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Novel nanoparticle-loaded formulations to enhance the locoregional delivery of anticancer drugs to brain tumours

   Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

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  Dr Z Ong  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the deadliest form of primary brain tumour with an extremely poor survival duration of less than 15 months. The treatment of GBM involves surgical debulking of the tumour mass, followed by radio/chemotherapy. However, residual cancer cells remain in the so-called margin zone and are responsible for the inevitable recurrence and resistance to treatment. We have recently developed a simple and versatile synthetic method to produce highly uniform porous silica nanoparticles with intrinsic cancer targeting and pH responsive drug release properties. This project aims to develop a novel formulation comprised of the organic-inorganic hybrid nanoparticles that can enhance the penetration and delivery of anticancer drugs following local administration in the brain. The student will first prepare and characterise the release of anticancer drug loaded nanoparticles from the formulation. Subsequently, the effect of surface chemistry and particle size on the penetration and cellular accumulation of the nanoparticles will be studied in 2D and 3D patient-derived GBM cell models using high resolution electron microscopy and fluorescence microscopy techniques. The degradation profiles of the novel nanoparticle-loaded formulation will be evaluated under physiologically relevant conditions. Biocompatibility of the novel formulation will be studied using various patient-derived brain relevant cell types.  

This project is well-suited to highly motivated students with a keen interest in the interdisciplinary area of Nanotechnology for biomedical applications. Students are expected to possess a minimum of an upper second-class degree (or equivalent) in a relevant Pharmacy, Biomedical Science, Chemistry, Physics or Engineering background. The successful candidate will be trained in a wide range of highly desirable skills in the field of Nanomedicine, Drug delivery, and Biomaterials such as nanoparticle fabrication, use of electron microscopes (TEM/SEM) and confocal microscopes, drug loading and release, in vitro 2D and 3D cell culture and/or animal work. The student will benefit from working in a vibrant and multidisciplinary environment in the Bragg Centre for Materials Research as well as with staff and students from the Schools of Physics and Medicine at the University of Leeds. 

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