Asya completed a four-year BSc degree in Molecular Biology at Sofia University. She continued her education with a 2-year MSc degree in Biomolecular sciences at Vrije University Brussels where she was awarded a scholarship for an excellent performance. Her MSc final year project was focusing on optimisation of the pharmacological profile of an antimicrobial peptide using different organic chemistry approaches to modify the structure of the peptide in attempts to improve its therapeutic index. While working on her thesis Asya realised she would like to continue with a research career in drug discovery. Shortly after graduation she started a paid internship at St. George's University of London, where she was working on the high-throughput synthesis and in vitro evaluation of antimicrobial peptides. The work included multivariate analysis using for the identification of important features for antimicrobial activity and toxicity. In October 2015, Asya started her PhD with the CDT in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines.
Project description: The penetration of particulate and soluble drugs into tumour tissue following extravasation is hindered by the extracellular matrix (ECM). Poor drug penetration into solid… read more
Project description: The penetration of particulate and soluble drugs into tumour tissue following extravasation is hindered by the extracellular matrix (ECM). Poor drug penetration into solid tumours leads to therapy resistance and ultimately treatment failure. There is some evidence implicating the over expression of extracellular matrix proteins and glycosaminoglycans such as hyaluronic acid correlates with poor treatment outcomes.
We will explore for the first time the possibility to combine the promise that gene silencing holds for cancer therapy together with an ECM targeting approach using polymer based nanoparticles carrying siRNA coated with hyaluronidase. Our novel method of tackling the core interstitial pressure barrier caused by the overexpression of matrix proteins and hyaluronic acid is to produce hyaluronidase - siRNA polymer based nanoparticles, which will be delivered intranasally to target genes in glioblastoma. We will capitalize on the tumour tropism shown by nanoparticles to produce therapeutics that accumulate in solid tumours and diffuse widely through the tumour stroma to result in downregulation of target genes.
My research in the past was focusing on antimicrobial peptides, peptide chemistry and microbiology. I have used a high-troughput method for the synthesis of peptides and screening methods for their biological evaluation. I have used a computer software for the prediction of structure-activity relationships of the molecules, which showed promising results in the screening tests and then