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Prof Steve Brocchini
  • Professor
  • Pharmaceutics
  • UCL School of Pharmacy
  • Faculty of Life Sciences

Steve obtained a BA in chemistry (Reed College, Portland, OR, USA) working with Marsh Cronyn first to prepare cytotoxic alkylation agents and then to develop non-precious metal catalysts to generate hydrogen gas on-board automobiles (undergraduate thesis). The following year he worked as a metallurgy technician in shape memory alloys (Raychem Corp, Menlo Park, CA, USA) and then he earned a PhD in synthetic chemistry with Richard Lawton (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA) to develop a titanium chelated aldol-dehydration condensation reaction used to make macrocyclisation reagents. After a postdoctoral with Fredric Menger (Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA) to prepare macrocyclic lipids based on archaebacteria lipids, Steve came to the UK to work as a medicinal chemist (Xenova Ltd, Slough,1991-1994).  He then worked with Joachim Kohn (Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA) in polymer chemistry and tissue engineering to develop degradable polymers and methodologies for combinatorial biomaterials development.  Steve joined the UCL School of Pharmacy in late 1997 as a lecturer working with Ruth Duncan to develop new biomedical polymers and polymer-drug conjugates.  He was an academic co-founder of PolyTherics Ltd (www.polytherics.com) in 2000 which moved to independent facilities from its School of Pharmacy laboratory in 2006. After helping to establish the company, Steve resigned as a director in Dec 2012. PolyTherics became Abzena in May 2014 (www.abzena.com) and was admitted on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange in July 2014.

Research Summary

Our research is multi-disciplined, collaborative and clinically driven.  All projects are hypothesis driven and most projects have a stated clinical translational goal. PhD students typically work on a project that is jointly supervised with a collaborator from another area of science. Most students will work in at least two laboratory environments. Projects tend to address three key themes: (i) to optimise pharmacokinetics, (ii) to ensure a conjugate, dosage form or device is stable and (iii) to conduct research that is scalable so there is a plausible pathway for clinical translation.

During the last decade, projects have covered solid dispersions, pulmonary dry powders, particle coating, polymer-drug conjugates and development of degradable biomaterials. More recent research has focused on protein-PEGylation, development of polyvalent medicines, development of soluble polymer-drug complexes and ocular delivery. This is exemplified by a list of PhD dissertations completed and submitted during 2011-2015. 

-Protein PEGylation on protein folding

-Disulfide PEGylation of antibody fragments

-Novel methods of site-specific PEGylation of therapeutic proteins

-Site-selective conjugation at native amino acids

-New bis-alkylation reagents for protein conjugation

-New strategies for protein-to-protein conjugation

-Protein-protein conjugation using interferon

-Site selective peptide conjugation to carrier molecules

-Structural Studies on Glycosylated PAMAM dendrimers

-Polymer solubilised amphotericin B to treat leishmaniasis

-Development of a stable and safe amphotericin B-polymer complex for the treatment of leishmaniasis  

-Local drug delivery of anti-angiogenic medicines for glaucoma filtration surgery

-Development and investigation of implantable tablets for wound healing modulation after trabeculectomy

-The biological effects of slow release implantable tablets for the delivery of anti-scarring agents following glaucoma filtration surgery

Current projects are focused in areas that include (i) chemical-recombinant approaches to develop multifunctional therapeutic proteins, (ii) formulation of protein therapeutics into novel dosage forms, (iii) development of computational pharmaceutics and (iv) new strategies in ocular drug delivery.

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