the Field in
# 1 in pancreatic cancer drug delivery
targeted cancer research
Current opportunities //
Ulster University is actively seeking a strategic partner to assist in the further development of this exciting technology.The University is open to a variety of models for collaboration including partnering a spin-out opportunity, sponsored research, out-licensing and other forms of co-development.
In addition, the inventors of this technology are able to provide valuable know-how and play a significant role in its successful commercialisation. The University has successfully patented this technology, establishing freedom to operate and now wishes to move from preclinical to a first in man study for pancreatic cancer.
Meet the team
Professor John Callan
John Callan is Norbrookchair in
pharmaceutical science at Ulster
University. A chemist by training he
has 20+ years experience in the
discovery, development and formulation of new drug candidates.
Professor Anthony McHale
Tony McHale is professor of medical
biotechnology at Ulster University.
A biochemist by training he has
previous experience in the creation,
pre-clinical development and
preliminary clinical testing of an ultrasound-based therapy (CEFUS) for cancer.
Prof Elanor Stride
Eleanor Stride is professor of
engineering science at the University
of Oxford. Her research has a strong
focus on drug delivery systems
engineering and biomedical ultrasonics.
Prof Stride is also a non-executive
director of AtoCapLtd which focuses on the targeted delivery of antibiotics for the treatment of chronic infections.
Mark Taylor is the lead HPB surgeon
in Northern Ireland, President Elect of
Great Britain and Ireland
(GBIHPBA) and Director of Education,
Research and Training for the
Association of upper G.I. Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (AUGIS). Prof Taylor has also advised NICE on the use of cyberknifein the treatment of pancreatic cancer.
Mark Love is consultant radiologist in
the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast.
Dr Love has 25 years experience in
cancer diagnosis and staging using
a variety of techniques including CT,
MRI and endoscopic ultrasound. .
Tess Barker is the founder of Cara Project Management Consulting Ltd. Dr Barker has nearly 20 years of experience early stage drug development in small/medium biotech companies.
Unique targeted drug delivery system that can significantly increase cancer drug efficacy.
SonoTarg enables physicians to specifically target therapeutics to tumours by innovatively exploiting microbubbles and ultrasonic energy. This proprietary platform, developed by leading scientists at Ulster University, provides impressive size reduction of both pancreatic and breast tumours in animal models and minimises adverse effects associated with conventional chemotherapy.
Background and technology
Of the top 21 most common types of cancer in the UK, pancreatic has the lowest survival rate - with just 4 percent of patients surviving five years or more – a figure which hasn't changed in more than 40 years – and more than 200,000 people around the world die from pancreatic cancer annually.
In developing this technology, Ulster University Professors John Callan and Tony McHale have teamed up with University of Oxford's Professor Eleanor Stride and one of Northern Ireland's top pancreatic cancer surgeons, Mr Mark Taylor, to produce the minimally invasive treatment that has the potential to significantly improve the outcome for pancreatic cancer patients. This process involves the creation of microbubbles loaded with anti-cancer drugs which are then administered intravenously. These bubbles are ruptured at the target using ultrasonic energy thus providing targeted treatment of tumors, increasing the efficacy of the drugs and reducing harmful side effects.
This platform can be further enhanced by incorporating a mechanism to enable magnetic targeting if necessary. The technology also enables a gas such as oxygen to be released at the required treatment site to enhance the action of drugs on target tumors.
Our latest publications
Combined sonodynamic and antimetabolite
therapy for the improved treatment of pancreatic
cancer using oxygen loaded microbubbles as a
delivery vehicle. Biomaterials (2016) 80, 20-32
Gemcitabine loaded microbubbles for targeted chemo-sonodynamic therapy of pancreatic cancer. J. Control Release (2018) 279, 8-16 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.04.018
How it works //
Here is a brief description of our drug delivery system in action.