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Developing molecularly imprinted polymeric nanocarriers for targeted cancer immunotherapy


   School of Pharmacy


About the Project

This exciting interdisciplinary research will marry expertise in molecular imprinted polymers, nanomedicine and cancer immunotherapy. This attractive project to the pharmaceutical industry will also offer cancer patients affordable and effective treatment. This cutting-edge research is anticipated to have both economic and social impacts on NI society and worldwide. 

Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are considered synthetic receptors for targeted ligands. They are simpler, robust, more versatile and cost-effective than conventional antibodies. MIPs have been heavily explored as sensing, extraction and assay agents; however, their biomedical applications in diagnosis and targeted drug delivery and therapy still remain underdeveloped. 

The immunosuppressive nature of tumour microenvironment has been a major hurdle to tackle, resulting in ineffective cancer treatment. Checkpoint inhibitors are antibodies targeting the overexpressed programmed cell death protein (PD-1) on T immune cells or PD ligand-1 (PD-L1) on cancer cells. To date, a range of anti-PD-1 and anti-PD-L1 monoclonal antibodies have been clinically approved to treat patients. Despite their success, their production and scaling up issues have been reflected in high costs, limiting their availability for a broad patient population range. 

This interdisciplinary research aims to develop MIP-based nanocarriers targeting overexpressed PD-L1, offering affordable and more effective cancer treatment. In this project, MIPs will be synthesised using bespoke methods (e.g. nanoprecipitation, mini-emulsion, and core-shell grafting). MIP-based nanocarriers will be formulated, and their in vitro and in vivo activities will be assessed in relevant cancer models, using flow cytometry, ELISA, and tumour growth assays. 


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