Mr Lorenzo Davids (left) and Mr Jude Akinyelu.

PhD Students Fly UKZN Flag at International Nanotechnology Conference

Two PhD candidates from UKZN’s School of Life Sciences received Best Paper awards for their oral presentations at the annual International Conference on Nanomedicine, Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineering (NDDTE’18) in Budapest, Hungary.

The International Conference on Nanomedicine, Drug Delivery and Tissue Engineeringaims to become the leading annual conference in fields related to nanomedicine, drug delivery and tissue engineering. The conference – which sees scholars from all over the world present advances in nanotechnology and exchange ideas and information – also provides an ideal environment to develop new collaborations and meet experts on the fundamentals, applications and products of the mentioned fields.

The PhD students, Mr Jude Akinyelu and Mr Lorenzo Davids, both completing their research under the supervision of Professor Moganavelli Singh, presented on their work concerning nano-delivery systems for anti-cancer agents.

Akinyelu presented on the topic: Folic Acid-Conjugated Chitosan Functionalised Gold Nanoparticles for Targeted Delivery of 5-Fluorouracil in Breast Cancer which concerns his research on the development of ligand orchestrated nano-delivery systems for precise delivery of conventional anti-cancer agents. Akinyelu hopes this will contribute to an improvement in the efficiency of chemotherapy and the reduction of toxicity associated with the use of chemotherapeutics. Akinyelu acknowledged the National Research Foundation (NRF), World Academy of Sciences, UKZN’s College of Agriculture, Engineering and Science, Professor Singh, and members of the non-viral gene and drug delivery laboratory for their support of his research.

Titled: An In-Vitro Assessment of Functionalised Gold Nanoparticles in Anti-Cancer Drug Delivery, Davids’ presentation dealt with the targeted delivery of a single chemotherapeutic drug called 5-Fluorouracil encapsulated by chitosan using gold nanoparticles as a delivery vehicle. For his PhD, Davids is focusing on developing an efficient drug delivery vector built around gold nanoparticles capable of selectively targeting cancerous cell lines using transferrin receptors for the delivery of the anti-tumour drugs 5-Fluorouracil and doxorubicin. He says the development of a safe and efficient drug delivery system has the possibility to change current treatment regimens. ‘This could allow repackaging of classical drugs into a more efficient drug delivery system resulting in lowered nonspecific cytotoxicity and the use of lower concentrations of the drug, thereby limiting the numerous side effects experienced by patients undergoing chemotherapy,’ said Davids.

Akinyelu and Davids said the event provided the opportunity to present some of their findings to an international audience and to establish connections with experienced researchers in the field of nanotechnology, creating opportunities for future collaborations. Responses from delegates to the presentations were positive, with delegates intrigued by the research underway in the non-viral drug and gene delivery laboratory at UKZN.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photographs supplied by Jude Akinyelu and Lorenzo Davids