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University College London Featured PhD Programmes

Peptide hydrogels as novel nanotherapeutic delivery agents enhancing the anti-tumour efficacy of radiotherapy

School of Pharmacy

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Dr J Coulter , Dr G Laverty Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

There is a pressing clinical need for effective localised cancer treatments. Addressing this need we will develop a novel drug delivery system comprised of a nanoparticle/drug releasing hydrogel implant. Responsive to the tumour microenvironment, implants will release their anti-tumour cargo following activation by high phosphatase enzyme expression. To achieve this we will use a peptide-mimetic (peptide-like) molecule enabling the precise attachment of a variety of anti-tumour therapeutics, providing both chemical versatility and excellent biocompatibility. Furthermore, functional properties will be tuned to ensure sustained nanoparticle/drug release (over 28 days). A major advantage of a sustained release formulation is the removal for the need for patients to comply with complex and debilitating drug dosing regimens, thereby improving adherence and achieving maximal drug/tissue concentrations at the point of need.
Our approach will use this hydrogel platform to provide long-term delivery of: 1) a range of existing chemotherapies (DNA damage repair inhibitors) and/or radiosensitising gold nanoparticles. Given the potential for these agents to work in synergy with radiation, combination studies will be explored.
The appointed student will benefit from this cross-disciplinary project gaining expertise in both pharmaceutics and formulation science as well as becoming proficient in a range of in vitro and in vivo cell biology and radiobiology techniques. This diverse transferable skill set will ensure the candidate is positioned for their future career development

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant
subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical
Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or
a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a
Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to
shortlist for interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high
academic attainment to date
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