EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines

University of Nottingham
  • Print


Liisa Niitsoo

CDT student, UCL School of Pharmacy


Liisa Niitsoo

Liisa graduated with an MChem degree in Chemistry from the University of Southampton in 2014.  During her undergraduate studies she completed research projects in synthetic bio-organic chemistry and chemical crystallography, and spent 6 months at James Cook University, Australia developing a new point-of-care diagnostic for melioidosis.  After graduation, Liisa started working at the Royal Society of Chemistry as a Publishing Editor on their flagship General Chemistry journals, as well as coordinating the production of ChemSocRev (IF: 40.443) and editing two Faraday Discussions volumes.  In 2017, she joined the CDT in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines at UCL to pursue a PhD on active targeting of polymeric nanoparticles for cancer therapy.  Liisa conducted her industrial placement at AstraZeneca in Cambridge for 12 weeks and her mini-project focused on 3D bioprinting.

Current Research

PhD Project Title: Multiplex nanoparticles for active tumour targeting

Supervisor: Dr Andreas Schatzlein

Project description: Tumour cells present a variety of surface markers that could be targeted using a variety of high affinity ligands for safer and more specific treatment, as the markers are either not expressed, or expressed to a much lower degree, in healthy cells.  Nanoparticles (NPs) provide multifunctional ligand platforms as well as diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities for the treatment of a variety of conditions, however, realisation of actively targeted NPs has been challenging in the clinic. Quaternary ammonium palmitoyl glycol chitosan (GCPQ) is an amphiphilic chitosan derived polymer that self-assembles into highly stable NPs capable of encapsulating poorly water soluble hydrophobic drugs.  In biological fluids, these NPs appear to be stable and sustain long circulation, as well as avoid the liver and spleen.  Taken together this suggest these NPs could be an interesting platform to address some of the challenges for active NP targeting in cancer.

Hence, the current aims are to explore active and potentially multiplexed targeting to solid tumours using GCPQ. Multifunctionality of GCPQ can be achieved either by conjugation of multiple functional moieties at defined stoichiometries, or via assembly of a combination of mono-functional polymers with distinct properties.  These strategies could tune the avidity and affinity of a given targeted particle as well as explore combination targeting using a mixture of ligands, resulting in stable and targetable particles with improved binding.  The initial aim of the project therefore is to explore suitable conjugation strategies using well established models of active targeting, starting with folate ligands and moving on to aptamers and antibodies.


None as yet

EPSRC Centres for Doctoral Training in Advanced Therapeutics and Nanomedicines


The University of Nottingham
School of Pharmacy
Boots Science Building
University of Nottingham,
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
t: +44(0)115 823 2121
e: Claudia.Matz@nottingham.ac.uk

University College London
School of Pharmacy
University College London
29-39 Brunswick Square,
London WC1N 1AX.
t: +44 (0) 20 7753 5948
e: s.marks.pharm@ucl.ac.uk