University of Nottingham
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 Novel materials for drug delivery


Samples of new drugs

From biocompatible polymers, to spider silk our scientists and engineers are developing new materials to deliver drugs into the body, with precision and with controlled release of the therapeutics. Our research includes:

Targeted therapeutics for cancer


Anna grabowska looking at cancer cells

As part of our £6.5m EPSRC Programme Grant in Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery, we are focussing on chemistries for new self-assembling delivery vehicles, and formulation of new particulates with enhanced drug compatibility using structure-informed nanoparticle libraries.

We are synthesising polymers to direct drugs to specific regions where a tumour is present rather than systemic drug delivery.These self-assembling delivery vehicles can better target the tumour site.

A particular focus is in the targeting and delivery of complex anti-cancer therapeutics, and innovative antimicrobials, including anti-virulence agents in dynamic controlled matrices for new anti-resistance therapies. Potential applications focus around triple negative breast cancer which are not treatable by convential cancer medicines.

Experts: Cameron Alexander, Steve Howdle, Ruman Rahman, Anna Grabowska

Find out more about drug delivery in our EPSRC Next Generation Biomaterials Discovery


Injectable scaffolds for precision drug and cell delivery


Kevin Shakesheff - Locate Therapeutics

Our spin-out company Locate Therapeutics is a regenerative medicine product development company which has developed TAOS™ (Targeted Orchestrated Signalling
matrix); a patented polymer technology that suppports tissue growth and has multiple medical applications.

The TAOS™ matrix system is a world-first in tissue repair. It is a unique regenerative medicine platform that provides an optimal structure to support tissue repair, and can precisely accommodate and promote the actions of locally-applied drugs, and emergent biological and cell-based therapies.

TAOS’ injectable particulate formulation is thermally-triggered to solidify into a space-filling open porous depot that supports tissue repair before degrading away. Locate has additional complementary technologies in cell therapy bioprocessing (TAOS-M for trypsin-free 3D cell culture) and intracellular delivery (IntraStem high-performance carrier peptide).

Expert: Kevin Shakesheff

Read more about the capabilities of TAOSTM  by Locate Therapeutics


 Bone tissue regeneration for osteoporosis


porous microspheres

We are developing minimally invasive bone tissue regeneration for prophylactic treatment of osteoporosis, using bioresorbable spheres.  By targeting at-risk areas prone to fracture (eg hip and spine), we can help to prevent fractures through this prophylactic treatment.

The highly porous bioresorbable spheres are made of calcium phosphate, which is the same make-up as bone. Filling the spheres with the body’s own stem cells, the calcium phosphates degrade leaving the stem cells to regenerate the patient’s bone.  Following £1.2m NIHR funding, we are now looking towards pre-clinical trials for this exciting technology.

Expert: Ifty Ahmed

Read more about bone tissue regeneration  


Corneal repair


Eye - from

NuVision Biotherapies

We have developed a regenerative therapy made from human amniotic membrane, the waste product of birth, which is already being used by ophthalmologists as a sight-saving would healing treatment in the NHS and in veterinary practices in the UK, and by clinicians internationally.

The unique biological dressing ‘Omnigen’ can be used as would healing treatment for ophthalmic diseases and wounds including abrasions, ulcers, chemical burns and more serious perforations through planned operations on the eye.

The latest innovation is a special contact lens, OmniLenz, which now allows application of Omnigen in the clinic without the need for complex and cost surgery.

Omnigen can be shipped and stored at room temperature and can be quickly and easily applied as easy as a contact lens.  When applied, the natural moisture in the eye works to rehydrate the patch and immediately delivers pain reduction and antibacterial capability whilst healing the eye.  Omnigen can remain in the eye as a type of scaffold on to which eye cells can grow as the organ heals, or can be removed once the wound healing process has been achieved.

The wound healing benefits of Omnigen are now being explored in the treatment of other soft tissue wounds. A clinical trial has recently started with Derby hospital exploring the treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers with Omnigen as a wound healing graft for non-healing wounds.

This technology has been commercialised by spin-out company  NuVision Biotherapies. Read more about Omingen's healing capabilities

Experts: Andy Hopkinson, Harminder Dua



Using spider silk to support tissue growth


Examining a spider

We generate spider silk in E. coli that can be used to generate fibres, hydrogels or films. Using un-natural amino acid mutagenesis we can introduce amino acids that have very selective reactivity into the silk proteins allowing ligands to be site-specifically attached using a variety of ‘click’ chemistry reactions.

These can then be modified with drugs, imaging agents or other ligands to add new properties to the silk including making antibacterial silks and silks that can be used as temporary scaffolds to support mammalian tissue growth. We are exploring its application in wound healing.

Experts: Neil Thomas, Sara Goodacre, Lisa White