Leicester Institute for Pharmaceutical Innovation areas of expertise

The institute’s research spans a range of disciplines, which focus on the development and manufacture of medicines, the interaction of medicines with living systems and the environment (from analytical to forensic science prospective), the use of medicine in a healthcare relevant context and education for safe use and distribution of medicines.

Our research is driven by societal strategic priorities and fully aligns with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals covering a wide spectrum from promoting Good Health and Wellbeing to Quality Education, from Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure to Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

Pharmaceutical Technologies and Nanomedicine

Pharmaceutical Technologies research is both application and concept driven and directed towards the development of new platforms, processes, devices and therapies for healthcare and industry. We are a highly technical and internationally recognised research group. We are also able to solve specific business problems, help develop products and services, and provide job-specific training and work-based learning in Pharmaceutical Quality by Design. By working with the Pharmaceutical Technologies Group, your organisation could benefit from our research expertise, analytical services, bespoke consultancy and a range of collaborative research and development opportunities.

Our expertise covers:

  • Analytical science - terahertz imaging and spectroscopy; dielectric spectroscopy; thermal analysis; rheology; NIR and raman spectroscopy; atomic force microscopy and SEM.
  • Drug delivery - including bio-responsive polymers for diabetes and psoriasis and biodegradable polymeric nano/micro particles.
  • Materials science - including particle engineering, co-crystal screening/characterisation/property prediction; powder technology; amorphous materials; hydrogels and polymers.
  • Manufacturing processes - continuous manufacturing of solid dose forms, including direct compression tableting and hot melt extrusion; unit process, including batch crystallization; freeze-drying; micronization, electro-hydrodynamic spraying of micro-particles, micro-fibres and micro-bubbles.
  • Pharmaceutical product development - including in vitro dissolution testing, online Raman monitoring of dissolution process and computer simulations of drug dissolution.
  • Process analytical technologies - through-vial impedance spectroscopy for lyophilization process understanding and control; powder flow patterns analysis by optical and electrostatic techniques; and tablet inspection systems using intelligent laser speckle classification and quantum measurement technology.
  • Biomaterials and Emerging Therapies – design, engineering and assessment of scaffolds, tissue engineering constructs, implantable devices and future therapies.

Our mission is to transfer our knowledge and technology, established in the field of pharmaceutical sciences, microbiology, chemistry, physics and engineering (in particular process engineering), to provide step changes in standards of product and process design and healthcare interventions. The emphasis is pharmaceutical, biomedical and healthcare, but with strong synergy to some other process industries such as the food industry.

Lead Contact: Professor Zeeshan Ahmad, Professor in Pharmaceutics and Drug Delivery

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 1M.02
The Gateway
Leicester LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 6455
E. zahmad@dmu.ac.uk

Chemistry for health and environment and Bioanalytical Science

The Chemistry for Health and Environment and Bioanalytical Sciences Research Group develops research and provides high levels of doctoral and post-doctoral training in the fields of Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry as well as Chemistry for Health.

Chemical, biochemical, pharmacological and pharmaceutical outputs include advanced trace chemical analysis, diverse analytical capabilities, and the full identification of chemical compositions and unknown materials, together with chemical solving processes.

One major development is that staff involved have expanded their analytical expertise and experience to incorporate the analysis of complex human biofluids, tissue biopsies and so on, acquired from clinical, veterinary, biomedical and toxicological investigations. Moreover, this group involves a network of academic staff, including experienced analytical chemists, biochemists, synthetic organic chemists, pharmaceutical scientists and metabolomics-based statisticians, and is equipped with a very wide range of analytical facilities. A series of fully-equipped laboratories are dedicated to these tasks, including one that will house our soon-to-be acquired 600 MHz biomedical NMR analysis facility.

This group also offers a very high level of expertise and experience in the areas of experimental design, biometrics/chemometrics, metabolomics and data-mining. Current collaborations include those with the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Leicester, Warwick, Loughborough, Bristol, UCL and King’s College London and the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL). Key international collaborations include those with the National Institute of Health (NIH, Bethesda, MA, USA), Stanford (CA, USA) and Harvard (MA, USA) universities, and the Centre for Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), together with the International Trade Centre of the United Nations (Geneva, Switzerland).     

The extensive expertise and experience of participating Chemistry for Health/Bioanalytical Science Group staff has facilitated the development of a culture of quality that serves to promote and maintain the recruitment of doctoral training programme (DTP) students. The multicomponent high-resolution NMR, liquid chromatographic- and liquid chromatographic/mass spectrometric (LC/MS) analyses of biofluids and tissues for diagnostic and prognostic purposes; bio- and chemometrics, and metabolomics, including NMR-, LC- and LC/MS-based exploratory data analysis and pattern recognition techniques (applied to the diagnosis of cancer, inflammatory disorders, lysosomal storage diseases and oral health conditions, for example, together with determinations of the therapeutic efficacies of drugs and healthcare products, etc) have been explored in detail. There is currently a series of investigations focused on cancer chemotherapy, antimicrobial drug resistance, and the study of natural products as templates for future drug design, development and efficacy testing. New lead compounds in the public domain include a family of CYP1-activated pro-drugs, which have been patented and licensed.

