Design and synthesis of architectural polymers applied to molecular imaging and drug delivery in nanomedicine

Assoc Prof Thurecht’s research focusses on the development of polymer and nanoparticle-based devices for nanomedicine. For polymers to be truly effective in nanomedicine, they must incorporate new therapies while maintaining their physical and chemical integrity. This can only be achieved by developing a strong understanding of the fundamental properties of the nanomaterial-delivery system, in addition to identifying and successfully delivering new therapies. Central to the development of these future therapeutic platforms, is the field of theranostics, where molecular imaging plays a key role in understanding the dynamics of polymeric nanomedicines. Assoc Prof Thurecht’s team works across the boundaries of chemistry and materials, biology and imaging science to probe how nanomaterial properties affect their function in living animals. The team particularly focusses on utilising advanced molecular imaging to investigate the intricate interplay between structure and function of nanomaterial in vivo.​


Associate Professor Kris Thurecht is an Australian Research Council (ARC) Future Fellow with appointments at AIBN and UQ’s Centre for Advanced Imaging. Associate Professor Thurecht has been recognised for scientific excellence with a 2012 Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award and a 2010 UQ Foundation Research Excellence Award for his work in developing polymer ‘theranostics’. In 2015 he was recognised by the Royal Australian Chemical Institute Polymer Division through award of the David Sangster Polymer Science and Technology Award for scientific excellence for a mid-career researcher. Since obtaining his PhD in 2005, he has been the recipient of four competitive national and international fellowships, the latest being an ARC Future Fellowship. He has contributed scientific and review articles to various leading journals in his field, including invited articles in the Emerging Young Investigator issue of Chemical Communications and a Young Talent article in Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics. Associate Professor Thurecht has been chief investigator on grants from various funding bodies, including ARC Discovery grants; ARC Linkage Grants, with both national and international companies; National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) grants; and funding from various cancer foundations. He is co-inventor on three patents. He is also CI on two major ARC Centres: The ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology and the ARC Training Centre for Innovation in BioMedical Imaging Technology.​

Industry Engagement

A/Prof Thurecht has an active history of engagement with industry, including through ARC Linkage grants with international (Eli Lilly) and national (InterK Peptide Therapeutics) companies. His team is also actively engaged in research contract work with a number of companies, including Minomic International, Samyang and Clarity Pharmaceuticals. He is also CI on the recently awarded ARC Training Centre for Innovation in Biomedical Imaging Technology, which is a doctoral training centre bringing together more than 10 companies to help train the next generation of industry-ready scientists in Australia.​

Collaborations

A/Prof. Thurecht collaborates extensively across Australia and internationally. Within Australia, he works closely with a number of researchers within the nanomedicine field. In Sydney, this is primarily with Prof. Martina Stenzel and Prof. Maria Kavallaris. In Melbourne he works with researchers at the University of Melbourne (Prof. Frank Caruso, Dr Georgina Such and Prof. Stephen Kent) and at Monash University (Prof. Chris Porter, Dr Angus Johnston, Dr Kristian Kempe, Dr Angus Johnston).  Internationally, A/Prof. Thurecht has strongest ties with researchers in Europe, mainly Profs. Cameron Alexander, Steve Howdle and Derek Irvine in Nottingham University and Prof. Rachel O'Reilly in Warwick.​

Key Publications

Rolfe BE, Blakey I, Squires O, Peng H, Boase NRB, Alexander C, et al. "Multimodal Polymer Nanoparticles with Combined 19F Magnetic Resonance and Optical Detection for Tunable, Targeted, Multimodal Imaging in vivo". Journal of the American Chemical Society. 136:2413-9 (2014).

Thurecht, K.J., Blakey, I., Peng, H., Squires, O., Hsu, S., Alexander, C., Whittaker, A.K. (2010). "Functional Hyperbranched Polymers: Towards Targeted in vivo 19F MRI using Designed Macromolecules" Journal of the American Chemical Society. 132, 5336-5337.

Howard, C., Fletcher, N., Houston, Z., Fuchs, A., Boase N., Simpson.J., Raftery L., Jones M., de Bakker, C., Mahler, S. and Thurecht, KJ.  (2016). "Overcoming instability of antibody-nanomaterial conjugates: Next generation targeted nanomedicines using bispecific antibodies". Advanced Healthcare Materials. 5(16), 2055-2068. 
 
NRB Boase, I Blakey, BE Rolfe, K Mardon and KJ Thurecht (2014). "Synthesis of multimodal molecular imaging probe based on a hyperbranched polymer architecture". Polymer Chemistry. 5(15), 4450-4458. 
 
Coles DJ, Rolfe BE, Boase NRB, Veedu RN, Thurecht KJ. (2013) "Aptamer-targeted hyperbranched polymers: towards greater specificity for tumours in vivo". Chemical Communications (Cambridge, United Kingdom). 49:3836-8.

Full list of publications available on espace

​Funding

A/Prof Thurecht has been CI on grants worth over $36M, including co-CI in two major ARC Centres. He has been lead CI (CIA) in successful research grants across various schemes, including: ARC Discovery, Linkage, LIEF and Future Fellowship; NHMRC Project grants; and funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation
.