Atmospheric pressure plasma assisted synthesis of multi-functional bionanocomposites

Lead Research Organisation: Queen's University of Belfast
Department Name: Sch Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Abstract

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The total economic cost of cancer in the EU was more than £99 billion in 2009 [1] and the cost of diagnosing and treating cancer in the UK is expected to reach £15.3 billion by 2021 [2]. Conventional cancer surgery treatment suffers from various complications such as pain, damage to nearby tissues and possible thrombosis. Other common cancer therapies, such as chemotherapy, have the limitation of drug resistance, lack of selectivity, and lack of solubility. Given these issues associated with treatment safety and effectiveness, scientists are applying tremendous efforts towards new approaches in the fight against cancer. The use of nanotechnology in cancer treatment offers some exciting possibilities.

The proposed research involves innovation and collaboration among cross-disciplinary experts (materials science, physics and cancer research) to resolve some of the major challenges in the application of nanotechnology to cancer. The PI proposes to develop a novel technology that allows incorporation of magnetic nanoparticles (NP) into a hydrogel without using toxic chemicals or surfactants, while ensuring the NP dispersion and stability. The resulting material will be an injectable "smart" system useful for certain cancer treatment, with multiple functions including 1) controlled drug delivery 2) inducing heat under an externally applied magnetic field and 3) facilitating bio-imaging.

[1] Luengo-Fernandez, R., et al., Economic burden of cancer across the European Union: a population-based cost analysis. The Lancet Oncology, 2013. 14(12): p. 1165-1174.
[2] Bupa Cancer diagnosis and treatment: a 2021 projection.

Planned Impact

The PI and project partners have an established network of academic beneficiaries which will facilitate knowledge exchange through collaborations and in a range of disciplines beyond nanocomposites that include plasma science, biomaterials & biomedical devices and cancer treatment. Collaboration with project partners are integral components of this proposal and will directly contribute to advancement of our understanding of plasma assisted synthesis of functional nanocomposites. In order to reach out to a wider audience, dissemination plans has been laid out for; publications, participation to conferences, organization of seminar/outreach events as well as promoting the project through online media.

The project team will also actively seek engagement with charities, academic researchers, manufacturers of specialised biomedical materials/devices, and potential end-users in the biomedical and plasma technology, energy, and transport. This networking will aim to form the basis for future collaborations on research projects targeting more focused, application specific outcomes (i.e. large-scale industrial production of nanocomposite materials, multi-functional nanocomposites: e.g. conductive composites for light striking prevention).

The research activities promote collaborations with overseas institutions (e.g. China) will greatly contribute to the international development with China hence enhancing the delivery of impacts. This will also contribute to the education of a globally engaged scientific and engineering workforce capable of performing in an international environment. For instance, the PI and project partners are currently engaged with their respective departments will provide opportunities to educate students (undergraduate and postgraduate levels) in advanced subjects such as biomaterials, advanced materials processing and nanotechnology, so that future workforce generations can be adequately prepared. The project will also enhance the technical, team working and project management skills of the PhD student and research staff involved. He/She will learn about the new challenges cross the disciplinary such as plasma physics, chemistry, nanomaterials/nanocomposite synthesis as well as biomedical and healthcare technology. He/She will have access to the university's commercialization and technology transfer expertise through the Enterprise Development Office. This will enhance their potential for collaboration with industry.

A successful outcome of the project will be to have paved the way for rapid technological exploitation for innovative manufacturing of novel nanocomposites with great potential in more effective multi-modal cancer treatments to help reduce the economic burden of the NHS system. At the appropriate time, a business case will be made to warrant a successful transition from a research based technology to an industrial reality. The translation of new technology resulting from this research to commercialisation and exploitation will be explored in consultation with the Commercial Development team within the Research and Enterprise Directorate at Queen's. The training and development of a highly skilled and educated workforce in important technological sectors will also contribute to an economic impact: the PhD students and postdoctoral researcher will become skilled experts in advanced nanomaterials/functional materials and will be in an ideal position to begin their own research career or contribute in an industrial environment.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description We have established an new method of making polymer nanocomposites through the interaction between low temperature plasma and liquid under atmospheric pressure. More specifically, we achieved one-pot synthesis of composite materials which incorporate magnetic nanoparticles in a polymer that is responsive to temperature. The new approach eliminated the use of harsh chemicals or capping agents that are normally required for making magnetic nanocomposite using conventional methods, and the materials obtained demonstrated multi-functional properties that may be exploited for biomedical applications
Exploitation Route The platform technology established in the present project can be generalised for a wide range of material systems suitable for various applications. The findings can be taken forward by researchers from different fields, including Energy (nano-catalysts), Environment (water treatment/purification), healthcare (drug delivery, bio-imaging and sensing) and will be of great interests to sectors in relation to nanomaterials manufacturing.
Sectors Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

