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PhD Studentship: Continuous Manufacturing of Nano-assemblies for mRNA Based Therapies and Vaccines

Loughborough University - Chemical Engineering

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Loughborough
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18662 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK rate.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 28th November 2023
Closes: 12th February 2024
 

Lipid-based nano-assemblies (LNC) are the key component of the recently developed Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. LNC have addressed key issues for mRNA transfection into target cells by improving the protection of mRNA from degradation in the extracellular compartments, as well as by facilitating cellular uptake and delivery to an appropriate intracellular compartment.

Entrapment of drug molecules with mRNA within the LNC hold tremendous potential for treating various diseases such as cancer, inflammation, and infectious diseases and in subsequent years there will be a huge increase in the number of new vaccines and immunotherapies that will use LNC. However, LNC have manufacturing-associated issues such as a lack of batch-to-batch reproducibility, lack of effective sterilization methods, stability problems, and most importantly, scale-up problems.

This PhD will explore the effects of micromixing in membrane systems to produce bespoke nano-assemblies (cubosomes-hexosomes-liposomes) suitable for mRNA encapsulation. Dialysis/solvent exchange will be added downstream. Suitable drying techniques (e.g. freeze drying) will be investigated to manufacture dry powders suitable for longer storage. Stability and mRNA transfection will be investigated with collaborators at Nottingham University.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

The studentship is for 3 years and provides a tax-free stipend of £18662 per annum plus tuition fees at the UK rate. Excellent International candidates are eligible for a full international fee waiver however due to UKRI funding rules, no more than 30% of the studentships funded by this grant can be awarded to International candidates.

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