Workshop on drug delivery to the brain – 4th May 2018

by Emma Campbell, PhD - Children's Brain Tumour Drug Delivery Consortium

The force was definitely with us this Star Wars day as we held our inaugural workshop on drug delivery to the brain on 4th May 2018. The sun was shining as we welcomed 52 delegates to Asia House in London.

Asia House 735 width

The aim was to advance translational research into drug delivery to the brain, by bringing together multidisciplinary researchers and academic clinicians to develop new collaborations and explore potential grant proposals.

‘An excellent event. It was very informative, 
designed to maximally share knowledge and expertise.'

Delegates had two minutes in which to pitch their research and collaborative needs, paving the way for stimulating networking discussions in the afternoon. Several funding bodies shared information on upcoming funding opportunities, and we welcomed contributions from three biotech/pharma companies and a courageous patient representative.

‘The structure of the workshop made it one of the most effective that I have been to.’

Participants came from 12 UK research organisations, ranging from Portsmouth to Edinburgh and Glasgow, with a geographic spread of locations in between (a list of all institutions can be found further down this page). Special thanks go to delegates travelling the extra mile, from Belgium, Spain and Portugal. The scientific disciplines represented were equally diverse, covering chemical and bio-engineering, functional neurosurgery, radiobiology, pharmaceutics, immunology, physics and neuro-oncology (see ‘Expertise’ table further down page).

‘I was able to make several new contacts for future collaborations.’

David Walker speaking 245 x 192
Penny Church speaking 245 x 191
evans speaking 245 x 192

Our objectives for the meeting were to:

  • Provide an opportunity for delegates to meet new people working in the field, increasing their awareness of related research projects and encouraging the exploration of ideas for future grant proposals
  • Provide information on relevant funding calls
  • Facilitate and encourage engagement between academics and industry.

‘We are thinking of sending students to some of the labs that
presented data to learn some techniques.’

From the 34 completed feedback forms returned, 100% of delegates said that the workshop had met these objectives and also that they would recommend we run a similar event in the future. Comments made on the day, and extra feedback emailed to us since the event, have been overwhelmingly encouraging, highlighting the need for this type of specialist forum, and the appetite for developing an active ‘drug delivery to the brain’ network.

We are now looking forwards to building this network further, with colleagues both in the UK and internationally. If you would like to register your interest with the consortium, please fill in your details here.


List of institutions represented at the workshop

Academic institutions

Pharma / biotech

Funding bodies

Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

Imperial College London, UK

King’s College London, UK

Lisbon University, Portugal

National Health Institute Carlos III, Spain

University of Birmingham, UK

University of Bradford, UK

University of Bristol, UK

University of Cambridge, UK

University College London, UK

University of Edinburgh, UK

University of Leeds, UK

University of Newcastle, UK

University of Nottingham, UK

University of Oxford, UK

University of Portsmouth, UK

University of Strathclyde, UK

Fast Track Pharma Limited

Foldyne Research International

Renishaw Plc







Brain Tumour Research

Cancer Research UK

Children with Cancer UK

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

Funding Neuro

The Brain Tumour Charity







Expertise presented at the workshop

Clinical trial design / technological delivery systems


  • Drug selection for specific delivery systems
  • Personalized combinatorial drug selection phenotypic target
  • Treatment combination analysis
  • Surgical Robotics and Imaging Fusion – 4-8 channels multi-purpose
  • Drug selection
  • Trials design and statistical powering for safety

BBB modelling and manipulation


  • Nano particles  / peptides - AA  / biogel delivery systems / microbubbles / viral vectors / exosomes / bacteriophage / silica microparticles
  • USS release microbubble delivery -  echogenic for visualisation
  • Microbubble Targeted USS BBB disruption – drugs in / proteins DNA out
  • Photodynamic therapy

Cavity  / CED / Intra-CSF drug delivery


  • Animal surgery (mouse)
  • Catheter drug delivery techniques
  • Biomaterials hydrogels: paclitaxel, gemcitabine, magnetic targeting
  • PLGA device multi drug device

Delivery routes

  • Intranasal nanoparticle lomustine

Synthetic and analytical chemistry


  • TMZ redesign and analogues
  • Imaging agents
  • Platinum repurposing
  • Drug screening programme
  • Molecular design of combined drugs
  • Assays for drug levels / therapeutic monitoring

Virtual drug design


  • Protein structure, Active site determination, optimization, avoiding toxic targets, molecular transport.
  • OTS 167 targets DIPG – nasal delivery proposed


Pre-clinical research techniques


  • Xenografts
  • Animal models – immune competent
  • In vitro 3D modelling of tumour mircroenvironment

Device development


  • Implant PLGA based tech transfer
  • CED system pre-clinical development

Other disease experience

  • Alzheimer’s Disease, Epilepsy, Anaesthetics

Strategic integration of translational expertise – team building and working – stakeholders