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Controlling Drug Transport With Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology

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Insights into in vivo drug transport mechanisms and their control, using pharmaceutical nanotechnology, allow for the development of efficacious and safer medicines. Over the past two decades, we have designed self-assembling polymers and peptides from a variety of chemistries and used these new molecules to produce nano-enabled candidate medicines aimed at particular unmet clinical needs. Lately, we have focused on the design of pain medicine, in which the endogenous and metabolically labile peptide, enkephalin, is packaged in pharmaceutical nanoparticles and delivered to the brain; resulting in the candidate medicine – Envelta™. Envelta™ has a number of differentiating features and has been out-licensed for clinical development, in an effort to address the US opioid crisis, as prescription opioid use in the US is responsible for 15,000 deaths per annum. We have also developed nano-enabled ocular technologies, as drug delivery to ocular tissues is inefficient due to the very short ocular residence time (1-2 minutes) and eye drops cannot be used to target the back of the eye. Our nano-enabled eye drops deliver drugs to the retina and significantly enhance drug deposition into ocular tissues, with no plasma exposure. The use of eye drops to deliver drugs to the retina is unprecedented and could lead to more effective treatments for retinal diseases. One of these new candidate medicines will enter clinical development in 2021.

Other outputs from our laboratory include a biocompatible nasal spray that significantly inhibits respiratory viruses18 and a new diagnostic platform, which enables high-resolution imaging of the liver vasculature.

This talk is part of the SciSoc – Cambridge University Scientific Society series.

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