Drug Delivery Systems and Gene Therapy

Professor Mary McNamara and Dr Orla Howe. Targeted drug delivery systems for cancer therapy.

One of the most important goals of pharmaceutical science is directing the pharmacological activity of the drug to the required site of action. Drug delivery systems (DDSs) are molecular tools which target a specific receptor without undesired interactions at other sites. Prof. McNamara is interested in the development of new materials, for example a folic acid conjugate, and the synthesis of novel targeted drug delivery systems for cancer therapy.


Dr James Curtin and Dr Jacinta Kelly. RNA Interference to modulate the immune system.

The immune system is a critical control point in cancer development. Dr. Curtin has developed an approach to silence expression of CTLA4, a receptor that regulates immune cell function. CTLA4 ordinarily protects against auto-immune diseases in normal, healthy people. However, activation of CTLA4 by cancer cells is believed to prevent the destruction of the cancer by our immune system. RNA gene therapy can be used to silence CTLA4 expression, pointing a way forward to target a number of solid tumours.


Dr Alan Casey. Noble metal nano-carrier enhanced therapeutics.

The research involves the development of effective nanoparticle-based drug delivery systems for treating cancer. Despite rapid advances in nano enabled chemotherapy, target delivery nanoparticle based chemotherapy is still a major challenge. This project seeks to utilise current knowledge of nanoparticle cellular interactions by employing cytotoxic, microscopic, techniques to exploit the mechanisms of nanoparticle uptake and associated sites of intracellular localisation to improve chemotherapeutic drug performance and minimise patient discomfort.

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