PhD Engineering: Ultrasound-mediated Targeted Drug Delivery in the Gastrointestinal Tract
Targeted drug delivery (TDD) is of enormous contemporary interest. It allows high drug doses to be taken without the side effects common with conventional drug treatment. It is predicted to form the basis of a multi-$bn industry by 2020.
One technique that promises to aid in enhanced TDD is ultrasound-mediated TDD (UmTDD). It involves focused ultrasound applied to drugs wrapped in protective packages such as nanoparticles. UmTDD can (1) position drugs in proximity to treatment site, (2) release them from their packaging, and (3) increase the permeability of the tissue to enhance uptake further.
Oral drug delivery is most common but many drugs suffer from poor absorption into the body by this route. Research carried out under the EPSRC-funded Sonopill Programme (sonopill.dundee.ac.uk) has produced promising results that suggest this limitation could be overcome by UmTDD. A PhD student is now sought to expand the work in this area.
The project is an academic – industry collaboration between the University of Glasgow (Prof. Sandy Cochran, www.gla.ac.uk/schools/engineering/staff/sandycochran/) and King’s College London, Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Dr Maya Thanou, kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/maya.thanou.html), with Diagnostic Sonar Ltd (DSL), Livingston. Prof. Inke Näthke (University of Dundee, www.lifesci.dundee.ac.uk/people/inke-nathke) will also be involved as an associate partner providing specific expertise in biology.
This project will provide successful applicant with an opportunity to work at the interface between pharmacology, engineering and biology. S/he will research the physical mechanisms that allow drugs to be released from their packages by ultrasound and to cross the wall of the GI tract. The project will include testing of novel devices and will also involve extensive biological experiments to demonstrate the effects that can be achieved in model systems of the gut wall.
The project is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is for four years. The involvement of DSL as the industrial partner provides an opportunity for the student to compare academic and industrial employment. The student will join the large and lively Sonopill programme team and there will be opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration and international travel. Necessary training will be offered according to the background of the successful applicant.
The studentship has support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, covering UK tuition fees and a stipend of £14,057 per annum for 4 years as well as research support.
To be eligible for this funding, applicants must have ‘settled status’ in the UK and must have been ‘ordinarily resident’ for the past three years. EU nationals may be eligible for a fees-only award. Full details can be found at: www.bbsrc.ac.uk/documents/studentship-eligibility-pdf/