• United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

- Development of novel tumour-targeted nanomedicines for cancer therapy

Personal profile

Personal Statement

Dr Christine Dufès is a Reader (Associate Professor) in Nanomedicine and Director of the Postgraduate School at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS). She teaches on the Master of Pharmacy and on various MSc postgraduate degrees.

 

Background:

Christine holds a Doctorate in Pharmacy and a PhD with a European Label, both earned with Distinction and congratulations from the Jury (University of Poitiers, France). After four years as a post-doctoral researcher at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Laboratories in Glasgow, she was appointed as a Lecturer in SIPBS.

 

Research focus:

The research of her laboratory focuses on the following pioneering research areas:

  1. Tumour-Targeted Therapeutics for Cancer Therapy: novel designs of tumour-targeted, drug- and gene-based nanomedicines for advanced cancer therapy.
  2. Brain-Targeted Nanomedicines: design and development of nanomedicines able to reach the brain after intravenous administration, with the ultimate goal of advancing drug and gene delivery for brain tumours and neurodegenerative disorders.

It resulted in 2 patents, 55 publications, 4 book chapters and attracted 4300+ citations (h-index: 34 (Google scholar)). All her PhD students have successfully submitted their theses within the imparted time and are now further developing their careers in academia or industry.

 

Awards and Recognitions:

Christine has been awarded the Bourse d’Excellence Lavoisier (2002), the Award of the 9th Annual Symposium of the United Kingdom and Ireland Controlled Release Society (2003), the Biochemical Journal Young Investigator Award (2009), the Tom Gibson Memorial Award (2012), the Scientist Medal of the International Association of Advanced Materials (2021) and the Outstanding Woman Researcher in Nanomedicine award of the Venus International Foundation (2021) for her research.

She also received the “Best Overall” Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Award in 2013 for her teaching, was nominated 10 times since then and was shortlisted in the category “Best in Faculty of Science” in 2015, 2018 and 2022. In 2020, she was the sole nominee from her department for a Strathclyde Teaching Excellence Award by students.

 

Academic Community Engagement:

She actively contributes to the academic community, serving as an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a Trustee of the British Society of Nanomedicine, the Strathclyde Network Lead for the UK Reproducibility Network. She is Editorial Advisory Board member of Biomaterials Science and member of the Editorial Boards of 6 journals (Journal of Liposome ResearchJournal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Journal of Nanotechnology: Nanomedicine & Nanobiotechnology, Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Pharmaceutics and Scientia Pharmaceutica).

 

Research highlights:

DNA-based nanomedicines for cancer therapy:

  • Tumour regression/disappearance after intravenous administration of novel tumour-targeted dendriplexes encoding Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNFα), resulting in the complete disappearance of 90% of the tumours and regression of the remaining ones. A significant milestone, considering the absence of commercially available gene medicine for intravenous cancer treatment (Koppu et al., 2010, Lim et al., 2015).

 

  • Regression/disappearance of prostate tumours following the intravenous administration of a novel tumour-targeted polypropylenimine dendrimer combined with either TNFα, TRAIL and IL-12 expression plasmids, with complete disappearance of up to 70% of PC-3 tumours and up to 50% of DU145 tumours. It is the first demonstration of the efficacy of gene therapy for prostate cancer in laboratory settings (Al Robaian et al., 2014; Altwaijry et al., 2018).

 

  • Development of new tumour targeting-gold nanocages conjugated with polyethylenimine and polyethylene glycol, and tumour-targeting, dendrimer-bearing gold nanocages. They are highly promising gene delivery systems to prostate cancer cells. Their efficacy is achieved without the need for external stimulation such as photothermal therapy required for gold nanoparticles (Almowalad et al., 2021 and 2022).

 

DNA-based nanomedicines for brain delivery:

  • Increase of gene expression in the brain following intravenous injection of transferrin-bearing dendriplex, while decreasing non-specific gene expression. Gene expression was at least 3-fold higher in the brain than in any tested peripheral organs (Somani et al., 2014). 

 

  • Increase of gene expression in the brain following intravenous injection of lactoferrin-bearing dendriplex (by more than 6-fold compared to that of the unmodified dendriplex), while decreasing the non-specific gene expression in the lung and the kidneys. Gene expression was significantly higher in the brain than in any other tested peripheral organs. The administered gene was expressed in the hippocampus, which plays an important role in consolidating information from short-term memory into long-term memory. It is a primary site for Alzheimer's pathology, which makes gene expression in this brain area particularly interesting for future therapeutic developments (Somani et al., 2015). 

