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

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)

School of Chemistry, Bangor University, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, UK

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

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


News: December 2017

We have another postdoc post available please see our jobs and opportunities page


News: December 2017

Gwenin - Applied Research in Chemistry and Public Health (ARCH)Dr Robert Hobbs will be attending the UK HealthTech conference delivered by Mediwales that will be held in Cardiff on 5th December. It is hoped that new valuable links and collaborations can be formed at the event for the both the ARCH research group and CALIN. The event promises to provide the latest insights and strategic trends for both the life science and health technology communities.

News: November 2017

Dr Robert Hobbs was invited to present at the Academic Grand Round held at Ysbty Gwynedd on 10th November.

health board

News: October 2017

New clinical health board links have been formedNWCRC