Personalised nanomedicine for cancer therapy

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Chemistry


After decades of research, cancer is still one of the top killers responsible for almost 15% of the total death worldwide per year. One of the most critical limitation for cancer therapy is our inability to direct anticancer drugs to cancerous cells maximising killing and minimising side effects (often worse than the disease itself). This is due to the fact that cancer cells are the same healthy cells gone wrong and hence share many similarities with the good cells complicating detection and targeting. I propose here the engineering of ultra-small carriers (as small as a virus and 100 times smaller than cancer cells) that will be equipped with unique chemical signature to target almost exclusively cancer cells. These nanocarriers will also be able to carry a lot of drugs and deliver them right inside the cells where the drug is most effective. Once their job is done, the material that makes the carrier is dissolved into the same nutrients used by our body. Most importantly we will design nanocarriers using patient-derived tissues so to create a fully personalised targeting profile as well as a personalised drug dosage.

Planned Impact

This proposal will directly tackle a major challenge currently unmet in the clinic with an entirely new way to produce drug excipients. The impact on several clinical settings can be enormous if the herein proposed research proves successful. Besides cancer and infections also neurodegenerative diseases and immunological disorders could be tackled. Mainly due to the biodegradability of materials suggested, the outcomes can transform medicine to administer drugs far more efficiently than today with all the excipients being completely degradable and vanishing traceless from the body. Nanotechnology as a whole is facing big expectations from the general public in terms of revolutionising healthcare for all people, but besides the challenge this is also a great driving force for us and motivates us to get engaged with the general public to discuss fears and expectations.
This proposal outlines research for an entirely new way to design nanoscopic drug carriers whilst using established models of carrier formation. This combination promises successful carrier formation with clinical trials to be able to follow soon. We have already gained a good track record of commercialisation with the two commercial products spun out from GB research with one commercialised by in Biocompatibles Int. plc (see and one commercialised by Polyscience Inc (Nile Blue Monomers). We have been successful to create a strong network of industrial collaborations that now and in the past have worked closely with us to develop new delivery systems including MitoStem, Reckitt Benkiser, Biocompatibles Int. (now part of BTG International group companies), Vectura and Astra Zeneca. We have also started several collaborations with MedImmune, Avacta, and Novartis to further expand our technology transfer activities. In addition to this, we are in the final stages of drafting a business plan for a UCL-based spin-off company that will commercialise our technology for cell reagents, drug discovery tool, and several applications in clinical science with our initial focus into topical administration of anticancer drugs. This effort will bode well for future translation and indeed the research proposed herein will both spouse and support these commercialisation activities.


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Description We have developed a new method to target specific cells types using a combination of low-affinity ligands
Exploitation Route We are now translating part of technology for a spin out company
Sectors Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Part of the findings contributed to the setting up a new spin out company that has now licensed the patent on phenotypic targeting developed within the award.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology
Impact Types Economic