Biocompatible polymeric nanoparticles for drug/DNA delivery using biologically friendly polymerisation processes

  • Gavin Irvine

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores the synthesis of several different polymeric nanostructures using reversible addition-fragmentation chain transfer (RAFT) polymerisation in both aqueous and ethanolic solutions.

A preface entailing an abstract, contents, common abbreviations and details of where this work has been presented is included.

Chapter 1 provides an introduction to living polymer techniques with an emphasis on RAFT polymerisation as well as the biomedical applications of polymer nanoparticles synthesised via RAFT.

Chapter 2 explores the synthesis of well-defined cross-linked star polymer model networks (CSPMNs) equipped with both acid-labile and non-degradable cores to study potential drug release in acidic conditions. The synthesis of the neutral star polymer precursors to the CSPMNs are also documented. This chapter includes the encapsulation and release of rhodamine B dye from an acid-labile CSPMN.

Chapter 3 further investigates the synthesis of CSPMNs but incorporates a zwitterionic, phospholipid-like monomer alongside a cationic monomer to examine the effect of monomer composition on cell-internalisation properties.

Chapter 4 highlights the formation of amphiphilic benzaldehyde-functionalised polymer nanoparticles using polymerisation induced self-assembly (PISA) alongside RAFT in aqueous conditions. Cross-linking of benzaldehyde-functionalised polymer micelles is explored through addition of an aminooxy cross-linker and analysed via SEM, TEM and DLS.

Chapter 5 shows the formation of benzaldehyde-functionalised polymer latex particles through the use of the single-emulsion solvent evaporation method. The subsequent latex particles are then further functionalised by attachment of an alkene containing small molecule for biomedical applications.

Chapter 6 includes the conclusions and potential future work the thesis results may encourage.

An appendix showing crude proton NMR spectra and crude IR spectra is also included.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2027.
Date of AwardJul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorEfrosyni Themistou (Supervisor), James Burrows (Supervisor) & Panagiotis Manesiotis (Supervisor)


  • Polymeric nanoparticles
  • biocompatible
  • RAFT polymerisation
  • living polymerisation
  • dye release
  • star polymer
  • conjugation
  • drug delivery
  • degradation
  • block copolymers
  • methacrylate
  • self assembly
  • polyethylene glycols
  • polymerisation induced self assembly

Cite this