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Towards digital health: Real-time monitoring and personalisation of narrow therapeutic index drugs using 3D printing

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Basit
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Around the world, narrow therapeutic index (NTI) drugs are used to treat a wide range of conditions, including microbial infections, epilepsy and coagulation disorders. However, these NTI drugs require regular therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM) and dose titrations, involving processes which are highly invasive (requiring the frequent withdrawal of blood samples) and expensive, costing the NHS over £136 million annually. To reduce the burden on healthcare services and to improve patient outcomes, a new method of point-of-care monitoring and drug dosing is required. As such, this project aims to engineer a non-invasive platform for real-time monitoring and personalised dosing of NTI drugs using three-dimensional printing (3DP). The project will be split into two parts: Part 1) development of a portable device for the rapid evaluation of drug levels in non-invasive biological fluids (e.g. saliva or urine) for use at the point-of-care and; Part 2) Development of personalised 3D printed dosage forms containing therapeutic drug dosages based on the clinical feedback from the portable device developed in Part 1. Via the intersection of these two cutting edge technologies, the management of NTI drugs will in the future be revolutionised, reducing healthcare spends and improving treatment outcomes.

Main Methods and Techniques to be employed

For the development of a non-invasive drug monitoring device, the evaluation of cutting edge pharmaceutical analysis techniques will be performed, including spectroscopic methods (including near infrared; NIR, surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy; SERS and Terahertz spectroscopy), solid-contact ion specific electrodes, colourimetric methods and immunoassays. A model will then be developed and validated using univariate and/or multivariate analysis using chemometric software, which could then be transferred to a mobile smartphone application for analysis. Development of formulations containing therapeutically relevant dosages will be evaluated on a variety of 3DP technologies, including fused deposition modelling (FDM), selective laser sintering (SLS), stereolithography (SLA) and semi-solid extrusion. Cross-communication of the application to the digitised 3DP platform will be evaluated to enable real-time monitoring of dosages based on clinical feedback.

Our group has a track record in using spectroscopic technologies for drug detection and quantification, and is world-leading for pharmaceutical 3DP technologies. This project will be predominantly focussed on the use of our in-house NIR or SERS technology for drug detection, however other emerging techniques will also be evaluated, such as surface plasmon resonance and hyperspectral imaging at the National Physical Laboratory

Currently, our research group is supervising 10 PhD students, with a 100% PhD completion rate (of 50 students) and three patents relating to 3D printing. In 2018, our group published 23 review, book chapters and original research articles in 3D printing and diagnostics and authored the world’s first 3D printing in pharmaceuticals textbook.

Person specification

Candidates should have, or expect to obtain, a first or upper second class degree, or non-UK equivalent, in Pharmacy, Pharmacology, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, or a related subject. We can only consider applicants with, or expecting, at least an upper second class degree or equivalent, or a recognised taught Master’s degree. The successful candidate is expected to commence the programme on 30th September 2019.

How to apply

Applications must only include CV, personal statement, and the contact details of two referees, and should be emailed to Dr Gabriella Caminotto: [Email Address Removed]

For any academic queries please contact Prof Abdul Basit, Department of Pharmaceutics, UCL School of Pharmacy: [Email Address Removed]

The application deadline is Friday, 22nd March 2019 (16:59 GMT).

Interviews will take place in April 2019 (date TBC).

Funding Notes

This studentship is funded by the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC), and, in accordance with their policies, applications are invited from UK/EU citizens who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of Studentship (i.e. September 2019).
The Studentship is open to UK applicants and EU applicants who meet RCUK residence requirements only, and covers tuition fees and a tax-free stipend for the duration of the four-year programme. The stipend will be based on the RCUK London Rate for 2018/19, which will be confirmed in due course. The current rate is £16,777 p.a. EU Citizens who have not been residing in the UK for the past 3 years may be eligible for a fees-only award.

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