Ordered Nanoporous Particles for Precision Drug Delivery
Research Leads: Professor Ajayan Vinu and Associate Professor Ajay Karakoti
Associated research centre: Global Innovative Centre for Advanced and Emerging Nanomaterials
Current cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy are problematic because they are non-specific i.e. they cannot differentiate cancer cells from normal cells in the body. In the case of chemotherapy, for example, this results in a whole range of side-effects; from low red and white blood cell counts, to hair loss, to nausea, fatigue and loss of appetite. The impact of these side-effects can be so extreme that some cancer patients will decide to discontinue the therapy, even though it still has the potential to treat their cancer.
Researchers A/Prof Ajay Karakoti and Prof. Ajayan Vinu from the University of Newcastle’s Global Innovation Centre for Advanced and Emerging Nanomaterials are working on nanomaterials solutions for precision drug delivery that could revolutionise cancer treatment. Working with nanoporous materials, they are engineering sophisticated nanoscale drug carriers that will carry receptors on their surfaces so that drugs can detect the cancer and determine exactly where to go and which cells to kill. This precision drug delivery solution would alleviate drug side effects and allow patients to access to full the potential of a treatment.
Taking the solution a step further, they are also working to develop carriers that can deliver multiple drugs including chemotherapeutic and immunotherapy agents. The carriers will have ‘compartments’ for different drugs and will be sophisticated enough to release them at different times and rates. The carriers will effectively know when, how and where to release the drugs to kill cancer cells.