Our research facilities are located either within the School itself, or in the Science Faculty Infrastructure Platforms , and each of these platforms is managed by an academic lead and a dedicated technician. There are a number of Norwich Research Park Facilities More extensive advanced proteomics facilities are available at the John Innes Centre/Sainsbury Lab. A new ICP-QQQ-MS instrument for elemental analysis was recently installed (BBSRC, £350K). Researchers also have ready access to facilities for rapid reaction kinetics, calorimetry and ultracentrifugation.
We have expertise in:
Advanced characterisation of pharmaceutical materials:
Research in the cluster of Pharmaceutical Materials and Soft Matter is supported by a plethora of advanced characterisation tools which are capable of probing structure and properties of advanced pharmaceutical materials at different length scales (Qi, Khimyak, Fabian, Round). We have expertise and experimental capability in:
- Thermal methods
- (Differential Scanning Calorimerty, Thermogravimetric analysis, Dynamic Vapour Sorption) (Qi, Fabian, Khimyak)
- Surface area and porosity analysis (Khimyak)
- Spectroscopic methods (Qi, Fabian)
- Assembly and characterisation of the soft matter (Rheology (Qi, Wallace, Khimyak))
- Atomic Force Microscopy and Atomic Force Spectroscopy (Round)
Advanced formulation methodologies
The pharmaceutical materials cluster has state-of-the-art capability in advanced formulation methodologies (Qi, Saeed). These are supported by a wide range of instrumentation including: hot melt extruder, injection moulding machine, filament maker, FDM 3D printer, microfludics system for micro- and nanoparticles generation, electrospinning system, electrospraying system, nanoelectrospraying rig, MicroDrop dispenser, texture analyser, high pressure homogeniser, LB monolayer trough with Brewster Angle microscope and few other generic pieces of instruments such as HPLC.
In vitro cell models and bio-imaging
Expertise in the School of Pharmacy covers a number of physiological systems from the circulatory, lung, immune, gut and skin. Tissue culture and cancer cell lines are used to study cancer growth and progression (Mueller, Morris, Sobolewski) and as models for immune cell responses in inflammation and health and for drug screening. (O’Connell, Stokes, Morris). In vitro hydrogel systems are used to study the role of the mechanical environment on vascular cell function (Warren). The Department also has a Flexstation3 apparatus utilised for fluorescent drug screening assays (Stokes).
Primary cell models: Isolation and culture of primary tissues and cells is a mainstay in the School of Pharmacy. Cells used include vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells (Warren), immune cells (Sobolewski and Stokes), lung epithelial (Sobolewski), primary melanocyte/melanoma (Morris) and retinal cells (Sanderson).
3-D ex vivo models: The Sanderson lab has developed organotypical cultures of the human retina to study retinal degeneration, and uses this platform to assess toxicity of drug in the retinal through collaboration with Sheng Qi’s group in Pharmacy. We also have expertise in 3-D culture of lung tumouroids and primary gut organoids, in conjunction with different immune cell types (macrophages and granulocytes); either differentiated from bone marrow or isolated from tissue (Sobolewski). An ex vivo isolated perfused lung model is also available to study solute and drug transport between airway and vascular compartments (Morris)
2D Hydrogel systems: The Warren lab use hydrogel systems to better mimic the mechanical cues observed in normal and diseased vascular tissue. These systems also allow for the control of cellular alignment and organisation.
Bio-imaging: There is considerable expertise in both fixed and live cell wide field and confocal microscopy and the associated downstream analysis (Mueller, Morris, Stokes, Sobolewski, Warren). We perform a range of image analysis to determine cell morphology parameters, including area, shape, volume, F-actin cable alignment and fluorescence intensity (Mueller, Sobolewski, Warren). We also have expertise in tracking software, that we utilise measure changes in cell morphology, cell migration and traction force (Morris, Warren). We also have a number of active collaborations that are seeking to develop novel imaging-based muscle cell contractile assays (Warren). In addition, we have patch clamp expertise in the Stokes Laboratory.
Other technical expertise
We employ a range of standard experimental techniques ranging from Western blotting, qPCR, flow cytometry, reporter assays and ELISAs (Molecular and Tissue Pharmacology cluster). We also have specialised expertise in phage display technology and proteomics for identification of new disease targets (Morris) and SNP analysis of DNA and haplotype prediction (Stokes).