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Light-activated Cancer and Antimicrobial Therapy with Drug-loaded Polymeric Micro/Nano-Materials (MARINMU21SF)

School of Chemistry

About the Project

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive therapeutic modality where the combination of light, oxygen and photosensitisers drugs leads to the generation of reactive oxygen species, predominantly singlet oxygen, that are able to destroy tumours and various infections by bacteria, fungi and viruses. The benefits of PDT can be further enhanced using nanoparticles. Advantages of using nanoformulations include the possibility of delivering the drug in a targeted manner – minimising the possible side effects; performing a controlled drug release at the tumour/infected site; and the possibility of delivering multiple therapies or for theranostic applications.

One aim of this PhD project is to develop nanosystems based on the encapsulation of drugs within different types of polymeric nanoparticles to be used for the treatment of cancer via PDT. Furthermore, the student will investigate the use of polymeric nanoparticles for the delivery of combined therapies to the cells.

A second strand of the project will consider drug/polymer composites for antimicrobial therapy, combining e.g. electrospun fibres or entrapped microparticles with wound dressing materials or nanosystems or implants as antimicrobial agents for internal infection control.

The project will work at the exciting interface between materials, drug delivery and medicine. It will involve a wide range of polymer synthesis/conjugation, processing, formulation and characterisation skills, alongside studies of photosensitiser properties, delivery and activation, singlet oxygen generation and more biological aspects of the work as systems are tested for in-vitro efficacy.

The project will be co-supervised by Dr Marín and Dr. Mayes and, supported by our network of internal and external collaborators. We have adjacent well-equipped labs in the Chemistry and Pharmacy building and benefit from a wide range of resources across the Science Faculty and beyond. Our current group members are working on a variety of related projects including nanomaterials synthesis, polymer synthesis and processing, PDT and drug delivery.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here
Type of Programme: PhD
Start Date: 1st October 2021
Mode of study: Full Time

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at View Website

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

Entry requirements are Chemistry or Biochemistry. The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.


i) “Photosensitiser functionalised luminescent upconverting nanoparticles for efficient photodynamic therapy of breast cancer cells” M. Buchner, P. García Calavia, V. Muhr, A. Baeumner, T. Hirsch*, D. A. Russell and M. J. Marín* (*Corresponding Authors). Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 18, 1, 98-109 (2019)
ii) "Towards optimisation of surface enhanced photodynamic therapy of breast cancer cells using gold nanoparticle-photosensitiser conjugates" P. García Calavia, M. J. Marín, I. Chambrier, M. J. Cook and D. A. Russell. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 17, 3, 281-289 (2018)
iii) “Water soluble multifunctional antibody-porphyrin-functionalised gold nanoparticles for targeted photodynamic therapy” O. Penon, M. J. Marín,* D. A. Russell and Ll. Pérez-García* (*Corresponding Authors). J. Colloid Interface Sci. 496, 100-110 (2017)
iv) “Delivery of a hydrophobic phthalocyanine photosensitizer using PEGylated gold nanoparticle conjugates for the in vivo photodynamic therapy of amelanotic melanoma” M. Camerin, M. Moreno, M. J. Marín, C. L. Schofield, I. Chambrier, M. J. Cook, O. Coppellotti, G. Jori and D. A. Russell. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci. 15, 5, 618-625 (2016)
v) “Iron oxide nanoparticles functionalized with novel hydrophobic and hydrophilic porphyrins as potential agents for photodynamic therapy” O. Penon, M. J. Marín, D. B. Amabilino, D. A. Russell and Ll. Pérez-García. J. Colloid Interface Sci. 462, 154-165 (2016)

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