 

Drug-based nanomedicines for cancer therapy: 

  • Synergy between docetaxel and mebendazole (collaborative work with Professor Hing Leung (Principal Investigator), the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research). We demonstrated that mebendazole (an anthelmintic drug that inhibits microtubule assembly) potently synergises docetaxel-mediated cell kill in vitroand in vivo. Liposomes entrapping docetaxel and mebendazole suppressed in vivo prostate tumour growth and extended progression-free survival. Our data supports a new concept of combined mebendazole/docetaxel treatment that warrants further clinical evaluation (Rushworth et al., 2020).

 

  • Tumour regression/disappearance after intravenous administration of plumbagin, a natural compound extracted from the officinal leadwort, encapsulated in novel tumour-targeted formulations (liposomes, nanoparticles, and lipid–polymer hybrid nanoparticles). This administration resulted in complete disappearance of up to 40% of B16-F10 tumours and tumour regression for up to 30% of the tumours. It is the first time that plumbagin was shown to have an anti-cancer therapeutic effect (Sakpakdeejaroen et al., 2019, 2020 and 2021).

 

  • Tumour regression/disappearance after intravenous administration of the green tea extract epigallocatechin gallate encapsulated in novel tumour-targeted vesicles, with complete disappearance of 40% of the tumours for both tested tumour types. It is the first time that a green tea extract was shown to have an anti-cancer therapeutic effect (Lemarié et al., 2013).

 

  • Tumour regression/disappearance after intravenous administration of the vitamin E extract tocotrienol entrapped in novel tumour-targeted vesicles, with complete disappearance of 40% of the melanoma tumoursIt is the first time that a tocotrienol formulation can lead to tumour suppression (Fu et al., 2009, 2011; Karim et al., 2017).

 

  • Demonstration that the presence of the human plasma-based protein corona coating PEGylated zein micelles did not limit their uptake by melanoma cells, but decreased their uptake by macrophages and dendritic cells. This is the first report of a delivery system positively affected by the presence of protein corona on its surface, presenting a promising avenue for future cancer therapy developments (Meewan et al., 2022).

 

  • Development of new redox-sensitive dendrimersomes that can be used as drug and gene delivery systems for combination cancer therapy. They were able to entrap both hydrophilic and hydrophobic agents, coupled with redox-responsive sustained release of the entrapped guests. They were able to condense DNA, and increased gene expression in prostate cancer cells by 5-fold compared to that observed when treated with DNA (Laskar et al., 2018, 2019, 2021).

 

For more information, visit Dufes lab website: http://www.dufeslab.com/

Research Interests

The research of her laboratory focuses on the following pioneering research areas:

  1. Tumour-Targeted Therapeutics for Cancer Therapy: novel designs of tumour-targeted, drug- and gene-based nanomedicines for advanced cancer therapy.
  2. Brain-Targeted Nanomedicines: design and development of nanomedicines able to reach the brain after intravenous administration, with the ultimate goal of advancing drug and gene delivery for brain tumours and neurodegenerative disorders.

Teaching Interests

Christine Dufès teaches on the Master of Pharmacy and on various MSc postgraduate degrees. 

 

  • UNDERGRADUATE TEACHING (MPharm)

- Being a Pharmacist (Years 2-4, MP220, MP320, MP420)

- Normal function of the nervous and endocrine systems (Year 2, MP223)

- Management of Infection and Infectious Diseases (Year 3, MP321)

- Management of CNS Conditions (Year 4, MP422)

- New medicines, better medicines, better use of medicines (Year 4, MP429)

  

  • POSTGRADUATE TEACHING (MSc)

- Drug discovery and development in cancer therapy (MSc Cancer therapy, MP988)

- Novel therapeutics and Biopharmaceuticals (MSc Advanced Drug Delivery, MP810)

- Advanced Topics In Drug Delivery (MSc Advanced Drug Delivery, MP952)

- Bioanalysis, biotechnology and quality management (MSc Pharmaceutical analysis, MP919) 

- Drug delivery to the brain (MSc Disorders of the nervous system, BM949)

 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure

Keywords

  • Targeted nanomedicines
  • Cancer therapy
  • Brain delivery
  • Gene therapy
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Dendrimers

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