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GROUP MEMBERS

Current:

Dr Duane Ager (PDRA)

Ms Xinyue (Cindy) Huang (DPhil candidate)

Ms Marimar Bravo (DPhil candidate)

Mr Phurit (Mookie) Bornovitchitai (DPhil candidate)

Ms Anna Evison (Placement student)

Ms Giulia Spadafora (Placement student)

Ms Lucy Taylor (Placement student)

Ms Emily Walport (Materials science 4YP)

Mr Florent Amiot (Visitor, France)

Past:

Dr Malgorzata Rybak-Smith (PDRA)

Ms Rachel Morrison (DPhil candidate)

Ms Natalia Barkalina (MSc)

Ms Perita Amakiri

Ms Mashael Al Saud

Mr Greg Bond (Engineering Science, 4YP)

Mr Austin Hwang

 


EXTERNAL COLLABORATORS:

Prof. Robert Kiss (Universite Libre de Bruxelles)

Prof. Antonio Evidente (Naples University, Italy)

Prof. Alexander Kornienko (Texas, USA)

Townley, Hankins and Thompson groups

Townley, Hankins and Thompson groups

Townley group

Townley group

Christmas 2014

Williams Fund stall at Begbroke

Williams Fund stall at Begbroke

Johanna Dodd (left) from the Williams fund, and research students, at Begbroke to sell Christmas cards

Helen Townley

BSc (Hons), PhD

University Research Lecturer

  • Williams Fund Research Fellow
  • Senior visiting Research Fellow (Engineering Science)

SUPPORTED BY THE WILLIAMS FUND

SUPPORTED BY THE WILLIAMS FUND

http://www.williamsfund.co.uk/

RESEARCH

Our research focuses on the use of nanoparticles in cancer for therapy, imaging or drug delivery. The small size of nanoparticles means that they can passively accumulate in tumours due to the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR) effect. The EPR effect is the property by which certain sizes of molecules accumulate more in tumour tissues than in normal tissues. This occurs because newly formed tumour blood vessels are abnormal in form and architecture, and have poorly-aligned endothelial cells with wide fenestrations through which the molecules can pass. Furthermore, tumour tissues lack efficient lymphatic drainage. 

Encapsulation of chemotherapy drugs within nanoparticles therefore enables them to be delivered directly to the site of the tumour, reducing systemic side effects, and enabling a higher dose to be reached in the cancerous tissue. Fluorophores and reporter molecules can be added to the nanoparticles for localization, and assessment of the efficacy of the treatment. Microparticle systems have also been developed for chemoembolization, in which the blood supply to the tumour is blocked causing the cancerous tissue to die. Other nanoparticles have also been developed which can be used to enhance the effect of conventional radiotherapy.

Ways in which nanoparticles can help in the fight against cancer are also discussed in a recent Guardian article here

Technology transfer

Together with Isis Innovation we are working to commercialize this technology (http://www.isis-innovation.com/licensing/4465.html) by the formation of a spin-out company Xerion Healthcare.

http://www.globaluniversityventuring.com/article.php/4835/xerion-stays-healthy-with-isis-fund-investment

This is also the subject of a 'Research in Conversation' article:

http://www.ox.ac.uk/research/research-in-conversation/entrepreneurial-academics/helen-townley-and-xerion

Other nanoparticles applications

In addition to cancer treatments, nanoparticles are useful for many other applications and we have collaborated with groups working, for example, on the use of nanoparticles to combat infertility (http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2013/131115_1.html), and for smart biocide delivery to specifically target harmful bacteria (http://www.isis-innovation.com/licensing/9992.html

 

WORK ON NATURAL PRODUCTS AS NOVEL CHEMOTHERAPEUTICS

We work together with a number of international colleagues on the application of plant and fungi derived compounds for action against cancers.

See the link for a recent interview:

https://www.researchgate.net/blog/post/finding-cures-for-incurable-cancers-in-nature

Enquiries from prospective DPhil students are always welcome

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Recent Publications

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RECOGNITION OF OUR WORK

RECOGNITION OF OUR WORK

Helen Townley, together with Andrew Parker (NHM), was awarded the Kajal Mallick Memorial Award (2016)

Front Cover JMSM highlighting our work

Front Cover JMSM highlighting our work

Multimodal embolization particle with tantalum core and fluorescence. For editorial article see: http://static.springer.com/sgw/documents/1521148/application/pdf/JMSM+August+Editorial+HTownley+FINAL.pdf

Nanoparticle augmented radiotherapy animation

Titania nanoparticles doped with rare earth elements are able to increase the efficacy of radiotherapy. The nanoparticles generate reactive oxygen species in response to X-ray and destroy cancerous cells. The nanoparticles are inert in the absence of radiotherapy.

RESEARCH IN THE TOWNLEY LAB