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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I000623/1
Title: Engineering Therapeutic Microbubbles
Principal Investigator: Evans, Professor S
Other Investigators:
Bushby, Professor RJ Markham, Professor Sir AF Thomson, Dr NH
Freear, Professor S Coletta, Dr PL Evans, Dr J
Jones, Professor P
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Epigem Ltd Leeds and West Riding Medical Research Precision Acoustics Ltd
Weidlinger Associates Inc
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 September 2010 Ends: 28 February 2014 Value (£): 1,220,832
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Drug Formulation & Delivery Med.Instrument.Device& Equip.
Medical science & disease
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
16 Mar 2010 Healthcare Partnerships Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in the UK, with approximately 32,300 new cases diagnosed and 14,000 deaths in England and Wales each year. Occurrence of colorectal cancer is strongly related to age, with 83% of cases arising in people older than 60 years. It is anticipated that as our elderly population increases, CRC will increase in prevalence (National Institute for Clinical Excellence, www.nice.org.uk). This raises important questions relating to treatment in elderly patients balanced with quality-of-life and health economics considerations. The challenge to nanotechnology and engineering is to deliver cost-effective, less invasive treatments with fewer side-effects and potential benefits for quality of life in patients. This is particularly important in CRC at the present time as the NHS bowel-screening programme is rolled out for all individuals aged 60 to 69. This raises important issues for rapid, accurate, and acceptable, safe and cost-effective investigation and treatment of older symptomatic patients. Ultrasound has a clear and growing role in modern medicine and there is increasing demand for the introduction of ultrasound contrast agents such as microbubbles (MBs). These MBs are typically less than one hundredth of a millimetre in size, so that they can pass through the vasculature, and lead to imaging enhancements by scattering of the ultrasound signal. So-called third generation MBs will not only perform functional imaging with greatly enhanced sensitivity and specificity but will also carry therapeutic payloads for treatment or gene therapy. These will most likely be released by destroying the bubbles at the targeted site and their effect enhanced further by sonoporation (sound induced rupture of the cell walls to allow drugs in). Although the focus of our proposal is therapeutic delivery for cancer treatment, the basic technologies for MB development and ultrasound technology are equally applicable to other conditions e.g. cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease where there is an unmet clinical need, particularly in ageing populations. As such this is a generic technology development relevant to different diseases.Our programme of research addresses several key issues central for the successful development of these 3rd Generation MBs. Firstly, we propose to develop a machine, based on microfluidics, for the creation of MBs of uniform size (necessary for human application). This instrument will also allow us to put suitable coatings on the MBs to target them specifically at cancerous cells. Secondly, we will develop novel coatings to allow control over the way bubbles respond to ultrasound signals. We will then add payloads of the required drug to be delivered onto the micro-bubble surface. At the same time we will develop novel methods of generating ultrasound signals which can be used to selectively destroy the MBs and simultaneously create holes in the cells to which the drugs should be delivered. A necessary part of such a programme of research is the full testing and evaluation of the MBs developed for targeted therapy of CRC using a combination models. Firstly, against cancer cells grown in test tubes and secondly, against mice infected with the relevant cancer. At the conclusion of our research project we will have enhanced our understanding of how MB and ultrasound technologies can be combined to yield new routes for therapeutic delivery/gene therapy. This will provide a platform to launch the next stage of research, required before such an approach could be used clinically.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Project URL: http://microbubbles.leeds.ac.uk/
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.leeds.ac.uk