Next-generation nanoparticle functionalisation for selective delivery to brain tumours

Lead Supervisor: Ruman Rahman

A nanoparticle is a small particle that ranges between 1 to 100 nanometres in size, less than the width of a single human hair. Undetectable by the human eye, nanoparticles can exhibit significantly different physical and chemical properties to their larger material counterparts. These properties have the potential for nanoparticles to revolutionise cancer biology. 

‘Glioblastoma’, the most common malignant brain cancer, remains incurable despite multimodal standard-of-care treatment (surgery, followed by adjuvant radiotherapy and chemotherapy). In considerable part, this is due to otherwise potent chemotherapy drugs failing to cross the blood-brain-barrier effectively, and lack of targeting these drugs specifically to glioblastoma cells in the brain, thus sparing healthy brain cells. 

The aim of this research project is to synthesise next-generation nanoparticles through a new proprietary manufacturing process. This will enable rapid development of a suite of chemotherapy-loaded nanoparticles which are decorated with glioblastoma-targeting ligands on the outer surface. Initial experiments will be conducted using patient-derived glioblastoma cell lines to identify those likely to be sensitive to this mode of therapy. Methodologies will include RNA-sequencing and membrane proteomic profiling (genotyping and phenotyping), 2D and 3D tumour organoid cultures (cytotoxicity assays), and confocal microscopy (intracellular drug uptake and accumulation). 

The final series of experiments will test the potential efficacy of lead nanoparticle formulations using patient-derived xenograft mouse models of glioblastoma. A key outcome measure will be overall survival relative to animals treated with glioblastoma standard -of-care. This will generate proof-of-concept data to expedite a route to clinical translation. 

Check your eligibility and apply here

 Funding details:

  • This opportunity is open to both Home and International students. Funding is available for four years from October 2024.
  • The award covers tuition fees at the home rate (currently £4712) plus an annual stipend (currently £18,622 for 2023/2024). This is set by the Research Councils. 

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Doctoral Training Programme

The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

Tel: +44 (0) 115 8466946