Skip to main content
School of Biological and Chemical Sciences

Self-assembled block copolymers as drug delivery systems for skin treatments

Supervisor: Prof. Marina Resmini

Project description

The medical application of nanotechnology is commonly defined as nanomedicine and it covers the science and technology of diagnosing, treating and more generally of preserving and improving human health, using molecular tools. This area has witnessed an incredible expansion, and it is forecasted to have a significant impact on the economy, with sectors such as biomaterials, diagnostics and drug delivery expected to play a major role.

The advances achieved in the area of nanomaterials have led scientists to target the skin, and therefore transdermal drug delivery, as a high potential route for the clinical treatment of a number of conditions. The large and accessible surface area of the skin offers a direct route to the blood system that avoids first pass metabolism, maintains a steady plasma concentration of drug, it is non-invasive and more patient-friendly as it avoids injections.

The scientific aim of this project is to develop and characterize a selected set of novel self-assembled polymeric nanoparticles and to study their suitability as novel drug delivery systems for targeting inflammatory skin diseases. The nanoparticles will be initially developed and tested using traditional small molecules antinflammatory drugs, e.g. flufenamic acid.

The project will benefit from the combination of high level facilities and expertise available in the Host Institute, both in terms of nanoparticle synthesis and characterisation as well as dermatological studies with the knowledge and experience of the applicant on self-assembled systems and RAFT polymerisation. The project will further benefit from the interactions offered by NANODRUG, the ITN coordinated by the supervisor and by the collaboration with Sanofi-Aventis.

We aim to develop new polymeric self-assembled nanomaterials using RAFT polymerisation. The project has been organized in three work packages (WP), each focusing on specific objectives and deliverables. Self-assembled nanoparticles will be synthesized based on amphiphilic block copolymers, homopolymers and stimuli responsive polymers, to achieve a balance between hydrophobic and hydrophilic character, narrow size (20 nm) and good stability suitable for dermal drug delivery. The NPs will be tagged with fluorescent units and evaluated in terms of toxicity and cellular uptake in vitro using keratinocytes. The best ones will be characterized in terms of skin permeability using Franz cells and their drug delivery properties studied using flufenamic acid as model drug.

Facilities and training

The training program, will cover all different aspects ranging from nanoparticles synthesis and characterization, novel formulation technology and analytical chemistry to pharmacology and cell biology. It will provide the candidate with the ideal experience and platform from which his/her career in the field of nanomedicine can progress. The group led by prof Resmini is very multidisciplinary and international and more details can be found in the website from the group :

The use of nanomaterials for drug delivery offers potential advantages, such as:

  1. Improved drug solubility;
  2. Improved drug stability and shelf-life;
  3. Increased bioavailability;
  4. Controlled release and
  5. Opportunity to achieve drug targeting for efficiency.[1][2]

[1] Puoci F, Iemma F, Picc N, Curr. Drug Del. 2008, 5, 85-96
[2] Petros RA, De Simone J, Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 2010, 9, 615

Eligibility and applying

International students must provide evidence of proficient English language skills. See our entry requirements page for further information.

Potential candidates should contact Prof. Resmini by e-mail ( and submit their CV and a cover letter explaining their eligibility and interest in this project.

See also