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Microneedle delivery systems for next-generation antibody therapeutics


   School of Pharmacy

  Prof Ryan Donnelly  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Microneedle arrays are minimally-invasive devices that painlessly, and without drawing blood, penetrate the skin’s stratum corneum barrier. This allows delivery of a range of substances that would otherwise not be able to move into or across the skin. Though microneedles have found great use in intradermal vaccines, our Group focusses on high-dose drug delivery. A key trend in the pharmaceutical industry is development of antibody-based therapeutics. These advanced therapeutics allow highly-specific treatment of a range of medical conditions, from cancer to rheumatoid arthritis, to HIV. Unfortunately, hypodermic needles are required for delivery, meaning skilled healthcare professionals are usually needed and pain on injection and needle phobia often reduce compliance. There is also the risk of infection and problematic disposal.

The novel microneedle systems to be developed here will take these complex therapeutics out of the formal healthcare setting and place them in the hands of patients, who will be able to self-apply the microneedle systems that will painlessly, and without drawing blood, deliver the antibodies. In this project, the student will design and characterise novel polymeric microneedle systems using a range of innovative techniques. The benefits to patients of the technology developed during this studentship will be profound. The student will work at the cutting edge of developments in a world-leading Research Group, with members from 16 different countries, thus greatly enhancing their skillset and ultimate employability.

This interdisciplinary project will provide training in a range of analytical methods, design and assessment of novel delivery systems and biological models for assessment of the potential clinical efficacy of formulations. Furthermore, student training will take place within a highly active international research culture. In addition to laboratory based-skills, the student will also undergo training in research methodology and statistics and will have opportunities to develop both verbal and written communication skills. The student will publish their research in journal articles and present at both national and international conferences. The student will also have the opportunity to actively participate in a range of outreach activities in the community and gain teaching experience on our undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Expected impact activities include: enhanced patient care and quality of life, economic development for the pharmaceutical and medical devices industry. The student’s CV will be enhanced through training with a leading international Group.

Home applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

1st or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline.

Applicants should apply through the University's Direct Application Portal: https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php


Funding Notes

Department for the Economy studentships are open for applications to Home and International applicants for October 2023 entry. Eligibility and funding information is available here: View Website

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