Drugs have been developed to treat thousands of conditions, but many share a common problem: they don’t reach the sites of disease in the right dose at the right time.
Our research aims to change that – by developing carriers which can take drugs, genes and cells to target sites in the body and release as and when they are needed.
To develop these carriers we are using polymers – materials made of long, repeating chains of molecules, most of which have a string of carbon atoms as a backbone. Polymers touch every aspect of our lives, including medicine and my field, therapeutics.
We’re able to build in a "trigger" so the drug is released precisely at the disease site, rather than anywhere else in the body.
We are developing new materials which are designed to respond to specific factors either present in disease or as a result of treatment. For example, the majority of women receiving treatment for breast cancer will have radiotherapy at some point in their treatment, so we are designing carriers which respond to conditions in the body after radiation treatment. We are able to build in a ‘trigger’ so the drug is released precisely at the disease site, rather than anywhere else in the body. There is potential for new sustainable drugs and therapeutic interventions in diseases ranging from Alzheimer’s and cancer, to cardiovascular disease through to tuberculosis.
It is a major international effort: we collaborate with researchers across seven European countries, plus Brazil, USA, Australia, South Africa, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. In the UK we’re working with more than 10 universities and many global pharmaceutical companies, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.