We have discovered a unique class of molecule produced by environmental bacteria termed HELMs (heterogenous lipopeptide micelles). HELMs are comprised of 2-3 different cyclic lipopeptides that form stable micelles (<7nm). These micelles are able to encapsulate antibiotics and serve to enhance the activity of these molecules. Interestingly, HELMs are gastric stable enabling delivery by the oral route. The concept has been patented (currently at PCT stage) and we have submitted this work to Nature (05/12/2019). In preliminary studies we have shown that HELMS can encapsulate other molecules and this forms the basis of this project.
We propose to use HELMs as efficient drug delivery "vehicles" to encapsulate a variety of drugs (anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, etc), particularly those that have efficacy against unmet medical needs (e.g., colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease). Our project would apply to both human and animal health. The student will receive training in a range of biochemical and biophysical methods and will join a multidisciplinary research team to conduct in vitro and in vivo studies (mouse model) to optimize encapsulation parameters and to determine whether HELMs can be used for targeted delivery of drugs, for human cancer therapy, intestinal ailments and prevention of infectious disease.
This PhD project will be supervised jointly by:
1. Simon M Cutting, Department of Biological Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London
2. Sunil Shaunak, Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London
Applicants are invited to contact supervisor(s) by email ahead of submitting their application. Further information about applying for a postgraduate course at Royal Holloway can be found here: https://www.royalholloway.ac.uk/studying-here/applying/postgraduate/how-to-apply/
Applications should be submitted online: https://admissions.royalholloway.ac.uk/#/HEapplicationForm////////1
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