 
Description The research findings have been presented at a number of outreach events, including open days, recruitment events and school visits, etc, working together with the SWAN team within the school. Through these events, we have successfully disseminated our research outcomes to the general public, promoted STEM subjects, particular to young children. These activities enhanced the general public's knowledge and understanding of nanomaterials and their potential application in healthcare sector. We have also gauged significant interest from young children, particular females, who may potentially choose to study science and engineering in future.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Education
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Prof Paul Maguire, Prof Davide Mariottir 
Organisation Ulster University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our research team has contributed in the successful synthesis of inorganic nano-particles in situ in a polymer through low temperature atmospheric pressure plasma.
Collaborator Contribution The partners has contributed to the plasma instrumentation and process optimisation of the synthesis process
Impact This is multi-disciplinary collaboration bringing together experts from Materials Science, Nanotechnology, Chemistry, Plasma physics and biomaterials applications.
Start Year 2016
 
Description A talk given at the 28th Annual Conference of the European Society for Biomaterials 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A talk will be given at the conference, to provide an update on the recent development/progress in the project. Raise the awareness of the audience from other field (biomaterials, cancer research etc) the impact of novel plasma technology.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description An invited speech at the British Chinese Doctoral Forum organised by Chinese students and scholars association UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact over 50 people attended the forum, the attendees were mostly PhD students from various subject areas including social science (e.g., language studies, laws), engineering & physical sciences (e.g., Physics, chemistry, pharmacy, mechanical/electrical/civil engineering etc). There were also general public attended the talk. The audiences were extremely intrigued by the topic and discussions continued after the seminar. The outreach activity has significantly raised the awareness of people from outside the peer group on the topic of nanomaterials for bioapplications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Oral presentation at the 24th Annual Conference of the Chinese Society of Chemical Science and Technology in the UK 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A talk has been given to disseminate the recent progress of the project and gauge interest from wide audience from other subject fields and initiate future multi-disciplinary collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://cscst.org/Conference2017/
 
Description Oral presentation at the International Conference on Plasmas with Liquids (ICPL 2017), Prague, Czech Republic 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation has been at the conference with more than 130 researchers from the 32 countries from all over the world attended the conference. The talk has covered the novel application of plasma for biomaterials synthesis. The talk has raised awareness of researchers from other disciplines (physics, chemists, etc) of the novel materials science and bio-application aspects of the project. Several researchers from other countries (e.g. Romanian) has expressed interest in future potential collaborations.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.icpl.cz/index.html
 
Description Poster presentation at the 2nd International workshop on Nanomaterials in Health / Medicine, University of Central Lancashire 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Over 50 people attended the Nanomedicine workshop,to present and share the findings of the state-of-the art research outcome in the field of nanomaterials for healthcare and medicine. The event has a strong focus on practical applications and industrial involvement. Posters were judged by panels consisting of established professors in the field as well as industrialists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Primary school visits Belfast 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Two primary school visits have been made in March 2018, with the aim of promoting STEM subjects to the general public, particularly young school pupils. The novel materials created from this project has been brought to the school along with other Biomedical related displays, to disseminate the research activities within Queen's. These visits have received huge interest from the pupils and their teachers/headmasters, and the school has provided very positive feedback towards these visits and reported increased interest in the related subject area. The schools also requested the involvement of similar future events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description School outreach activities (St Brides Primary School) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact The PI organised an visit to St Bride's Primary school to show case her research related activities. The event has attracted great interest from P7 pupils and teachers attending (130), raised the awareness of younger generation the importance of novel nanomaterials, composites and novel science & engineering technologies. The school reported increased interest in related subject areas and welcome future visits.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk at the MATCH dissemimation event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A talk has been given at the Material and Advanced Technologies for Healthcare (MATCH) Showcase Event to showcase the research activities carried out under this project at Queen's. MATCH brings together expertise in pharmaceutical science with complementary strengths in chemistry, materials, engineering and biology, and has the three parallel visions of Creating Smarter Materials, Developing Future Therapies, and Optimising Treatment and Community Health. About 100 participants, including colleagues/students from across the university, as well as representatives from local healthcare industries, have attended this event. The talk received immediate interest from the colleagues from School of Pharmacy and School of Physics and Mathematical Sciences and future collaboration has been planned.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Visit and invited talk at the China Medical University 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A talk have been give at the CHINA MEDICAL UNIVERSITY - QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY BELFAST JOINT COLLEGE symposium. The intended purpose is to disseminate our research outcome to wider audience including medical doctors /researchers, pharmaceutical researchers and related industry sectors. Over 100 delegates have attended this symposium. The talk has gauged interests from various researchers/practitioners in the medical field, and a visit has been arranged to Shenjing Hospital in Shenyang, China, for follow up the discussion on potential applications.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017