Major EPSRC Programme Grant to Support New Oxford Centre for Drug Delivery Devices

Ultrasound delivery[Adapted from Carlisle et al., Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2013]

Cancer therapy drugs tend to achieve limited accumulation and poor penetration in tumours, reducing their effectiveness. For many years, the only methods used to improve drug uptake by tumours have been pharmacological, and these have had limited success.

Recent research at Oxford University has shown that physical mechanisms triggered by ultrasound, magnetic fields or shock waves can dramatically improve the delivery and penetration of existing and experimental drugs into tumours.

Now a new research centre, The Oxford Centre for Drug Delivery Devices (OxCD3), will look to exploit engineering approaches, involving a combination of stimulus-responsive nanocarriers and medical devices already in clinical use, to improve the therapeutic outcomes of drug-based cancer treatments.

The new centre will be based at the University of Oxford and has been made possible by a £10.1 million Programme Grant which includes £6.4 million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Led by Professors Coussios, Stride, Carlisle and Cleveland in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, OxCD3 represents a partnership between the Department of Engineering Science, the Department of Oncology (Professors Seymour, Sibson and Vallis), the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine (Professor Rabbitts), the Nuffield Department of Surgical Science (Professor Friend) and the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility (Dr Moyle).

The principal investigator, Professor Constantin Coussios, said:

We are very grateful to EPSRC, our industrial partners and the University of Oxford for their support of OxCD3. This will
 enable the creation of a sustainable, world-unique multi-disciplinary 
environment for combinational engineering of biology, chemistry and medical devices to improve drug delivery under a single roof. It is also expected to create a much-needed training environment for the next generation of young scientists working on combination therapies and biomedical nanotechnology, by providing direct exposure to regulatory and manufacturing issues encountered when translating laboratory research into production and clinical practice”.

The new Centre will initially focus on improving the delivery of several classes of cancer drugs, ranging from conventional chemotherapy and radiopharmaceuticals to next-generation antibodies, viruses and siRNA, from proof-of-concept laboratory studies to manufacture in preparation for clinical trials. The ultimate aim is to establish a centre of excellence for challenging drug delivery applications across a broad range of biological barriers and disease indications beyond cancer.