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Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology

Cancer Research UK Early Detection Primer Award

Dr Ljiljana Fruk has received a Cancer Research UK Early Detection Primer Award worth £100 K.

CEB lecturer and lead PI of the BioNano Engineering Group, Dr Ljiljana Fruk, has received a Cancer Research UK Early Detection Primer Award.

The Cancer Research UK Early Detection Primer Award supports researchers at all stages to develop early, novel and outside-the-box ideas and collaborations to build and make progress in the Early Detection field.

In the Bionano Engineering group Ljiljana and her team use expertise from different research areas such as synthetic chemistry, material science, molecular biology, physics and analytical sciences to design our sensing devices and hybrid materials for artificial enzymes and artificial tissue design. They work towards applications and continue developing new molecules (linkers, light sensitive molecules), nanostructured elements ( nanoparticles, bio-nano hybrids) and tools (direct laser writing strategies, bioconjugation methods). 

The Award will provide £100 k funding for a postdoctoral researcher for one year to work on her proposed project  'Poly-Dopamine Based Nano-Senolytics For Specific Removal Of Senescent Cells' to help her group work on a biocompatible nanosystem for removal of senescent cells implicated in cancer formation. They are often considered a first stage of cancer and their detection and removal could prevent cancer development.

The implications and impact of her work are far-reaching. She commented; "We are excited about the award because we believe that biopolymer, poly dopamine-based nanocarriers can be the materials that will enable not only the detection of senescent cells, but also their removal. Senescent cells are naturally formed in the process of ageing, but too many of them can lead to infections and cancer development. We will collaborate with Daniel Munoz Espin from Department of Oncology, who is expert on senescent cells, to develop dopamine-based nanocarriers, which signal the presence of these cells and then release the drugs aimed at their removal. This will require lots of nano-engineering, but we have done some preliminary studies on poly-dopamine already and the next step will be to make it  more “intelligent” to seek and destroy the target. In general, our group tries to develop nature-inspired materials and green-chemistry  synthetic protocols, and we are glad that we can now take these materials from the lab bench into biological systems and hopefully, in the near future, into a clinical applications."


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