£5million for nanotechnology healthcare research

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UCL has won four grants worth a total of just over £5million from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to support research into large-scale integrated projects that exploit nanotechnology for healthcare purposes.
The projects will focus on using nanotechnologies –systems that function at the level of molecules – to advance knowledge and treatment of cancer, dementia and HIV.
The projects funded through the council’s ‘Nanoscience through Engineering to Application’ programme, which supports research that aims to develop nanotechnologies for the targeted delivery of therapeutic agents and for healthcare diagnostics.
The grant selection process included a public consultation, which prioritised projects that have a short-to medium term pay off; promote prevention rather than cure; promote patient control and agency; are affordable to healthcare systems; are reliable; target serious conditions; can be recovered from the body and build on strengths in UK expertise.
The projects are all due to start on 1 May 2009 and are scheduled to last for three years.
Research projects
Professor Quentin Pankhurst, the current Scientific Director of the Royal Institution and until recently the Deputy Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology has received £1,648,342 to lead a project investigating novel high-efficiency targeting agents that can treat locally metastatic cancers (cancers that spread out from a primary site in the body).
Dr Rachel McKendry (London Centre for Nanotechnology) won £1,636,554 to fund UCL’s role in a world-leading consortium to engineer and commercialise the next generation of multi-marker HIV smart chips, which will rapidly diagnose and monitor HIV in resource-limited environments such as district hospitals, GP surgeries and developing countries. This multidisciplinary joint venture, which is a collaboration with Imperial College London, will also involve the UCL/MRC Centre for Medical Molecular Virology, Royal Free and UCL Hospitals, the government-funded Comprehensive Biomedical Research Centre at UCLH NHS Trust, in conjunction with the Health Protection Agency and industrial partners as advisors.
Dr Stephen Hart (UCL Institute of Child Health) will lead a project with £1,391,287 of funding to develop nanotechnologies for the targeted delivery of novel therapies for Alzheimer's disease, the major cause of dementia in the elderly. This research is a collaboration involving King’s College London, the University of Bristol and Bristol NHS Trust.
Dr Andreas Demosthenous (UCL Electronic & Electrical Engineering) won £366,061 for UCL’s participation in research on new portable, non-invasive imaging methods that use low-level electrical measurements to detect colon cancer biomarkers (indicators of the disease). This project will be undertaken with Middlesex and City.
These four grants follow funding worth nearly half a million pounds received by Dr Ivan Parkin of UCL Chemistry in the 2008 round of nanotechnology funding from the EPSRC to research inexpensive, efficient and longlasting technology to capture energy from the sun.
Prof. Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) and co-investigator on the HIV project, said that the “…the award of such a large fraction of the EPRSC Nanotechnology for Healthcare funds to the LCN community in London represents an excellent return on its strategy of building on multidisciplinary competencies in London, spanning fields from basic physics through to clinical practice.”


Notes to editors

Contact details:
For more information, please contact Dr Thierry Bontoux at the London Centre for Nanotechnology on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 0056, e-mail: t.bontouxucl.ac.uk

The following image of a micro-cantilever array can be obtained by calling the London Centre for Nanotechnology on +44 (0)20 7679 0056 or by emailing t.bontoux@ucl.ac.uk. It is a schematic showing the interaction of the cantilevers with HIV markers in serum and was produced by Manuel Vögtli of the London Centre for Nanotechnology.

About the London Centre for Nanotechnology

The London Centre for Nanotechnology is a UK-based, multidisciplinary research centre forming the bridge between the physical and biomedical sciences. It was conceived from the outset with a management structure allowing for a clear focus on scientific excellence, exploitation and commercialisation. It brings together two world leaders in nanotechnology, namely University College London and Imperial College London, in a unique operating model that accesses the combined skills of multiple departments, including medicine, chemistry, physics, electrical and electronic engineering, biochemical engineering, materials and earth sciences, and two leading technology transfer offices.
The London Centre for Nanotechnology has a open access scheme for media to access information on research and technology.


About Imperial College London

Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 13,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.
Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve health in the UK and globally, tackle climate change and develop clean and sustainable sources of energy.



About University College London

Founded in 1826, UCL was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to admit students regardless of race, class, religion or gender, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. UCL is the seventh-ranked university in the 2008 THES-QS World University Rankings, and the third-ranked UK university in the 2008 league table of the top 500 world universities produced by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. UCL alumni include Marie Stopes, Jonathan Dimbleby, Lord Woolf, Alexander Graham Bell, and members of the band Coldplay. UCL currently has over 12,000 undergraduate and 8,000 postgraduate students. Its annual income is over £600 million.