Project Title: Structures and processes in a Quantum Rattle

Supervisors: Prof. Mike Finnis and Prof. Molly Stevens

Project description:

Engineering suitable drug delivery systems (DDS) is crucial to ameliorate the current state of cancer treatment. The ideal DDS would  reduce the severe secondary effects of chemotherapy by safely encapsulating the drug in its interior and only releasing it in respond to a specific stimulus once it has reached the target cells. It would thus enable a greater efficiency as well as enabling the transport of insoluble drugs. The development of nanotechnology is offering the possibility to consider all these objectives.[1].
Out of the many materials currently explored, mesoporous silica (MS) particles offer excellent biocompatibility, degradability and versatility.[2] The Stevens' Group at Imperial is studying a nanoparticle termed a "Quantum Rattle". [3] The name comes from its structure: a hollow MS sphere with gold nanoparticles in its cavity. Additionally, this quantum rattle has a mesoporous shell which contains gold quantum dots (particles sufficiently small as to have discrete energy levels and absorb NIR radiation). Hence it is capable of delivering  photo-thermal treatment as well as chemotherapy, and offers the possibility of engineering a thermal stimulated drug release. In terms of its performance as a DDS the presence of the gold  enables a better drug uptake, loading efficiency and release profile. [3]

During my PhD I will be developing a mathematical model to describe the drug uptake and release from these nanoparticles. The model will be fitted and tested with experimental data from the Stevens' Group and additional information will be sought from lower length-scales such as MD in collaboration with RMIT University. The model will help determine the criteria to design new systems. "

[1] "Engineered Nanoparticles for Drug Delivery in Cancer Therapy" T.Sun, Y. S. Zhang, B. Pang, D.C. Hyun, M. Yang, Y. Xia  Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 12320 – 12364
[2] "Mesoporous silica nanoparticle based nano drug delivery systems: synthesis controlled drug release and delivery, pharmacokinetics and biocompatibility" Q. He and J. Shi J.Mater.Chem, 2011,21, 5845
[3] “Gold-Silica Quantum Rattles for Cancer Therapy and Diagnosis” Mathew Thomas Hembury, PhD Thesis (2012) Department of Materials, Imperial College London.