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Localised antibiotic delivery and release with luminescent mesoporous silica nanoparticles

  • Full or part time
    Prof Z Pikramenou
    Dr J Blair
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, January 06, 2019
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Bacterial infections are becoming harder to treat as antibiotic resistance becomes increasingly prevalent. There is also a lack of drugs in the pipeline to take the place of those that can no longer be used due to resistance and novel therapeutic options are needed.
Many Gram-negative pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, are particularly difficult to treat because their membrane structure makes them relatively impermeable to many antibiotics. This project will develop a novel tool using silica nanoparticles to deliver antibiotic molecules across the membranes of these bacteria. This novel drug delivery system will increase efficacy of antibiotic treatment and provide new treatment options for hard to treat infections, particularly those that cause wound or surface infections.
Mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSN) can act as efficient tools for drug delivery as morphologies with high surface area and pore volume, both of which ensure sufficient loading of drugs. This project has two main arms. Functional nanoparticles containing light activated groups will be developed in the School of Chemistry within the laboratory of Professor Zoe Pikramenou using expertise of the group in previously studying inclusion of luminescent reporters in silica nanoparticles (Lamgmuir 2013) and on gold nanoparticles (J. Amer. Chem. Soc 2018). The microbiological testing of the antibiotic containing MSNs will take place in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection within the laboratory of Dr Jessica Blair. We will also determine the effect of this targeted delivery system of the development of resistance to different antibiotics and compare this to traditional drug delivery to see if resistance rates are altered.

Funding Notes

This studentship is competition funded by the BBSRC MIBTP scheme:
Stipend: RCUK standard rate (plus travel allowance in Year 1 and a laptop).
The Midlands Integrative Biosciences Training Partnership (MIBTP) is a BBSRC-funded doctoral training partnership between the universities of Warwick, Birmingham and Leicester. It delivers innovative, world-class research training across the Life Sciences to boost the growing Bioeconomy across the UK.


Lewis, D., Dore, V., Rogers, N., Mole, T., Nash, G., Angeli, P. and Pikramenou, Z. Langmuir, 2013, 29, 14701.
King, S. M., Claire, S. Teixeira, R.I Dosumu, A.N., Carrod, A.J., Dehghani, H., Hannon, Ward, A.D., Bicknell, R., Botchway, S.W, Hodges, N.J, and Pikramenou, Z J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018 140, 32, 10242-10249.

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 28.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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