Leeds Microbubble Consortium

Search site


Physics & Astronomy

Hydrophobic Drug Delivery

1st April 2013 to 31st March 2016

This project is focused around the research of Microbubbles for Hydrophobic Drug Delivery and Enhanced Diagnostics. This will be used for personalised healthcare for the treatment of Colorectal Cancer, commonly referred to as Bowel Cancer. Professor Steve Evans, University of Leeds, School of Physics and Astronomy is leading the project.

Engineering Therapeutic Microbubbles

EPSRC funded -  Sept 2010 - Feb 2014

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.