James Hitchcock

Research interests

Towards delivering chemotherapy drug payloads with no side effects:

Small cytotoxic drugs can have dramatic side effects on healthy tissues. Several encapsulation systems for targeted delivery have been proposed with some success for liposome/micelle or nanoparticle-based structures. However, such systems typically (1) cannot completely stop the drug leaching, which therefore still causes (albeit reduced) side effects and (2) only deliver low doses as the drug physical location limits their concentration within these systems. Consequently, a completely new approach is still required to ensure high drug concentration delivery without damaging healthy tissues. We have developed a novel method for permanently retaining small molecules within metallic-shell microcapsules (ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2015, 7, 14808) and recently also demonstrated activation of their burst release via ultrasounds using wavelengths suitable for delivery through human tissues. Adapting the current encapsulation technology to the delivery of highly cytotoxic drugs will provide systems with:

  • High drug loading capacity (95vol% of capsule core) far beyond what is currently possible;
  • Inert, easily functionalisable gold shells (with biocompatible polymers or biological conjugates) to enhance biocompatibility.

We are curretnly developing the use of these microcapsules to release high loadings of drugs in only very specific locations (identified in patients through MRI or PETScan imaging) of the body, thus enhancing cytotoxic drug efficacy while simultaneously drastically reducing/suppressing their side effects.

Qualifications

  • PhD in Particle Engineering
  • MSc in Nanotechnology
  • PGCE Science and Maths
  • BSc in Physics

Professional memberships

  • Associate Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
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