A hybrid class of nanoparticles, aimed at combining the advantages of both polymeric nanoparticles and liposomes, has received attention in recent years. These core/shell type nanoparticles, frequently referred to as lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPNs), possess several characteristics that make them highly suitable for drug delivery in the fields of cancer therapy and infectious diseases.
Microfluidics has been used to prepare a range of nanoparticles and alleviate some of the issues (e.g. poor reproducibility and polydispersity) encountered with the traditional bulk formulation. Nucleic acid therapeutics, such as DNA and RNA, can potentially achieve long-lasting effect. However, their clinical translation can be hindered due to issues such as poor stability and cellular internalization or non-specific target affinity.
The aim of this project is to develop novel lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles (LPNs), able to protect nucleic acid therapeutics from degradation and improving their intracellular delivery.
The work will include the development of microfluidics methodology to formulate LPNs using different natural or synthetic polymers and suitable lipids. Model and therapeutic nucleic acids will be encapsulated during or after the formulation of the nanoparticles. The synthesised nanoparticles will be characterised using different analytical techniques such as zeta, size distribution, SEM/TEM, UV/Vis. Loading efficiency, LPNs stability, and the capacity to protect nucleic acids will be investigated using established methods. The formulations with the most suitable physicochemical properties will be used to deliver model and pharmacologically active nucleic acids to relevant model cell lines (e.g cancer cells, macrophages).
Applicants should have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate subject and a Masters (at Merit or above) in Chemistry or closely related subject.
Informal enquiries should be made to Dr. Nathalie Lavignac (N.Lavignac@kent.ac.uk; Tel: +44 (0)1634 202991). Applications should be in the form of a full C.V. and covering letter either emailed or sent to Dr. Nathalie Lavignac, Medway School of Pharmacy, University of Kent, Anson Building, Central Avenue, Chatham, Kent, ME4 4TB.