Portrait of  Rachel Sully

Rachel Sully

Research Student


Research topic: Nanoparticle-Infused-Biodegradable-Microneedle-Technology as Drug Delivery Systems

University of Kent, School of Physical Sciences, MChem

Research interests

Melanoma affects over 200,000 people in the UK alone, with survival rates of around 86%. Over the last decade melanoma skin cancer incidence rates for males and females combined increased by 50%. The current main treatments of skin-cancer are surgery to remove the affected area, as well as chemotherapy/radiotherapy and immunotherapy to kill the tumour cells. However, around 33,000 people still die within the first five years after diagnosis and treatment. The purpose of this research is to explore the possible development of a new nanomedicine technology that uses anti-cancer drug doped-nanoparticles to kill tumour cells. Nanoparticles are held in solution which can lead to aggregation, making them undesirable as drug delivery systems. The proposed solution to this is to formulate the nanoparticles into a microneedle array made from methylcellulose gels. In solution, nanoparticles are subject to Brownian motion and tend to aggregate, however when formulated into a gel-like microneedle patch, the aggregation is prevented. Methylcellulose is used specifically because it is biodegradable and will degrade by enzymatic reaction in the epidermis, thus releasing nanoparticles into the microenvironment. To observe the disintegration of microneedles and the release of the drug-doped nanoparticles in the skin, optical coherence tomography (OCT) will be used. OCT is a non-invasive imaging technique used to take cross-section images of tissues. Although OCT has been used widely in ophthalmology, the use of OCT to image the skin is still relatively new.


Supervisors: Dr Vladimir Gubala and Dr Adrian Podoleanu

Research Group: Chemistry and Drug Delivery 



F. Kunc, C. J. Moore, R. E. Sully, A. J. Hall and V. Gubala, Langmuir, 2019, 35, 4909–4917

Conference Activities: 

GRADnet Induction Day
The 5th London Polymer Group Symposium
Presented a poster at MacroGroup UK Young Researchers Meeting
Presented a poster at and moderated the joint conference 31st Nano Congress for Future Advancements and 13th Edition of International Conference on Nanomedicine and Advanced Drug Delivery

Outreach Activities: 

Year 10 Summer School at University of Kent Canterbury
Mock Interviews for Pupils and Rainham Mark School
Peterborough Science Festival
Career Fairs at Bexley Grammar School, Dartford Grammar School and Bethany School