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Degradable microneedle arrays for user-directed nanomedicine delivery for the treatment of glaucoma

Project Description

Research project: This studentship involves the design and development of nanomedicine containing dissolving microneedle arrays (MNs) for the treatment of glaucoma. Glaucoma is the leading cause of global irreversible blindness and increases in prevalence with advancing age. The most common type is primary open angle glaucoma; following diagnosis this is most commonly treated with eye drops which need to be applied regularly (1 – 4 times per day). This traditional route of topical administration can lead to patient discomfort, eye irritation and temporary visual impairment as well as having the disadvantage of poor ocular bioavailability. MNs provide a novel ophthalmic drug delivery platform for the prolonged, targeted administration of drugs. MNs would enable efficient drug administration whilst reducing the risk of vision loss due to poor patient adherence. This facile dosing regimen would allow increased patient independence and reduce treatment fatigue.

The student will join the established cross-disciplinary Nanomedicine Partnership (NMP), based in the Materials Innovation Factory at The University of Liverpool (UoL), led by co-supervisors Professors Steve Rannard (SR) and Andrew Owen (AO). They will fabricate MNs consisting of nanoformulated glaucoma therapeutics and clinically relevant polymer excipients and utilise novel Radiomaterials chemistry approaches that are unique to Liverpool. The student will investigate structure-activity relationships between the chemical and mechanical properties of MNs, including mechanical strength (fracture force, insertion force and penetration depth), dissolution rates and drug encapsulation, in order to optimise drug administration to the anterior of the eye. MNs will undergo preliminary in-vitro and ex-vivo assessment in order to evaluate their suitability for clinical translation.

For more details on the research project please contact the supervisors:
Dr Tom McDonald, Department of Chemistry
Dr Helen Cauldbeck Department of Chemistry

Please apply by sending CV and letter of application to Ms Diane Ashton

Training: The University of Liverpool is setting up a Doctoral Network in Technologies for Healthy Ageing to train the next generation of physical scientists and engineers to develop novel technologies and devices to address the challenges faced by older people and our clinical colleagues who work with them. It is structured around three healthy ageing challenges; prolonging independence, maintaining wellness and accelerating recovery.

All students will undertake a specific training programme in conjunction with their research project. A range of training modules have been designed to provide the student cohort with the high levels of scientific knowledge and engineering expertise needed for research and development of devices and technologies appropriate for the Healthy Ageing agenda. Through this approach our students will learn skills that will provide them with a unique advantage to develop technologies appropriate for this community and significantly enhance their employability in this emerging field. At the start of the programme students will have a masterclass session with a consultant in clinical geriatric medicine, a therapist and a social worker to introduce them to the challenges of the older person in the community through case studies. Each student will spend a week with a Consultant Geriatrician in clinics and community visits. This clinician will remain in contact with the student throughout their PhD in the role of a mentor to maintain the interface between their projects and the healthcare challenges. Innovative training sessions will ensure the training and research is grounded in real world challenges and have been constructed to provide Essential Transferable Skills and Subject Broadening Skills. The student will be a member of the Liverpool Doctoral College which provides further training opportunities over all three years of the PGR programme, and includes Inductions (general and safety), E-learning (e.g. Good Research Practice), seminars (presenting as well as attending), outreach opportunities and journal clubs.

Funding Notes

Studentships will be funded for 3.5 years covering the home fees and typical Research Council stipend.
Research Council Doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2019
• National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009
• Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2019/20 is £4,327

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