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Understanding the mechanisms of controlled release systems based on pristine graphene and tripeptides

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

  ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Graphene has received considerable interest especially in electronics and recently increased attention in the biomedical sciences, with potential applications from gene and drug delivery. We recently have shown that short tryptophan peptides (i.e. dipeptides, Trp2, and tripeptides, Trp3) could functionalise pristine graphene (PG) to form stable suspensions with reduced toxicity. However, those results clearly depended upon the length of the peptide. Indeed, the tripeptide, Trp3, created a complex with PG with the most negative zeta potential, which resulted in the highest concentration of PG in suspension after 4 weeks and the smallest particles in suspension. The ability of these complexes to be used as drug delivery systems was tested with the chemotherapeutic agent doxorubicin. Doxorubicin loading efficiency was highest with pristine graphene tripeptides; however, these results were preliminary, especially the ones regarding toxicity and drug release. Thus, this project aims at understand mechanistically the formation of PG-peptides complexes as well as the loading and release of drugs using both computer simulations and experimental studies.

Using molecular dynamics simulations the formation of complexes between tripeptides and pristine graphene will be investigated then the mechanisms of interaction of the drug and the complex will be investigated. Using classical methods of characterisation of graphene materials (Raman spectroscopy, FTIR, AFM, DLS, zeta potential), the formation, drug loading and stability of these drug delivery systems will be investigated.

Candidates are expected to hold a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, physical chemistry, physics, pharmaceutical science or related subject. Candidates with experience in some of the aforementioned techniques or with an interest in nanoparticles are encouraged to apply.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience are particularly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website).


F Alkathiri, C McCallion, A Golovanov, J Burthem, A Pluen and R Bryce. "Solvation of Pristine Graphene Using Amino Acids: A Molecular Simulation and Experimental Analysis", Journal of Physical Chemistry C, doi: 10.1021/acs.jpcc.9b06648.

C McCallion, J Burthem, K Rees-Unwin, A Golovanov, A Pluen. “Graphene in therapeutics delivery: Problems, solutions and future opportunities”, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, 104, 235-250.

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