Creating an antiviral lipbalm (MPhil Scholarship)

KESS 2 MPhil in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences: Creating an antiviral lipbalm

School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Cardiff University

Project ID: CUK270
Annual Stipend: Stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum
Application Deadline: 31 May 2018

Project Description

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships 2 (KESS2) is a pan-Wales higher-level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the Higher Education sector in Wales. It is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) West Wales and the Valleys programme, by partners from the West Wales and the Valleys areas of Wales, and by Cardiff University.

Nature is a rich source of pharmaceutical products and for thousands of years the people of Wales used products such as honey and plant extracts to treat their ailments. In the face of raising antibiotic and antiviral resistance we are keen to look to nature to identify new drugs to help us combat this growing threat.

In an earlier KESS supported PhD studentship on pharmabees we identified honey samples and plants which contained antibacterial compounds capable of killing hospital superbugs such as Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In subsequent studies we have shown that these plants also contain antiviral compounds raising the possibility of developing formulations capable of treating viral and bacterial pathogens. While these laboratory based studies are promising their full potential will only be realised if they are translated into real world products.

We were recently approached by Pharmavet, a Welsh company who are looking to develop a new product range which incorporates Welsh “natural” products to produce nutraceuticals with the potential to promote health. The first product to be developed, and the subject of this proposal, will be a lip balm in which we will combine an existing formulation developed by the company with selected antimicrobial plants identified from our research.

This approach presents two major technical challenges:

  1. The development of extraction techniques which maximise the recovery of antimicrobial compounds from each plant. The systems used will depend on the nature of the organic material and the polarity of the antimicrobial compounds. A range of solvents will be employed to identify the optimum extraction approach.
  2. To identify the concentration of each plant extract which when combined with the lip balm base maximises antimicrobial activity but does not adversely effect the physical properties of the balm. Using in house laboratory assays we will determine the impact, if any, of different plant extracts on the antimicrobial activity of the lip balm.

Finally you will work with Pharmavet to develop a marketing strategy which highlights the link with the universities research and maximises the chances of the product being a commercial success. Through this process you will gain a unique perspective of the challenges faced when transitioning laboratory ideas to the market place.

To be eligible, the successful candidate will need to be resident in the convergence area of Wales (West Wales and the Valleys) on registration, and must have the right to work in the region on qualification.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) is a pan-Wales higher level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys.