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12 February 2024

King's receives £1.4 million UKRI boost to investigate advanced therapies

A King’s lab has received a Mission Award worth £1.4 million by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for its role in a project that aims to engineer tiny milk particles into advanced but accessible therapies.

Pharmacy lab

Dr Driton Vllasaliu, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (IPS), will lead the biomedicines project, with labs from Aston University and The University of Nottingham contributing.

The project, titled ‘Engineering of Extracellular Vesicles for Oral Delivery of Nucleic Acid Therapies’ will look to engineer nanometre-scale particles found in milk into advanced, yet inexpensive and accessible therapies based on nucleic acids. As project leader, King’s will provide unique expertise in extracellular vesicle engineering and oral drug delivery. The project will also draw together world-leading expertise in membranes from Aston University and formulation science from the University of Nottingham.

Successful realisation of this project has significant potential societal impacts, enabling disruptive and sustainable manufacturing of affordable and accessible oral biological therapies for a number of diseases."

Dr Driton Vllasaliu, Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics at the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences

The £1.4 million will fund the project for two years and is one of 22 Mission Awards that were announced on Friday 9 February by Andrew Griffith, Minister for Science, Research and Innovation. The Mission Awards are part of a wider £100 million UKRI Technology Missions fund that will also create six new Engineering Biology Missions Hubs around the UK with the aim of transforming solutions in areas like vaccine, textile and food production. The fund will play a key role in achieving the goals of the government’s national vision for engineering biology that was announced in December 2023.

Engineering biology has the power to transform our health and environment, from developing life-saving medicines to protecting our environment and food supply and beyond."

Andrew Griffith, Science, Research and Innovation Minister

UKRI is investing £100 million to unlock the potential of Engineering Biology across a broad range of applications, tackling major global challenges and stimulating economic growth."

Dr Amanda Collis, UKRI Technology Mission Director for Engineering Biology and interim Deputy Executive Chair of BBSRC

Dr Amanda continued: “This investment builds upon the UK’s significant strengths in Engineering Biology. The Hubs and Mission Awards will support collaboration between disciplines, with business, and across the regions and nations of the UK, as well as enable partnership with other countries. Together they make an important contribution towards realizing the ambitions set out in the UK Government’s National Vision for Engineering Biology.” 

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Driton Vllasaliu

Senior Lecturer in Pharmaceutics