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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R04192X/1
Title: Nanoparticle imaging method for drug discovery and cancer therapy in humans
Principal Investigator: Bayford, Professor R
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Faculty of Science & Technology
Organisation: Middlesex University
Scheme: Standard Research - NR1
Starts: 26 March 2018 Ends: 25 June 2019 Value (£): 247,474
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Drug Formulation & Delivery
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Healthcare
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
A novel nanoparticle imaging method for drug discovery and cancer therapy in humans will be created based on the combination of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) as contrast agent, activated with radio-frequency (RF) and imaged with electrical impedance tomography (EIT). This would use the advantage that EIT is very sensitive to impedance change due to temperature changes from the RF activation of the AuNPs. It would have the potential to replace positron emission tomography (PET) imaging with the advantage of no ionising radiation, lower cost and the high temporal resolution of EIT. This would have a wider range of applications including tracking nanoparticles used to target cancer cells and drug discovery. Key to their use is the ability to target the desired cells for therapy; at present transmission electron microscopy (TEM) or photo-thermic microscopes can be used to image them on cell lines or in some case samples removed from the patient but not in vivo. Technology like PET uses ionising radiation and MRI does not use AuNPs, as they are paramagnetic and would require many images to track the particles, which would not be cost effective. The new imaging technology could also be combined with radiotherapy to confirm the location of the AuNPs. Researchers have investigated the concept of kilovoltage radiosurgery with AuNPs for AMD (Age-related Macular Degeneration). They concluded that a prescribed dose of x-ray radiation could be delivered using almost half of the radiation when compared to a treatment without AuNPs allowing reduction of the dose delivered to the neighbouring organs such as the retinal/optic nerve by 49%.

Nanoparticles have been suggested for a range of clinical applications, including as contrast agents, for drug delivery and for treatment or therapy. Nanoparticles may be delivered to the patient by injection, by ingestion or by topical application to the skin, for example. Nanoparticles are constructed to perform a function in the body, for example to reach a particular target in the body such as an organ or a tumour. Once at the target, the nanoparticles may deliver a payload or play a role in some other function such as imaging or therapy. Thus, for example, if the nanoparticle is to target a tumour, cancer biomarkers may be attached to the scaffold core. Alternatively, antibodies to specific bacteria may be attached to the NPs in order to detect sepsis.

The ability to track drug delivery by attaching a nanoparticle in the human body or using AuNPs to kill cancer cells would transform cancer treatment and other conditions, for example, if cancer metastasises then AuNPs could prove a method of destroying cancer cells. Many drugs, even those discovered using the most advanced molecular biology strategies, have unacceptable side effects due to the drug interacting with healthy tissues that are not the target of the drug. The goal of a targeted drug delivery system is to prolong, localize and target however roughly 99% of the drugs administered do not reach the target site. Side effects limit our ability to design optimal medications for many diseases such as cancer, neurodegenerative diseases, and infectious diseases. Also at present technologies to track drugs use mass spectroscopy and animal experiments requiring large scale computing to provide only one image of the accumulation of the drug. The novel approach proposed in this would revolutionise this and could provide hundreds of images a second if needed. This project has considerable potential to optimise targeting.

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Organisation Website: http://www.mdx.ac.uk