Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
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Nanostructured Lipid Carriers (NLCs) for Cancer Therapy via Pulmonary Drug Delivery

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Monday, December 02, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This is a call for applications for a three-year fully funded PhD studentship in the School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences (PBS) at Liverpool John Moores University. PBS is at the forefront of higher education in Pharmacy, Biomedical Science, Forensic Science and related areas, and has excellent working relationships with pharmaceutical providers, the NHS and industry.

Project Description

In the UK in 2013, 292,680 new cases of cancer were diagnosed, while 1.5 million deaths were associated with cancers. In the UK alone, around a 5th of all cancer deaths are from lung cancer. Surgical resection is currently the best treatment of lung cancer; however, chemotherapy remains the first-line strategy for clinical treatment of various cancers. Due to the limitations associated with conventional treatment of lung cancer, drug delivery of chemotherapeutic agents to the lungs is an area of significant research. This is due to high patient acceptance as well as organ characteristics, including: large surface area (100 m2), thin alveolar epithelium, non-invasive route, avoidance of first pass metabolism and possibly more site-specific drug delivery. In addition to the delivery of high drug concentration, maximum therapeutic effect can be achieved. The vast majority of lipid-based micro- and nano- formulations are associated with stability problems such as aggregation, fusion and drug leakage. NLCs are advanced new generation lipid carriers and possess unique characteristics, i.e. composed of less ordered structures and offering securer drug encapsulation and stability.

The successful applicant will investigate and evaluate methods for the preparation of NLCs, employing a variety of solid lipid,liquid lipid and surfactants as starting materials. Optimised NLCs formulations will be loaded with anti-cancer agents, and extensively characterised with respect to both physical and chemical properties. The anti-cancer efficacy of NLCs will be assessed in-vitro, using normal and cancer cell lines, followed potentially by in-vivo testing. Full training will be provided in all utilised techniques. These will include NLCs formulations, particle morphology, size and surface charge characterisation (microscopy, DLS); methods for quantification of active encapsulation and release (HPLC); and assessment of NLC cytotoxicity and death induction mechanisms in normal and cancerous lung fibroblast cells using cell biology (viability assays, immunoblotting, etc.) and imaging approaches. The successful candidate will benefit from the diverse expertise of the supervisory team, and will also be given opportunities to engage with teaching and learning activities within PBS.

Candidate Qualities

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with strong critical thinking skills to work on this exciting and highly interdisciplinary project. Good communication skills in both written and spoken English are a must, as is the ability to work well in a team environment.

Entry Requirements

The ideal candidate will hold an undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above (or equivalent) and a Master’s degree in a life science-related subject (pharmacy/pharmaceutical science, Cancer/Oncology, biomedical science or other relevant discipline), from a recognised academic institution. Prior experience in the development and characterisation of drug delivery systems would be beneficial.
For an informal discussion about this opportunity or for more information, please email Dr. Iftikhar Khan ().

How to Apply

Applications should be sent directly to Dr. Iftikhar Khan () and should include a CV and covering letter detailing your relevant experience and suitability for the project, as well as contact details of two referees.

We expect to conduct interviews in December, with a view to complete enrolment for the successful applicant within the fixed enrolment window of 27th January – 7th February 2020.

Funding Notes

Due to funding restrictions, only UK & EU citizens may apply for this studentship. Funding will consist of full tuition fees for three years and the award of a living stipend at the LJMU standard rate (which is in line with UK Research Council rates). Continued funding will be subject to satisfactory progress.


XU, J., LU, X., ZHU, X., YANG, Y., LIU, Q., ZHAO, D., LU, Y., WEN, J., CHEN, X. & LI, N. 2019. Formulation and Characterization of Spray-Dried Powders Containing Vincristine-Liposomes for Pulmonary Delivery and Its Pharmacokinetic Evaluation From In Vitro and In Vivo. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 108, 3348-3358.
DABBAGH, A., ABU KASIM, N. H., YEONG, C. H., WONG, T. W. & ABDUL RAHMAN, N. 2018. Critical Parameters for Particle-Based Pulmonary Delivery of Chemotherapeutics. J Aerosol Med Pulm Drug Deliv, 31, 139-154.

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