DD02: Development and characterisation of liposome-loaded biosynthetic hydrogels for wound management applications

Supervisory Team

Dr Claire Martin and Professor Stephen Britland, School of Pharmacy

Project Description

Wound healing is a complex cascading event involving cellular, enzymatic and biochemical pathways, spanning from the time the skin is damaged until the wound is completely healed. Maintenance of healthy wound site homeostasis is thus important to maximize wound healing capacity, especially in immunocompromised patients or those with underlying chronic health conditions. Generally, wound healing follows this sequence but, being non-linear, the stages may move forwards and backwards, based on intrinsic and extrinsic factors as well as the severity of the wound. The rate of wound healing differs between individuals and is influenced by factors such as type and depth of wound, age, nutrition, immune status, underlying health conditions as well as local microbial burden. Microbial infection in particular retards wound healing by increasing the bio-burden at wound sites, thus stalling the normal process at the inflammatory phase.

Hydrogels are water-rich, malleable materials that can absorb excess wound fluids while releasing medicinal agents, such as antimicrobials and those that promote wound healing. Hydrogels dressings can be formulated to provide controlled, targeted release of antimicrobial agents which is facilitated by bioadhesive, stimuli (wound)-responsive characteristics. Liposomes are spherical, lipid bilayer vesicles with a large aqueous inner-core for encapsulation and delivery of active agents. They can be composed of synthetic and/or natural phospholipids (e.g. phosphatidylcholine, PC); membrane stabilizers such as sterol (e.g. cholesterol), proteins and lipid polymer conjugates can also be formulated into liposomes. Liposomes can be tailored for site-specific delivery, for example, surface modifications by covalently binding polymers or attaching proteins, create liposomes that can be targeted to specific tissues or surfaces. The capacity to transport both hydrophilic and hydrophobic materials, has allowed a wide range of pharmaceutical formulations to be incorporated into liposome vesicles. Liposome encapsulation allows the potential of a controlled release delivery system to achieve effective drug delivery whilst reducing problems related to targeted delivery, biodistribution and bioavailability of agents, especially when administering cytotoxic agents.

The combination of wound-responsive, moisture promoting hydrogels with liposomes which can solubilise and deliver a range of hydrophobic & hydrophilic agents may improve treatment of infected wounds and speed up the healing process. To this end, a systematic pharmaceutical investigation of liposomes, hydrogels and liposome-loaded hydrogels will be conducted, encompassing (but not limited to) unloaded and loaded hydrogel stability, rheology, encapsulation efficiency, particle size and polydispersity, drug release and associated mathematical models, as well as assessment of cell viability and cytotoxicity.

The successful candidate will be trained in a range of advanced techniques used in the preparation of hydrogels and develop skills in microbiology. Laboratory work and characterization will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s new Science Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this multidisciplinary project.

Eligibility

We welcome applications at any time from self-funded students that are well qualified and highly motivated. Applicants should have a recognized Honours or Masters degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in pharmacy, pharmaceutical science or biomedical science, (or a related field).

Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speaker of English shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent.

How to apply

Complete the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 679k) and email to RIHS@wlv.ac.uk.

See Guidance for the Completion of the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 23k) for details.

For more information

For an informal discussion please contact via direct email to Dr Claire Martin C.Martin@wlv.ac.uk