Further research activities are focused on the rational design of anti-tuberculosis ‘hit-molecules’ with novel mode of actions to be advanced into drug-leads (Dr F. Brucoli) and analytical advances with molecularly-imprinted polymers as nano-scale biomimetics (Dr N. Turner). Also notable is a substantial environmental chemistry input (Professor K. Huddersman), and bioinorganic chemistry projects (for example, the ‘speciation’ of metal ions in human biofluids), medical devices (including dental prostheses and further biomaterials), and those involving food authentification, quality and toxicology, particularly studies focused on the adverse health effects of dietary lipids and their oxidation products (all Professor Martin Grootveld).

  • Drug Discovery and Development
  • Molecular Toxicology
  • Computational Biochemistry and Analysis
  • High resolution NMR analysis of Biomedical and Environmental Samples
  • Water and Wastewater treatment

Lead Contact: Professor Martin Grootveld, Professor of Bioanalytical Chemistry and Chemical Pathology

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 1M.02
The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 6443
E: mgrootveld@dmu.ac.uk

Pharmacology and Neuroscience

The Pharmacology and Neuroscience Research Group has a common interest in the neurobiology and treatment of brain disorders. The group is located within the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences and has close collaborations with the DMU Bioanalytical Chemistry Research Group, with the universities of Oxford, Newcastle and Leicester, as well as with international institutions in Sweden, France, Germany, Romania, Italy and China.

By using a range of state-of-the-art molecular biological, neurochemical, behavioural and electrophysiological techniques, the group is particularly interested in investigating pathophysiological mechanisms and new therapeutic targets for neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Niemann-Pick disease type C, pain disorders, neuromuscular disorders and brain tumours.

Members of the research group also have an active interest in developing new teaching methods for Pharmacology and Neuroscience, with particular focus on their application to Pharmacy Practice. 

Recent highlights of the group include a number of publications in leading scientific journals demonstrating new mechanisms of action by drugs used in the treatment of ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, DMD and cancer.

  • Neuropharmacology of brain disorders
  • Psychostimulants and antidepressants; molecular mechanisms and behavioural effects
  • Identification of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s)
  • Lysosomal storage diseases and cell biology of sphingolipid
  • Potassium channel function and schizophrenia
  • Cell therapy for cardiac regeneration
  • Vascular calcification

Lead Contact: Dr Tyra Zetterstrom, Reader in Neuropharmacology

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 2.16
The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 6477
E: tscz@dmu.ac.uk

Infectious Disease Research Group

The Infectious Disease Research Group (IDRG) encompasses infectious disease as a public health issue, assessing the epidemiology and prevalence of infectious disease through molecular diagnostics and analysis.

With a focus on infection prevention and control in patients, the community and the environment through the assessment of novel antimicrobials, disinfection and sterilisation, the overall aim of the group is to understand and prevent the spread of infectious disease.

The main ethos of the IDRG is to partake in collaborative research across different disciplines and with industry and the healthcare arena, with the aim of having an important impact on society.

Antimicrobial Research

There are several group members interested in the development of novel antimicrobials, with a particular interest in biofilms including the use of natural products, an antimicrobial catalyst (in collaboration with Centre for Engineering Science and Advanced System and industrial partners), nano metals and microencapsulated delivery systems for textiles with potential uses in the sports, healthcare and drug development arenas.  

The IDRG currently holds two patents in this area of research and development. The activity and mode of action of disinfectant and sterilants and investigations of the possible link between biocide use and antibiotic resistance are also being assessed. 

Molecular Microbiology

Understanding the molecular basis of the antibiotic resistant microbial pathogens, involving the characterisation of virulence genes at the molecular level, how they acquire resistance genes (pathogen’s horizontal gene transfer) and analysis of the mechanism by which these pathogenic microbes confer antimicrobial resistance, is also being researched. This includes developing novel molecular methods - PC- based diagnostic methods for diagnosing the antibiotic-resistant microbial pathogens at the early stage of their infectious diseases.

Research also focuses on understanding transcriptional regulation in important bacterial pathogens, specifically how they sense and respond to environmental stress.

Infection Control

The group has a number of interests within the area of infection control including Healthcare Laundry – the assessment of both domestically and industrially laundered healthcare textiles in the context of infection control, including the evaluation of current regulations, processes and EU energy labelling (collaborations with TEAM and industrial partners).

Travel – the efficacy of travel hand rubs, investigating the antiviral activity of commercially available travel hand rubs in order to develop more effective formulations.  

Parasitology

The group is currently investigating different emerging human parasites such as microsporidia (fungi) and protozoa (for example free-living amoebas, Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora) in urban ecosystems, including the possible role of wild and pet animals in the spread of these parasites and their public health implications.

This impact on humans is also being studied in collaboration with different international academics. This investigation will aid the development of applicable intervention mechanisms to protect humans as well as to design future protocols of prevention. The team is also developing an e-Parasitology platform to aid students and academics in their learning and teaching performances.

