Funded PhD Studentship: Novel Microneedle Drug Delivery Device for Administration of Cancer Vaccines Delivery

Swansea University - Nanotechnology

*This scholarship is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.*

The project will develop Microneedle (MN) and microfluidic devices for transdermal drug and vaccine delivery. The MN device can be used for delivery of several therapeutic drugs but this PhD will develop MN devices for delivering immunomodulatory drugs for cancer immunotherapy.

Harnessing the immune system is one of the hottest therapeutic approaches to combat cancer – it offers the potential for long term protection limiting harm to normal tissue, and it is backed up by the recent clinical successes of several immunotherapeutic regimes [1]. However, one of the current challenges is ensuring that the immunomodulatory drugs get inside the tumours and the lymph nodes (command centres of the immune system). The consequences of non-targeted delivery is sub-optimal drug efficacy and reduced potency but also collateral damage from exposure of health tissues to cancer drugs, that causes adverse side effects in many patients [2].

This project will develop a microneedle technology to enhance the delivery of these and other immunomodulatory drugs for improved cancer immunotherapy treatments. The PhD will develop cutting edge skills in bioconjugation chemistry and colloidal synthesis and expertise in BioMEMS/microfabrication (microfluidics, microneedles, metal deposition) and immunotherapy cancer drug testing.  

The student will develop the nanoparticle cancer vaccines and also fabricate the MN drug delivery device. The microneedles will be developed in collaboration with industry partners BioMEMS and SPTS technologies.

The student will also work closely with industry sponsor BioMEMS, developing MN products, for drug delivery and vaccine delivery.

The KESS student will link with partners in CIC biomaGUNE (Spain), to compare the efficacy nanoparticle delivery with injection of using conventional hypodermic needles.

The KESS PhD will join an interdisciplinary team and work in a dynamic and collaborative environment with access to unique research support infrastructure and state-of-the-art equipment at the new Department of Chemistry and the Centre for NanoHealth of Swansea University, and CIC biomaGUNE (Spain).

References: [1] M. Cully, Nat Rev Drug Discov., 2015, 14, 374. [2] T. C. Gangadhar et al., Nat Rev Clinical Oncol., 2014, 11, 91.


Academic Requirements

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above in their undergraduate degree or higher in a relevant subject, such as Chemistry, Physics, Electronic Engineering, Materials, Biochemistry or a related subject.

Residency Criteria

They should also be eligible for Home/UK Fees (see for more information)

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