmas generate a dynamic and diverse array of reactive oxygen species, ROS, (including atomic oxygen (O), superoxide, hydroxyl radicals (OH), superoxide (O2-), singlet oxygen (1O2-), ozone (O3) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)) and reactive nitrogen species, RNS, (including nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), nitrite (NO2-), nitrate (NO3-) and peroxynitrite (ONOO−)) which have a wide range of cellular effects, including antimicrobial activity. Recently, work in our laboratory has shown that short, sub-lethal cold plasma exposures facilitate the delivery of large therapeutic molecules across cells membranes in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Encapsulation of antibiotic into nanoparticles offers the potential to reduce drug inactivation and further enhance uptake. Thus a combined cold plasma and nanoparticle approach has the potential to greatly enhance intracellular drug and macromolecule uptake.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic biofilm research group focused understanding the mechanisms of biofilm formation and antimicrobial tolerance, and developing novel approaches to their detection and control . The project will combine ongoing research into the potential microbiological applications of non-thermal (cold) plasma (Gilmore lab) and advanced nanoparticle drug delivery (Kett lab), employing classical culture-based methodologies planktonic and biofilm culture models and biofilm antibiotic susceptibility assays alongside molecular biology (PCR, next generation sequencing), formulation and drug delivery (nanoparticle manufacture, physicochemical characterisation including encapsulation, stability and release profile).

The successful candidate will be trained in microbiology, molecular biology techniques, applications and characterisation of non-thermal plasma, formulation and drug delivery techniques, as well as project management and data analysis training. Training received during this studentship will ensure the successful candidate possesses a comprehensive skillset, of high relevance to a career in the pharmaceutical industry or in academia. Expected impact activities include attendance at international conferences, including the opportunity for conference presentations. Publication in international, peer-reviewed journals. Potential for clinical collaboration and application of novel discoveries.

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.


Funding Notes

Department for the Economy studentships are open for applications to Home and International applicants for October 2023 entry. Eligibility and funding information is available here: View Website

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