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Press release

Press release

Doctoral Thesis on the potential of silica-based nanoparticles in pharmacy

Rawand Mustafa.
Rawand Mustafa

M.Sc. Rawand Mustafa’s doctoral thesis in pharmacy will be put forth for public defence at the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Åbo Akademi University.

The thesis is entitled Silica core@shell Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications.

The public defence of the doctoral thesis takes place on Friday 31 may 2024, at 1.15 p.m. in the Argentum auditorium, Aurum building, Henrikinkatu 2, Turku. Professor Gøril Eide Flaten, UiT Arctic University of Norway, will serve as opponent and Professor Hongbo Zhang, Åbo Akademi University, as custos. You can also follow the defence online.


This thesis focuses on improving treatment outcomes in serious conditions such as cancer, infections caused by biofilms, and hearing loss via nanotechnology-based drug delivery. Nanotechnology enables the creation of extremely small particles that can carry drugs to the diseased cells and making treatments more effective, reducing harmful side effects on healthy cells, ensuring patient compliance, and even enabling new medical treatments.

Cancer remains a leading cause of death globally, and finding better ways to deliver drugs is crucial for improving treatments. Traditional chemotherapy often has drawbacks like harming healthy cells and not reaching tumours effectively. Similarly, hearing loss affects millions worldwide, but treating inner ear conditions with systemic drugs can cause side effects. Local administration is risky and invasive, while barriers in the ear limit drug permeation. Biofilms, that are responsible for many infections, are tough to treat because they form protective layers that resist antibiotics. This makes them up to 1000 times harder to kill than single bacteria.

Addressing these challenges, this doctoral thesis presents using nanoparticles (tiny delivery trucks for drugs) called silica core@shell nanoparticles, by combining different materials in a so-called core@shell design. These nanoparticles can perform multiple tasks, making them useful in treating these challenges. In one part of the study, these nanoparticles were tested for cancer treatment. The nanoparticles release drugs when triggered by light or pH changes, making them effective in delivering drugs directly to tumours while reducing the amount drug needed and prolonging the release time i.e. duration of treatment. They also showed promise in killing cancer cells while preserving healthy tissue. Additionally, this thesis explored using these nanoparticles to treat hearing loss by enhancing drug delivery to the inner ear using light as a drug permeability enhancer and release trigger. The study also developed a new method to understand how these nanoparticles interact with bacterial biofilms, which could improve infection treatments.

Overall, this research shows the potential of silica-based core@shell nanoparticles in pharmacy. They can be tailored for different treatments, offering hope for improved patient outcomes. As this field progresses, these nanoparticles could open up new possibilities for drug delivery and medical treatments, ultimately improving patient care and quality of life.

Rawand Mustafa can be reached by phone 041 704 2573 or email rawand.mustafa@abo.fi.

The doctoral thesis can be read online through the Doria publication archive.

Click here for a press photo of the doctoral student.

Instructions for following the doctoral defence remotely:

To follow the defence, you need the Zoom software or the Google Chrome browser. You do not need to create a Zoom account to follow the defence. If you install the application, you participate by clicking on the meeting link, after which you should allow the link to open in the Zoom app.