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Professor

Helen Townley DPhil

Associate Professor

TEL: 01865 283792

Biography

  • Williams Fund Research Fellow
  • Senior visiting Research Fellow (Engineering Science)
  • Associate Editor, Micro and Nano Letters
Medical Sciences Department Profile

Research Interests

Our research focuses on the use of nanoparticles in cancer for therapy, imaging or drug delivery. The small size of nanoparticles means that they can passively accumulate in tumours due to the enhanced permeation and retention (EPR) effect. The EPR effect is the property by which certain sizes of molecules accumulate more in tumour tissues than in normal tissues. This occurs because newly formed tumour blood vessels are abnormal in form and architecture, and have poorly-aligned endothelial cells with wide fenestrations through which the molecules can pass. Furthermore, tumour tissues lack efficient lymphatic drainage.

Encapsulation of chemotherapy drugs within nanoparticles therefore enables them to be delivered directly to the site of the tumour, reducing systemic side effects, and enabling a higher dose to be reached in the cancerous tissue. Fluorophores and reporter molecules can be added to the nanoparticles for localization, and assessment of the efficacy of the treatment. Microparticle systems have also been developed for chemoembolization, in which the blood supply to the tumour is blocked causing the cancerous tissue to die. Other nanoparticles have also been developed which can be used to enhance the effect of conventional radiotherapy.

Work on natural products as novel chemotherapeutics

We work together with a number of international colleagues on the application of plant and fungi derived compounds for action against cancers.


OTHER NANOPARTICLE APPLICATIONS

In addition to cancer treatments, nanoparticles are useful for many other applications and we have collaborated with groups working, for example, on the use of nanoparticles to combat infertility, and for smart biocide delivery to specifically target harmful bacteria.

Current Projects

  • Improved treatment of glioblastoma using nanoparticle technology
  • Biomimetic nanoparticles for thalassaemia treatment during pregnancy
  • Encapsulation of a natural plant compound for rhabdomyosarcoma treatment
  • Activated chemotherapy using externally activated nanoparticles
  • Nanoparticle treatments to prevent bacterial and fungal post-harvest losses.

Research Groups

Publications

Mun H. and Townley HE (2021) Nanoencapsulation of Plant Volatile Organic Compounds to Improve Their Biological Activities. PLANTA MED 87; 236-251

Khan T, Yasmin A, Townley HE (2020) An evaluation of the activity of biologically synthesized silver nanoparticles against bacteria, fungi and mammalian cell lines.
COLLOIDS SURF B BIOINTERFACES 194, 111156

Thorat ND, Townley HE, Patil RM, Tofail S, Bauer J. (2020) Comprehensive approach of hybrid nanoplatforms in drug delivery and theranostics to combat cancer.
DRUG DISCOVERY TODAY 25, 1245-1252

Huang X. and Townley HE., (2020) An Assessment of Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticle Architectures as Antigen Carriers
PHARMACEUTICS 12, 294 – 294

Fan C, Davison P, Habgood R, Zeng H, Decker CM, Salazar MG, Lueangwattanapong K, Townley HE, Yang A, Thompson IP, Ye H, Cui Z, Schmidt F, Hunter CN, Huang W (2020) Chromosome-free bacterial cells are safe and programmable platforms for synthetic biology
PNAS 117, 6752-6761

Vurro M, Townley HE, Morrison R, Boari A, Masi M, Evidente A (2020) Augmented phytotoxic effect of nanoencapsulated ophiobolin A
NATURAL PRODUCT RESEARCH 21, 1-9

Huang X, Cavalcante D, Townley HE (2020), Macrophage-like THP-1 cells show effective uptake of silica nanoparticles carrying inactivated diphtheria toxoid for vaccination JOURNAL OF NANOPARTICLE RESEARCH 22, 23

Mun H. and Townley HE (2021) Nanoencapsulation of Plant Volatile Organic Compounds to Improve Their Biological Activities. PLANTA MED 87; 236-251

Khan T, Yasmin A, Townley HE (2020) An evaluation of the activity of biologically synthesized silver nanoparticles against bacteria, fungi and mammalian cell lines.
COLLOIDS SURF B BIOINTERFACES 194, 111156

Thorat ND, Townley HE, Patil RM, Tofail S, Bauer J. (2020) Comprehensive approach of hybrid nanoplatforms in drug delivery and theranostics to combat cancer.
DRUG DISCOVERY TODAY 25, 1245-1252

Huang X. and Townley HE., (2020) An Assessment of Mesoporous Silica Nanoparticle Architectures as Antigen Carriers
PHARMACEUTICS 12, 294 – 294

Fan C, Davison P, Habgood R, Zeng H, Decker CM, Salazar MG, Lueangwattanapong K, Townley HE, Yang A, Thompson IP, Ye H, Cui Z, Schmidt F, Hunter CN, Huang W (2020) Chromosome-free bacterial cells are safe and programmable platforms for synthetic biology
PNAS 117, 6752-6761

