218th ECS Meeting, Nevada

Leverhulme Burser Matthew Cude reports from the 218th ECS Meeting, Nevada. 11 October 2010 - 17 October 2010.

I attended the 218th ElectroChemical Society (ECS) Meeting in Las Vegas, in October, where I gave a 20 minute presentation titled ‘Development of Gold Coated Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles for Nitroreductase Delivery’ to the General Nanotechnology subdivision of the conference.

My PhD research is based around developing a novel delivery method for a directed enzyme prodrug therapy (DEPT). DEPT are currently being clinically trialled to localise the production of cytotoxic compounds at cancer cells by use of enzymes; these enzymes are either expressed or delivered to tumour cells so that non-toxic prodrugs are activated to cytotoxic compounds exclusively at cancer sites. The research I am undertaking involves the cloning and genetic modification of some nitroreductases (NTRs) and the development of gold coated superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (Au-SPION). NTRs activate compounds such as CB1954 (5-[aziridin-1-yl]-2,4-dinitrobenzamide) to cytotoxic compounds which cause cell death by alkylating DNA and initiating apoptosis. By genetically modifying these NTRs to contain a sequence of cysteines, we can immobilise the viathiol linkages to gold surfaces. As Au-SPION can be magnetically manipulated, it can therefore be held specifically at tumour sites with magnetic fields, with genetically modified NTRs immobilised to their gold surfaces. CB1954 has low toxicity to humans given we don’t possess any native enzymes that effectively catalyse its reduction to a DNA crosslinking agent; therefore, the drug would only be activated where the magnetic beam is holding the NTR-Au-SPION.

Having the opportunity to attend the conference has had a great impact on my research. Aside from the feedback from conference attendees with general ideas and directions for the work, we have been able to collaborate with other researchers working in similar areas, allowing us to expand our work and the project as a whole. This by far was the highlight of the whole experience as it was great to not only meet people who are interested in the research I have been doing, but have expertise in areas that I do not, and want to lend this to the project. I suspect this conference and the contacts and collaborations that were made will prove very productive for this research and the project as a whole.

In terms of how this project will have improved my career prospects, I am not sure. The conference helped me view my research in a different way, and has improved the scope and capabilities of the project. The success of my current research will undoubtedly affect my future employability. I also think the general organisation, raising of funds, collecting data, writing and delivering the presentation (as well as the post conference paper) will have developed my skill sets in these areas – hopefully also making me more employable.

I am very grateful for SCI's financial support in aiding me to attend, present, and network at the 218th ECS conference, Las Vegas.

Matthew Cude
Bangor University

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