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North West Centre for Advanced Drug Delivery (NoWCADD)

Translating drug delivery science into treatments for serious and life-threatening conditions.

The North West Centre for Advanced Drug Delivery (NoWCADD) is a translational science centre based at The University of Manchester's Division of Pharmacy and Optometry and is funded through a collaboration with AstraZeneca's Pharmaceutical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Technology and Development departments.

We aim to:

  • transform emerging drug delivery science into value medicines for treating serious and life-threatening conditions;
  • identify talented students and stimulate their interest in early career pharmaceutical science roles in industry;
  • create collaborative R&D programmes with research groups in Manchester and more widely across the global scientific community.

What we do

We develop new technologies to selectively deliver therapeutic entities to sites of biological activity. Our core expertise is in colloidal systems and nano-sized structures (micelles, vesicles, nanotubes and nanoparticles) that promote selective accumulation of therapeutic agents (small molecules and nucleic acids) in solid tumours to facilitate improved exposure in cancer cells.

We also maintain a watching brief on technologies with the potential to help treat cardiovascular, metabolic, respiratory, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

We aim to develop collaborations with other groups in the Manchester academic and NHS network while building key strategic connections with high-profile research groups across the global scientific community.


Research project highlights

Our current research activities include the following projects:

  • Scalable and reproducible manufacturing methods for advanced drug delivery systems – N Tirelli, R Donno and K Hill.
  • Novel drug delivery applications for chitosan/hyaluronic acid nanoparticles – N Tirelli, E Lallana-Ozores, S Puri, R Booth, M Ashford.
  • Novel applications of carbon nanotubes in drug delivery – K Kostorelos, Z Al-Ahmady, S Puri, R Booth, M Ashford.
  • Novel uses for hydrogels in the delivery of drugs – A Miller, N Tirelli, R Donno, S Puri and M Ashford.
  • New approaches for the manufacture of advanced liposomal formulations – Z Al-Ahmady, R Donno, M Ashford, N Tirelli and K Kostarelos.
  • Functional carriers for understanding nanoparticle trafficking – R Donno, S Puri, P Caswell and N Tirelli.
  • Preparation of polymeric stealth nanoparticles for tumour targeting – E Lallana-Ozores, M Ashford and N Tirelli.

Developing the next generation of pharmaceutical scientists

Our programme of education and training aims to inspire students about the early career opportunities in industry while equipping them with the baseline skills, capabilities and knowledge to work in the pharmaceutical sciences.

Regular exposure to practicing industry scientists through industrial visit days, guest lectures and research projects provides further support for those students considering a role in industry after graduation.

Students on the Master of Pharmacy (MPharm) course at Manchester receive an initial introduction to the roles of the industrial pharmacist in Year 1, before taking part in visits to AstraZeneca's Macclesfield campus in Years 2 and 3.

Final year research projects co-supervised by AstraZeneca staff are also available to high-performing students with an interest in future industry roles.

Our experimental facilities

Excellent experimental facilities are at the core of NoWCADD.

Our analytical services hinge on the characterisation of nano-carriers and colloidal matter (nanoparticles, micelles, aggregates and soluble polymers). We specifically focus on their dimensional characterisation in aqueous environments using dynamic and static light scattering, field flow fractionation, laser diffraction, GPC and AFM.

We also have state-of-the-art facilities for polymer and nanoparticle synthesis, including several Radleys parallel reactors, a glove box, and an Asia 320 microfluidic station.

Our collaboration with AstraZeneca also means that we have access to staff experienced in the design, development and commercialisation of innovative medicines, offering opportunities to access AstraZeneca's infrastructure.

Our collaborations

Our partnership with AstraZeneca has been instrumental in the creation and growth of NoWCADD.

AstraZeneca has made a long-term commitment to building an internationally recognised centre in advanced drug delivery in the heart of north-west England.

The close proximity of the University and AstraZeneca's Macclesfield Campus provides a strong foundation for scientific collaboration, excellence in education and pathways to societal impact of new and innovative technologies.

We are now looking for further collaborations in advanced drug delivery to progress newer and better medicinal products into clinical development, working with our partners at AstraZeneca.

Researcher pouring suspension into a flask

Why collaborate with NoWCADD?

The benefits of collaborating with us include access to expertise, infrastructure and resources to catalyse initial studies, with a longer-term view to securing collaborative research funding and industry investment.

Collaborations with groups outside of NoWCADD's core science team can take place in two ways:

Access to seed funding and resources

We will work with collaborators on short focused feasibility projects aimed at identifying new product and technology opportunities. Experimental resources and funding for consumables will be provided through NoWCADD.

The project team will work closely with scientists at AstraZeneca to plan and deliver the projects, with some opportunities for access to industry expertise and infrastructure where relevant.

Further investment will be sought if positive outcomes are achieved in initial feasibility projects.

Joint collaborative funding

We will seek opportunities for joint collaborative funding bids where complementary skills exist within NoWCADD and AstraZeneca. AstraZeneca will be an active participant in these bids, with options to provide cash and in-kind contributions to projects.

Outputs from successfully funded programmes will be used to support business cases for investment from AstraZeneca and other sources of funding.

We will also seek opportunities for creating collaborative development partnerships, with AstraZeneca playing a pivotal role in pathways to impact.

Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester - exterior.

EUPAT9 - Innovations in Manufacturing Science to Deliver Future Therapies

This conference is on 15 and 16 May 2018, at The Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), Manchester. It will showcase the best in Pharmaceutical Science

The conference will be preceded by a pre-conference workshop focused on ‘Innovations in the design, manufacture and analysis of nanomedicines’ on 14 May 2018 at Manchester Meeting Place.

Delegates on the preconference workshop will experience a site visit to AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield campus in nearby Cheshire. You will get the chance to tour the product development facility and meet staff involved in developing the next generation of nanomedicines.

Our team

Please contact a member of our team to discuss any aspect of our work.

M Jayne Lawrence

Professor of Biophysical Pharmaceutics

Tel: +44 (0)161 2755594

Professor Kostas Kostarelos

Principal investigator

Tel: +44 (0)161 275 0214


Interested in collaborating?

Learn more about models for collaboration and joint research, contact:

Professor Nicola Tirelli (NoWCADD Director)
Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 2480

Dr Marcel de Matas (Programme Manager)