— part of the Researchers Shaping The Future Series —
It’s my great pleasure to introduce…
I am a third year PhD student at the University of Westminster. Originally from Melbourne, Australia, I have made London home for my three children, partner and dog.
Snapshot of Amy’s Research
I am developing a drug delivery system to treat diseases of the brain.
Amy on Twitter as @amy_maclatchy
Insights From Amy
Elaine… When we were talking about your research at the Graduate School Annual Reception, it was apparent that you really care about your research. Please could you share why doing research in this area is important to you personally.
Amy… Many individuals who find themselves in research do so to ‘make a difference’. I am not immune to that. My field of research, drug delivery, is particularly interesting and important to me due to the complexities to the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB).
The BBB is a physical, functional and pharmacological barrier designed to protect the brain and restrict entry of potentially toxic and pathogenic substances.
The poor survival rates of patients diagnosed with glioblastomas (12-15 months) have inspired me to explore potential avenues to improve the availability of treatments to treat diseases that may not have been available or accessible before.
I have always had a passion for knowledge. Now I had an opportunity to investigate from an experimental and practical platform. I want to make that difference through my research and develop a delivery system capable of delivery drugs that were once restricted from entering the brain.
Elaine… Moving from the personal to the bigger picture. What difference do you believe your research could make and to whom. In other words, why does your research matter?
Amy… My research has the potential to deliver drugs to the brain that were once unable to be delivered. The synthetic vesicles we are developing have been shown to encapsulate cargoes of differing sizes with the potential of crossing the BBB. This is important as size is one of the many challenges preventing entry of drugs to the brain.
This has the potential of increasing the availability of treatment for patients diagnosed with diseases of the brain such as glioblastoma, Parkinson’s Disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), by packaging and delivering drugs that were otherwise unable to cross the BBB before.
For drugs, such as levodopa, that can cross the BBB, encapsulating the drug offers a neat package system to prevent unwanted side effects. It may also open new avenues in drug discovery which has been constrained by the challenges of the BBB.