Nanomaterials for Drug and Gene Delivery research
Explore how we're helping to create targeted, safe and effective medicines to positively impact patients' lives
Delivery of an effective dose of a drug specifically to its target cells increases its efficacy and reduces side effects. Through our nanomaterials and drug delivery research, we're helping to create targeted, safe and effective medicines to positively impact patients' lives.
We're engineering and developing smart medicines for organ-specific diseases such as tumours, and our engineered nanomaterials enhance the ability of novel drugs that prevent and treat infections. Drugs that are administered on their own spread throughout the body in an uncontrolled way – leading to undesired toxicity and low efficacy. The medicines we develop can be delivered via smart carriers to specific parts of the body where a disease occurs, making them more effective and less likely to cause side-effects.
We’re also developing novel polymeric materials with functions inspired by biological systems. These materials generate platforms with new biomimetic polymeric architectures designed to enhance treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of chronic diseases (such as cancer, cardiovascular, and lysosomal storage diseases). The novel delivery systems are also able to deliver drugs to intracellular targets currently considered “undruggable”. We're also exploring new platforms for tissue-specific and site-specific gene delivery using functionalised lipid nanoparticles and hybrid peptide-lipid nanoparticles for treatment of cancer and metabolic disorders.
Our research also includes development and optimisation of smart lipid nanoparticles (LNPs), and rationally designed peptides for targeted delivery of therapeutic nucleic acids – such as siRNA and mRNA to specific tissues or tumours. This is the technology currently used in the successful delivery of vaccines – such as the Covid-19 vaccine. We use this approach to reduce the production of proteins by tumours using RNA interference (RNAi), and this allows us to efficiently treat different types of cancer with low adverse effects. This approach can be used to increase protein production in specific tissues – used for the treatment of various t metabolic disorders.
Our research also uses the natural self-assembly and recognition properties of nucleic acid sequences (such as DNA) for biological, therapeutic and nanotechnology applications. We seek to improve the ability of these natural molecules to form triple helix structures by developing novel DNA-binding agents capable of recognising unique locations along the double-helical DNA. These molecules have potential to modulate the expression of specific genes, and introduce functionality into artificial DNA nanoconstructs.
Current research topics
- Artificially expanded genetic information systems for developing antigene oligonucleotides
- Triplex-modulation of CRISPR/Cas9 nucleases
- Triple-helical architectures for DNA nanotechnology
- Optimisation of lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) for targeted gene delivery to cancer cells
- Development of rationally designed peptides for targeted gene delivery to cancer cells
- Synthesis and characterisation of multifuctional polymers
- Modification of natural polymers to introduce antibacterial properties
- Formulation of hydrogels for the controlled delivery of drugs
- Nanomaterials for Drug and Gene Delivery
- FIrebird Biomolecular Sciences
- University of Sassari, Italy
- Centre for Enzyme Innovation, University of Portsmouth
The formation and displacement of ordered DNA triplexes in self-assembled three-dimensional DNA crystals
Zhao, Y., Chandrasekaran, A. R., Rusling, D. A., Woloszyn, K., Hao, Y., Hernandez, C., Vecchioni, S., Ohayon, Y. P., Mao, C., Seeman, N. C. and Sha, R., (2023), "The formation and displacement of ordered DNA triplexes in self-assembled three-dimensional DNA crystals", Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Hadianamrei, R., Tomeh, M. A., Wang, J., Brown, S. and Zhao, X., (2023), "Surfactant like peptides for targeted gene delivery to cancer cells", Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.
Hadianamrei R., Wang J., Brown S., Zhao X., (2022), "Rationally designed cationic amphiphilic peptides for selective gene delivery to cancer cells", International Journal of Pharmaceutics.
A reactive oxygen species-scavenging ‘stealth’ polymer, poly(thioglycidyl glycerol), outperforms poly(ethylene glycol) in protein conjugates and nanocarriers and enhances protein stability to environmental and biological stressors
d’Arcy, R., El Mohtadi, F., Francini, N., R. DeJulius, C., Back, H., Gennari, A., Geven, M., Lopez-Cavestany, M., Yesim Turhan, Z., Yu, F., Bong Lee, J., R. King, M., Kagan, L., Duvall, C. L. and Tirelli, N., (2022), "A reactive oxygen species-scavenging ‘stealth’ polymer, poly(thioglycidyl glycerol), outperforms poly(ethylene glycol) in protein conjugates and nanocarriers and enhances protein stability to environmental and biological stressors", Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Triplex-forming properties and enzymatic incorporation of a base-modified nucleotide capable of duplex DNA recognition at neutral pH
Rusling, D. A., (2021), "Triplex-forming properties and enzymatic incorporation of a base-modified nucleotide capable of duplex DNA recognition at neutral pH", Nucleic Acids Research.
We're researching the bioactive molecules and biocompatible materials for their potential use as drug carriers, bioadhesives, surgical implants and more.
We develop novel technologies for disease diagnosis at an early pre-symptomatic stage using a synergistic combination of gold nanostructures and unique Raman spectroscopic techniques
Biomaterials for tissue engineering
We work at developing products that will be used in the repair of damaged tissue, in particular cartilage, bone, tendons and muscles.
Theory, Modelling and Drug Design
Discover how our research identifies new drug molecules and improves drug design
Molecular mechanisms of diseases
We're exploring the molecules and molecular processes that cause diseases, and working to develop better treatments.
Interested in a PhD in Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences?
Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.