In-cell quantification of drug concentrations is fundamentally important to drug function, efficacy and toxicity, and for understanding and accurately predicting drug interactions and inter-subject variability in drug response (either on-target or off-target effects). Although progress has been made in quantifying (bio)molecules and metabolites at the cellular level, it remains very challenging to have an effective and universal system which is capable of implementing quantitative measurements of intracellular drug concentrations. The low concentration of drugs and the presence of other substances/interferents in the living cells further could enhance the difficulty and uncertainty/complexity of measurements.
Until very recently, it has been reported that the quantification of in-cell drug concentrations could be realised by using single-probe mass spectrometry (SPMS) and magic-angle spinning dynamic nuclear polarization NMR (DNP-NMR). Unfortunately, these approaches are inherently limited. For example, SPMS is destructive and requires an internal standard, and DNP-NMR needs a specific/selective isotope labelling of drug.
In this absorbing project, we seek to apply an optimised sensing system based on our already developed nano-sensors and further use bespoke receptors to target and quantify intracellular drug concentrations. There will be no need to label or modify drugs. In addition, the following multiple functionalities, such as single-cell analysis, non-destructive detection, real-time monitoring, reduced signal interference and localised detection, could potentially be achieved and integrated.
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. Applications considered throughout the year from applicants who have secured external funding or are willing to self-fund the project. Due to the highly interdisciplinary nature of this project, candidates with a Master degree is desired.
The project is multidisciplinary, and it involves people with expertise of nanomedicine, material science, organic synthesis, and pharmaceutical/biomedical engineering. The student will be working with a highly dynamic and interdisciplinary research team.