Drug delivery to the brain: interaction of the blood-brain barrier with 'smart' nanoparticles

Nanotechnology innovations have paved the way to novel therapeutic and diagnostic agents/carriers and tools in pharmaceutical and biomedical research. A challenging area of research, however, remains the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) disorders. Drugs for treatment of CNS disorders have to enter the brain in order to show a therapeutic effect, which can be accomplished by invasive and non-invasive methods. In the latter case, the compound has to be able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), an obstacle which limits the application of numerous treatments. To overcome this issue, (polymeric) nanomaterial-mediated CNS delivery has been proven to be a suitable strategy. Careful design of drugs and carriers is a prerequisite for the development of novel therapeutic methods and the successful treatment of, for example neurodegenerative diseases.

The ultimate aim of this project is the design of ‘smart’ nanomaterials, in particular nanoparticles which have the potential to interact with and/or cross the BBB for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis. In this context, a number of projects are available for highly motivated students with an interest in interdisciplinary research. All projects will allow the students to gain a diverse set of skills in the areas of polymer synthesis, material testing, particle formulations, BBB cell cultures, cell imaging etc.

The projects can be tailored to the specific interests of the students. Funding for the continuation into a PhD is available. The involvement of the team in the Monash-Warwick alliance and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science & Technology provides further opportunities for high achieving students.