Targeted drug delivery, imaging and therapy


Student project opportunities

Designing targeted nanoparticle delivery for diagnostic imaging of cancers

Research area:  Cancer- Nanotechnology- In vivo imaging
Chief supervisor:  Assistant Professor Juliana Hamzah
Other supervisors:  Professor Roger Price (Nuclear Medicine, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital), Dr Ramana Kotamraju (Sanford-Burnham Institute of Medical Research, California, USA)
Project suitable for:   Honours, PhD
Essential qualifications: background in chemistry/ biochemistry
Start date:  Any time.

Project outline
New ways to effectively detect the developing malignant cancers within inaccessible parts of our body are urgently needed. Effective strategies to diagnose cancer will greatly benefit from cell-specific delivery technologies. This proposed research will exploit our discovery of novel peptide ligands that bind specifically to solid tumours in vivo. The tumour-homing moieties in these peptides can penetrate inside tumours and bind to tumour blood vessels and inflammatory macrophages. Importantly, their homing to tumours is specific; these peptides are not taken up by normal tissues.  Hence, the goal of this project is to use these tumour-homing peptides to effectively deliver imaging contrast agents into solid tumours developed in mouse models (breast carcinoma, insulinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma).  Specifically, we will incorporate the blood vessel and inflammatory macrophage –binding peptides into nanoparticle formulation that carries contrast agents for positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluorescence imaging.  We expect that our research into tumour-targeted delivery will enhance diagnosis of cancers.

This project will offer training in multidisciplinary skill sets including:

  1. Peptide coupling and nanoparticle production
  2. The use of animal models of cancers (breast carcinoma, insulinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma)
  3. The application advanced imaging instruments including PET, MRI and confocal microscopy for in vivo imaging of cancer
  4. Immunohistochemistry and biochemical assays

Contact
Assistant Professor Juliana Hamzah - juliana.hamzah@perkins.uwa.edu.au


Developing recombinant proteins for tumour-specific delivery

Research area: Recombinant protein bioengineering, mouse tumour models, drug delivery analysis 
Chief supervisor:  Assistant Professor Juliana Hamzah
Project suitable for:  Honours, PhD
Essential qualifications: background in biology/molecular biology/immunology/pathology
Start date:  from January 2016

Project outline

New ways to effectively treat malignant cancers within inaccessible parts of our body are urgently needed. Effective strategies to deliver anti-cancer therapeutics will greatly benefit from cell-specific delivery technologies. This proposed research will exploit our discovery of novel peptide ligands that bind specifically to solid tumours in vivo. The tumour-homing moieties in these peptides can penetrate inside tumours and bind to tumour blood vessels, inflammatory macrophages and extracellular matrix. The peptide homing to tumours is specific; these peptides are not taken up by normal tissues. Importantly, our laboratory has successfully demonstrate that when coupled to other compounds, these peptides act as delivery agents, allowing specific tumour uptake of the fusion compounds following intravenous injection. Moreover, we show this peptide-mediated delivery approach reduces systemic toxicity associated with the native drugs. The fusion compounds have significant therapeutic use as anti-cancer reagents.

Specific training provided in this project:

  1.  Engineer immune-modulating proteins fused to our tumour-homing peptides (Technical training: cloning, protein expression, production and purification).
  2. Assess bioactivity of recombinant proteins (Technical training: cell culture, FACS analysis)
  3.  Evaluate in vivo tissue homing in mouse models developing insulinoma, breast carcinoma and/or hepatocellular carcinoma (Technical training: understanding of mouse tumour models, protein labelling & imaging, histology & fluorescence microscopy).
  4. Evaluate short-term and long term benefits of recombinant fusion proteins in tumour-bearing mice (for PhD candidate only; technical training: Therapeutic studies, advanced immunohistochemistry and histology analysis, microscopy and advanced tissue imaging analyses).

Contact
Assistant Professor Juliana Hamzah - juliana.hamzah@perkins.uwa.edu.au




 


Back To Top