Aston University are presently working with a leading European biotech company, Diagenode, on an innovative four-year BBSRC CASE studentship that aims at using the Bioruptor® ultrasonicator to create a novel drug delivery system by combining liposomes with carbon nanotubes.
The project will combine the advanced knowledge of Diagenode in epigenetics, sonication devices and molecular biology, with Aston’s synergistic research specialisms in liposomes and carbon nanotubes, led by Professor Yvonne Perrie (Life and Health Sciences) and Dr Alex Rozhin (Aston‘s Institute of Photonic Technologies).
Of the drug delivery systems currently available, liposomes were the first to be classified as being able to act as immunological adjuvants (substances that are added to vaccines to help activate the immune system and stimulate a response that leads to long term protection). Liposomes are an ideal vaccine delivery system due to, amongst other properties, their ability to incorporate antigens, which are substances that cause the body to produce antibodies.
Professor Perrie's previous research has shown that electrostatic interactions can help to improve liposomes’ ability to support antigen loading, resulting in liposome formulations that are highly effective in delivering a range of adjuvants for TB, Hepatitis C and Malaria.
Aston has taken this research further by developing a dual radio-active labelling method to follow the biodistribution of both the liposomal adjuvant and antigen. However there have been limitations to these studies including the inability to follow the fate of fate of liposomal adjuvants and antigens in real time.
Consequently, this project will look to exploit single wall carbon nanotubes to follow the bio distribution of liposomal vaccines in real time. In addition the project will utilise different carbon nanotubes with differing fluorescent and raman spectroscopy signatures which will enable liposomes to be labelled and tracked. This will ultimately result in unique information on the correlation between the biological fate of adjuvants, antigens and their immune-efficacy.
Therefore this project will be highly influential to industry and academic scientists who currently utilise Diagenode’s Bioruptor® systems for the development of vaccine formulations and drug delivery systems. It will also enable Diagenode to benefit from the development and commercialization of carbon nanotube- liposome protocols for applications in other important areas such as molecular diagnostics.
Professor Yvonne Perrie, academic supervisor on this project, said: “This project represents a new and exciting collaboration between Aston University and Diagenode. The multi-disciplinary nature of this project will provide excellent training for the student as well as generating ground breaking results in liposome/carbon nanotube formulations”
Didier Allaer, CEO at Diagenode, said: “We see this collaboration as a real necessity for our business going forward as Aston’s advanced research in carbon nanomaterials and drug delivery is key to the development of new vaccine formulations as well as our work in vitro diagnostics.”
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