Drug delivery

drug del header

Project introduction

Nitroreductases are enzymes of which the true biological roles are still being elucidated, but have the ability to react with nitro-groups either on explosives or prodrugs, and are thus of interest for explosive detection, bioremediation and cancer prodrug therapy.

This project has its interests in cancer prodrug therapy (chemotherapy) specifically, a novel method to deliver nitroreductases to solid tumours. The novel method is based on the use of gold-coated magnetic nanoparticles (Au-MNPs) as a delivery vehicle for bacterial nitroreductases to solid tumours using a focused magnetic beam. This method hopes to overcome the current limitation of poor enzyme expression and inefficient tumour targeting.

Importantly, the Au-MNPs required for this project cannot be obtained commercially, and we have optimised a method to synthesise these in-house. One branch of this research is further optimisation of the current protocol as well as producing particles of various sizes. Also, the identification and expression of known and novel nitroreductases are an on-going activity in order to select enzymes with greater efficiency than the most studied NfnB from E. coli. This work includes characterising novel enzymes and their enzyme products using HPLC and NMR. We are also investigating the cytotoxicity of enzyme-nanoparticle conjugates on cancer cell lines in order to select the best combinations for testing in mouse trials. Last but not least, we aim to determine the nanotoxicology (biodegradation, elimination, distribution, etc.) of the bare and conjugated nanoparticles. Understanding the impact of nanoparticles is part of the recommendations made by the House of Lords Science and Technology select committee.


  • Drug activation carrier, WO2011026898-A2; WO2011026898-A3; EP2473197-A2; US2012232328-A1; EP2473197B
  • V. V. Gwenin, P. Paramasivan, J. Halliwell, P. Ball, G. Robinson, C. D. Gwenin, Identification of novel nitroreductases from Bacillus cereus and their interaction with the CB1954 prodrug, Biochemical Pharmacology, 98 392-402 (2015) DOI: 10.1016/j.bcp.2015.09.01
  • V. V. Gwenin, C. D. Gwenin, M. Kalaji, Colloidal gold modified with a genetically engineered nitroreductase: Towards a novel enzyme delivery system for cancer prodrug therapy. Langmuir, 2011, 27, 14300 DOI: 10.1021/la202951p
  • P. Ball, E. Thompson, S. Anderson, V. Gwenin, C. Gwenin, Time dependant HPLC analysis of the product ratio of enzymatically reduced prodrug CB1954 by a modified and immobilised nitroreductase, European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 127 (2019) 217-224 DOI.org/10.1016/j.ejps.2018.11.001

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

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Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)

College of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2DG, UK

Direct Line: 0044 1248 383741   email: c.d.gwenin@bangor.ac.uk

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)


CALIN/M-SParc meeting
The Big DayFebruary 8th, 2019
22 days to go.
News: December 2018

Our CALIN/M-SParc meeting flier is now ready

CALIN M-SParc meeting flyer

News: December 2018

Admin Carol Jones_

A warm welcome to Carol who joins us to support the CALIN project

News: November 2018

Our draft agenda is now ready for the CALIN/M-SParc meeting February 8th


News: November 2018

09280987Congratulations to Patrick Ball, Emma Thompson, Simon Anderson, Vanessa Gwenin, on their new European Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences publication

News: October 2018

MSP101-e1532964586693Save the date February 8th 2019

We are currently organising a joint event with the team at M-SParc to promote CALIN and the newly opened Science Park.