  • A Germ’s Journey – education
  • Antibiotic surveillance
  • Understanding antibiotic resistance
  • Diagnostics
  • Mechanisms of action of disinfectants and antimicrobials
  • Molecular microbiology
  • Natural products research

Lead Contact: Dr Katie Laird, Reader in Microbiology

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 1.16
The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8106
E: klaird@dmu.ac.uk

Forensic Science and Toxicology

The Forensic Science and Toxicology Research Group (FSTRG) aims to undertake internationally recognised research in forensic science and to be one of the UK’s leading providers of education and training in this subject. The group is embedded in the School of Pharmacy at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU). The aim of our research is to provide both national and international practising professionals, as well as policy makers, with high-quality research addressing a wide range of fundamental issues.  

  • Forensic Toxicology (post-mortem redistribution of drugs)
  • Forensic Evidence (novel methods for fingermark development and identification)
  • Forensic Biology (integrating the identification of migrants and analysing the ageing process of fingermarks using an interdisciplinary strategy combining forensic biology and analytical chemistry)
  • Analytical Chemistry (food adulterants: premium products and commodities)
  • Providing expert witness standards

Lead Contact: Dr Kevin Farrugia, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Chemistry

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 1.02
The Gateway
Leicester LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 4409
E: kevin.farrugia@dmu.ac.uk

Pharmacy Practice

Our main interests are focused on obtaining the optical therapeutic benefit from medicines and on the needs and behaviours of patients in order to improve the use of medicines. We also provide support to primary and secondary care pharmacists associated with developing robust methods of service evaluation and with regard to promoting new pharmaceutical care services.

Our vision for taking forward practice research takes account of national and local health policy and the drivers that are currently affecting the developing roles of pharmacy staff.  

Linking cutting-edge laboratory research with the day-to-day professional practice of pharmacy, we align our applied research approach with policy agendas aimed at improving the quality of pharmacy practice. Examples include developing a scientific rationale for both personalising and standardising cancer chemotherapy where appropriate, and evaluating new technologies to reduce the risk of occupational exposure to hazardous medicines for healthcare professionals.

We offer consultancy, in collaboration with our academic colleagues in social care, on the safety of storage and administration of medicines in care homes. 

Our applied research approach lends well to carrying out evaluations of pharmaceutical care services such as the provision of Monitored Dosage Systems or other medication systems designed for domiciliary or residential use. A strength of our group is that we have scientists with world-leading experience in using Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry in healthcare applications. Analytical techniques have already been developed to analyse drugs derived from ‘finger-prick’ blood spots that enable improvements to be made in monitoring medicines in newborn babies and facilitate the development of personalised medicine for individual patients. The aim of both of these areas of research is to improve patient care. We have extended this research to the measurement of drug blood levels as a basis for assessing the medication-taking behaviour of cardiovascular patients. Dried blood spot analysis.

A new and rapidly developing area of research concerns the rapid identification of counterfeit medicines. The growing menace of counterfeit or fake medicines presents a serious and increasing threat to patient safety and public health globally. Estimates indicate that about 10 per cent of medicines worldwide are counterfeits and this figure rises to 30 per cent in low- and middle-income countries such as Africa. Doctors Sangeeta Tanna and Graham Lawson have conducted research into simpler and faster ways of identifying counterfeit medicines.

  • Medicine optimisation
  • Travel and Global Health
  • Optimisation for personalisation and standardisation of cancer chemotherapy
  • Global Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
  • Antimicrobial use and prescribing
  • Global Laboratory-based Pharmacy Practice Research (Therapeutic Drug Monitoring (TDM) Research, Counterfeit Medicines Research)
  • Pharmacy Education between theory and practice and Interprofessional Education
  • Public and patient engagement in pharmacy practice
  • Reducing occupational exposure and environmental risk to hazardous medicines
  • Documentation, recording and patient safety in pharmacy practice

Lead Contact: Professor Graham Sewell, Professor of Pharmacy Practice

Leicester School of Pharmacy
De Montfort University
Edith Murphy House Rm H28
Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: 0116 250 8289
E: graham.sewell@dmu.ac.uk

Pedagogic research

The pedagogic research group has an overarching interest in the processes and practices of learning, teaching and assessment. Members of the group are actively engaged in teaching in the areas of pharmaceutical science, forensic science, mathematics, pharmacy practice and pharmacology on undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The group’s research interests include learning in practice, in interprofessional education opportunities and simulated environments; student engagement in active learning activities and the impact of these activities on their learning; development of personal and professional identity and the development of learning and teaching that supports a diverse student population.

The ultimate aim of the group’s work is to inform the development of our own learning, teaching and assessment practice and that of the wider academic community. 

  • Learner Centred Education
  • Interprofessional Learning
  • Experiential learning/learning in practice
  • Active learning prerequisites
  • Professional identity development
  • Delivery for knowledge integration

Lead Contact: Dr Tania Webb, Associate Professor in Molecular Pharmacology

De Montfort University
Hawthorn Building, Room 1.17
The Gateway Leicester LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 250 7136
E: tewebb@dmu.ac.uk

 
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