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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/P034063/1
Title: Nanoengineered microneedle arrays for enhanced plasmonic photothermal therapy of basal cell carcinoma.
Principal Investigator: Donnelly, Professor R
Other Investigators:
O'KANE, Dr D Coulter, Dr JA Bell, Professor SEJ
Mangwandi, Dr C
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Sch of Pharmacy
Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 October 2017 Ends: 30 September 2020 Value (£): 821,430
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Drug Formulation & Delivery Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
31 May 2017 HT Investigator-led Panel Meeting - May 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common cancer in the UK, affecting up to 39% of people at some stage in their lives. BCC is caused by skin exposure to ultraviolet radiation and, therefore, commonly affects the face. BCC is not typically fatal, as it does not metastasise to other parts of the body. However, it is locally destructive and, if not treated effectively, will invade through the skin and underlying tissues resulting in significant disfigurement, pain, ulceration, nerve damage and, potentially, loss of vision for patients with lesions around the eyes. It is estimated that 53,000 new cases are diagnosed in the UK each year. The mean cost to treat a single BCC lesion is currently around £1000. Our ageing population and ever-increasing exposure to ultraviolet radiation suggest that the incidence of BCC will continue to increase, so the estimated cost of management of BCC to the NHS is predicted to rise to around £97 million per year by 2020. Management of BCC by surgical excision can be curative in >95% of cases. However, surgery can cause unsightly scarring and ongoing pain, affecting patients' health-related-quality of life and self-esteem. Alternative treatment options are not particularly effective and are associated with numerous drawbacks.

Here, we will investigate a novel treatment based on tiny plastic needles containing microscopic, non-toxic, gold particles. These microneedle arrays will be designed to be inserted by hand into difficult-to-treat deep BCC tumours. Upon illumination with a special type of infrared light, the gold particles will heat up and this heat will diffuse from the tiny needles into the tumour, increasing its temperature enough to kill the cancer cells, but leaving the surrounding normal tissue unharmed. The microneedles containing the gold particles will then be removed intact from the skin, leaving nothing behind and the skin will heal up without scarring.

The technology developed here is unique and could potentially volutionise treatment of the most common type of skin cancer. It offers the opportunity for dramatically improved treatment, with potential benefits for both patients and the NHS. Ultimately, commercialisation of the technology will be the primary route by which UK industry, the NHS and patients will derive benefits. In order to attract potential industrial or venture-funding partners, it is vitally important to demonstrate proof of concept for this technology, which is the over-arching aim of the present proposal.

Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Organisation Website: http://www.qub.ac.uk