Nanoparticles in Cancer
Our research focuses on the use of nanoparticles in cancer for therapy, imaging or drug delivery.
WHAT WE DO
Our research focuses on the use of nanoparticles in cancer for therapy, imaging or drug delivery. The small size of nanoparticles means that they can passively accumulate in tumours due to the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR) effect. The EPR effect is the property by which certain sizes of molecules accumulate more in tumour tissues than in normal tissues. This occurs because newly formed tumour blood vessels are abnormal in form and architecture, and have poorly-aligned endothelial cells with wide fenestrations through which the molecules can pass. Furthermore, tumour tissues lack efficient lymphatic drainage.
Encapsulation of chemotherapy drugs within nanoparticles therefore enables them to be delivered directly to the site of the tumour, reducing systemic side effects, and enabling a higher dose to be reached in the cancerous tissue. Fluorophores and reporter molecules can be added to the nanoparticles for localization, and assessment of the efficacy of the treatment. Microparticle systems have also been developed for chemoembolization, in which the blood supply to the tumour is blocked causing the cancerous tissue to die. Other nanoparticles have also been developed which can be used to enhance the effect of conventional radiotherapy. Together with Isis Innovation we are working to commercialize this technology through the spinout Xerion Healthcare. Xerion will bring to market the technology that uses nanoparticles for cancer therapy. Their tiny size enables chemotherapy drugs to be delivered directly to a tumour, reducing the harm done to the rest of the body. The nanoparticles can also be used to increase the efficiency of radiotherapy. Read more
Ways in which nanoparticles can help in the fight against cancer are also discussed in a recent Guardian article here
In addition to cancer treatments, nanoparticles are useful for many other applications and we have collaborated with groups working, for example, on the use of nanoparticles to combat infertility and for smart biocide delivery to specifically target harmful bacteria.