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Development and evaluation of microneedle arrays for ocular drug delivery


School of Pharmacy

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Dr R Thakur No more applications being accepted Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Minimally invasive microneedles (MNs) offer unique opportunities to address current challenges in the effective management of ocular disorders, such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic retinopathy (DR) [1]. There is a clear unmet clinical need for efficient, safe, minimally/non-invasive and patient-friendly strategies for the treatment of prevalent diseases of the posterior segment of the eye. We have previously demonstrated how MN technology can enable localised drug delivery to target posterior segment tissues using both polymer based soluble MNs [2] and hollow MNs [3]. For example, delivering small molecules and biologics within the scleral tissue offers localised and minimally invasive alternative to highly invasive intravitreal injections that are given on a monthly/bi-monthly basis for the rest of the patient’s life.

 

In this project, the PhD student will take a systematic approach to address some of the fundamental questions in ocular delivery using MNs. This will include comprehensive literature review; development of in vitro models to evaluate the mechanical properties of MNs and tissues; combination of computer modelling and in vitro evaluations of MNs to enable selection of optimum MN-based formulation; and analytical method development and validation for drug analysis. The project is in collaboration with a leading Pharma company, so the student will have an opportunity for secondments during the 3-yr period to gain additional knowledge and industrial experience.

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to shortlist for interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high academic attainment to date. https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php

For DfE studentship eligibility, please check the link below.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/department-economy-studentships


Funding Notes

DfE studentship in collaboration with our partner Pharma company
Fully funded
100% of UK/EU tuition fees paid and an annual stipend for UK residents only (living expenses)

References

1. Thakur et al. (2017) Minimally invasive microneedles for ocular drug delivery. Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery, 14(4), 525–537.
2. Thakur et al. (2016) Rapidly dissolving polymeric microneedles for minimally invasive intraocular drug delivery. Drug Delivery and Translational Research, 6(6), 1–18.
3. Thakur et al. (2013) Microneedle-mediated intrascleral delivery of in situ forming thermoresponsive implants for sustained ocular drug delivery. J Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 66, 584-95
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