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Drug Delivery

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Main activities

The Drug Delivery theme is focused on several programmes involving the development of advanced drug delivery systems.

The HIV Prevention programme (Malcolm, Woolfson, Kett & Andrews) has established world-renowned expertise in vaginal drug delivery, including vaginal ring systems, for sustained/controlled delivery of HIV microbicides and vaccines. Research funding in excess of £5m has been received from a variety of international sponsors, including NIH, CONRAD, USAID, Program for Appropriate Technologies for Health (PATH), European Framework Programmes 6 and 7 (EMPRO, CHAARM, EURONEUT), The International Partnership for Microbicides, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the pharmaceutical industry.

In the Engineered Solid Dosage Form programme (Jones & Andrews), focus is on the application of fluidised hot melt granulation and polymer extrusion/injection moulding technologies to produce floating dosage forms, multi-layered drug delivery systems, targeted drug delivery systems and dosage systems in which the solubility of poorly soluble therapeutic agents is dramatically enhanced through stabilisation of the amorphous drug state.  Funding for this research has been received from the pharmaceutical industry and the Royal Society.

The Microneedles Research programme (Donnelly, Woolfson & Thakur) focuses on novel rapidly-dissolving and swelling polymeric microneedle arrays. Applications include transdermal delivery of small hydrophilic molecules and biopharmaceuticals, intradermal vaccine delivery and minimally-invasive therapeutic drug monitoring. The work has attracted significant funding from BBSRC, EPSRC, The Wellcome Trust, The Royal Society and the pharmaceutical industry and is a current focus for out-licensing opportunities.

Additional activities include the development of amorphous/freeze dried systems for stable formulation of bioactives (Kett & Malcolm), polymer-coated liposomes and nanoparticles for nasal/pulmonary/ophthalmic delivery (Kett) and the design, snythesis and formulation of injectable stimuli-responsive polymers for ocular drug delivery (Thakur).


Research highlights

The Drug Delivery group, in collaboration with the international pharmaceutical industry, governments and leading charities, aims to provide innovative and practical drug delivery concepts for optimisation of clinical outcomes. Key highlights include the pharmaceutical development of a microbicide-release vaginal ring product now in Phase 3 trials, the out-licensing of our drug delivery technologies and the development of products, including Ametop™ and Femring™.






Areas of expertise

  • advanced drug delivery systems
  • preformulation and formulation
  • sustained / controlled drug delivery
  • mucosal drug delivery / nasal, vaginal, sublingual
  • transdermal drug delivery / microneedles
  • polymer processing / extrusion / injection molding
  • ocular delivery
  • fluidised hot melt granulation
  • HIV microbicides
  • vaccine delivery systems
  • solubility enhancement of poorly water soluble drugs
  • amorphous and freeze-dried dosage forms
  • thermal analysis techniques
  • liposomes / nanoparticles
  • injectable, stimuli-responsove polymers