Spontaneous self-assembly of functional molecules on the nanoemulsion surface.
Spontaneous self-assembly of functional molecules on the nanoemulsion surface.

Project keywords

Nanoemulsion, Drug delivery, Targeted therapy, Vaccine, Encapsulation, Biomolecular engineerng, Nanobitechnology, Green chemistry, Cancer, Infectious disease, Nanomaterials, Nanobiotechnology, Health

Project summary

The Middelberg group has recently invented a breakthrough Australian nanomedicine platform.  The technology enables the encapsulation of oil- and water-soluble molecules and their highly specific delivery to target cells in vivo. These tailorable nano-sized emulsions consist of nano-scale droplets of pharmaceutical-grade oil that may be loaded with various bio-active cargos, ranging from small molecules to hydrophobic peptides to whole protein antigens. The droplets are stabilised by an award-winning peptide surfactant technology at the oil-water interface, which simultaneously prevents droplet aggregation and allows for facile modification to the external surface. Through genetic or chemical linkage to a related protein surfactant, selected molecules like a cell-specific antibody, or immune-evading polyethylene glycol (PEG), will spontaneously self-assemble at the oil-water interface in a controllable manner.

This approach brings molecular recognition and targeting capability to emulsion–based delivery. Emulsions are widely used in both pharmaceutical and cosmetic formulations, are ideal for delivering hydrophobic compounds and have a safe history. Adding tuneable cell-selective targeting to nano-sized emulsions opens numerous opportunities for new treatment modalities in areas like oncology, where more efficient targeted therapies are sorely needed; and autoimmune disease, where specific targeting of self-antigens to receptor-defined sub-populations holds great potential. Moreover, the possibility of antigen presentation and selective delivery to specialised antigen presenting cells warrants exploration of this technology for the design of next-generation prophylactics.

Project contacts

Lead investigator Dr Frank Sainsbury
Contact email f.sainsbury@uq.edu.au


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