Capabilities and research platforms
Analytical laboratory methods View
A strong feature of the research performed by the Drug Delivery, Disposition and Dynamics (D4) theme is our use of a wide range of in-house state-of-the-art analytical methods. Some of our analytical equipment is available to users through the official Monash University platforms and many other instruments may be available by way of collaborative research projects with our research leaders.
Biopharmaceutics and pharmacokinetics View
In order for a medicine or drug to be safe and effective, it must be absorbed into the body and reach its target site at the correct time and in adequate concentrations to achieve a desired effect, whilst minimising access to off-target sites of toxicity.
Biopharmaceutics studies the relationship between the physical and chemical properties of the drug, its formulation, and the route of administration on the rate and extent of absorption into the body. Once a drug is absorbed into the body it will distribute to tissues and be eliminated from the blood (e.g., via metabolism in the liver or excretion by the kidney).
Pharmacokinetics is a branch of science in which the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion (ADME) of drugs is characterised and mathematically modelled.
We use a range of in silico, in vitro and in vivo techniques to characterise the biopharmaceutics and pharmacokinetics of drugs. We regularly characterise the physicochemical properties of drug candidates, such as solubility, partitioning, ionisation and stability. We routinely measure drug permeability in vitro and in situ, as well. This helps inform the delivery and formulation approaches to overcome issues that lead to low drug absorption, such as poor water solubility or intestinal permeability.
Protein engineering and expression View
We have expertise in the engineering, expressing and purifying proteins. We have expression and purification facilities that can produce both bacterial and mammalian proteins at scales ranging from sub-milligrams to hundreds of milligrams. We work closely with industry partners such as Starpharma Ltd in the production of novel proteins to target nanomedicines to specific cells.
We have a particular interest in engineering additional functions into proteins. We do this by using an expanded genetic code to incorporate synthetic amino acids into precise positions within the protein. Redundancy in the genetic code means that 64 codons code for only 20 amino acids. We exploit this redundancy to incorporate synthetic amino acids with unique functional groups (such as click-reactive groups) that allow us to control the activity and reactivity of the proteins.
Stem cell technology View
Pluripotent stem cell (PSC) technology is of considerable importance to improve the process of drug discovery and also in development of therapeutic interventions that involve direct implantation of healthy cells into the human body.
PSCs such as embryonic stem cells can be directed to form any cell type in the human body. PSCs can now be derived directly from the skin or blood of adults, using the process of cellular reprogramming (the 2012 Nobel prize-winning technology) to produced ‘induced PSCs’ (iPSCs). Thus, in principle, it is now possible to obtain mature differentiated human cells of any type from individual patients with diseases of interest. To add to the power of iPSC technology, it is now possible to edit the genome of human cells to introduce disease-related mutations, as a means of building models of disease, and using these models to discover drugs that can overcome deficiencies caused by disease-related mutations.
Drug Delivery, Disposition and Dynamics hosts four research platforms: HMSTrust Analytical Laboratory, MIPS Imaging, FACS and Analysis Core (IFAC), Monash Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility (MPMF) and Monash Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC).
The HMSTrust Analytical Laboratory provides researchers from within and external to Monash with access to an extensive array of sophisticated chemical and physical characterisation techniques.
MIPS Imaging, FACS and Analysis Core (IFAC)
The MIPS Imaging, FACS and Analysis Core has state of the art microscope and flow cytometry instrumentation.
The Parkville Node of the Monash Proteomics and Metabolomics Facility provides metabolomics, lipidomics and proteomics capabilities based on Orbitrap high-resolution mass spectrometry.
The Monash Manufacturing Innovation Centre is a growth platform for Victoria’s manufacturing sector providing specialist analytical and formulation development services to create opportunities for innovation.
Our researchers often access the following research platforms to conduct our research.