Vurro M, Townley HE, Morrison R, Boari A, Masi M, Evidente A (2020) Augmented phytotoxic effect of nanoencapsulated ophiobolin A
NATURAL PRODUCT RESEARCH 21, 1-9

Huang X, Cavalcante D, Townley HE (2020), Macrophage-like THP-1 cells show effective uptake of silica nanoparticles carrying inactivated diphtheria toxoid for vaccination JOURNAL OF NANOPARTICLE RESEARCH 22, 23

Duan C, Evison A, Taylor L, Onur S, Morten K, Townley H. (2021) The common diabetes drug metformin can diminish the action of citral against Rhabdomyosarcoma cells in vitro PHYTOTHERAPY RESEARCH 35:1378–1388

Thorat ND, Tofail S, von Rechenberg B, Townley H, Brenna G, Silien C, Yadav HM, Steffen T, Bauer J (2019) Physically stimulated nanotheranostics for next generation cancer therapy: Focus on magnetic and light stimulations
APPLIED PHYSICS REVIEWS 6, 041306 – 041306

Thorat ND, Townley H, Brennan G, Parchur A, Silien C, Bauer J, Tofail S (2019) Progress in Remotely Triggered Hybrid Nanostructures for Next-Generation Brain Cancer Theranostics
ACS BIOMATERIALS SCIENCE & ENGINEERING 5, 2669 – 2687

Krajczewski J, Rucinska K, Townley HE, Kudelski A. Role of various nanoparticles in photodynamic therapy and detection methods of singlet oxygen.
PHOTODIAGNOSIS AND PHOTODYNAMIC THERAPY 26, 162-178

Lu V, Crawshay-Williams F, White B, Elliott A, Hill MA, Townley HE. Cytotoxicity , dose-enhancement and radiosensitization of glioblastoma cells with rare earth nanoparticles. ARTIFICIAL CELLS, NANOMEDICINE, AND BIOTECHNOLOGY 47; 132-143

Sasirekha R, Sheena T, Deepika M, Santhanam P, Townley HET, Jeganthan K, Kumar S, Premkumar K. (2019) Surface engineered Amphora subtropica frustules using chitosan as a drug delivery platform for anticancer therapy. MATERIALS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING C. 94, 56-64

Perring J, Crawshay-Williams F, Huang C, Townley HE. Bio-inspired nanoparticles induce cancer cell death by iron adsorption.
JOURNAL OF MATERIALS SCIENCE: MATERIALS IN MEDICINE 29; 181

Bravo M, Preston GM, Van der Hoorn R, Flanagan N, Townley HE, Thompson I. (2018) Enhancing cinnamon essential oil activity by nanoparticle encapsulation to control seed pathogens. INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PATHOGENS 124, 755-764

Bravo M, Preston G, Van der Hoorn R, Townley HE, Thompson IP. Species-specific antimicrobial activity of essential oils and enhancement by encapsulation in mesoporous silica nanoparticles. INDUSTRIAL CROPS AND PRODUCTS. 122, 582-590.

White B, Evison A, Dombi E, Townley HE (2017) Improved delivery of the anticancer agent citral using BSA nanoparticles and polymeric wafers.
NANOTECHNOLOGY, SCIENCE, AND APPLICATIONS 10, 163-175

Lu V, McDonald K, Townley HE (2017) Realizing the therapeutic potential of rare earth elements in designing nanoparticles to target and treat glioblastoma.
NANOMEDICINE 12, 2389-2401
Huang X, Potter M, Pilgrim B, Ardkhean R, Kabeshov M, Donohoe T, Wiseman M, Morten K, Donohoe T, Townley H (2017). The efficacy of the quercetin analogue LY294002 in immortalized cancer cell lines is related to the oxygenic and metabolic status of cells.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CANCER THERAPY AND ONCOLOGY 5, 51X

Morrison R, Lodge T, Evidente A, Kiss R, Townley HE. (2017) Ophiobolin A, a sesterpenoid fungal phytotoxin, displays different mechanisms of cell death in mammalian cells depending upon the cancer cell origin.
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ONCOLOGY, 50 (3) 773-786

Morrison R, Rybak-Smith M, Thompson J, Thiebaut B, Hill M, Townley HE (2017) Efficacy of radiosensitizing doped titania nanoparticles under hypoxia and preparation of an embolic microparticle
INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NANOMEDICINE, 12, 3851-3863

Chan A, Bravo M, Townley H, Fricker M, Thompson I (2017) Effective delivery of volatile biocides employing mesoporous silicates for treating biofilms.
JOURNAL OF ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE 14; 20160650

Jeynes JCG, Jeynes C, Palitsin V & Townley HE. (2016) Direct quantification of rare earth doped titania nanoparticles in individual human cells
NANOTECHNOLOGY 27; 285103

Huang X & Townley HE (2016) Knock-down of ELMO1 in Paediatric Rhabdomyosarcoma cells by nanoparticle mediated siRNA delivery.
NANOBIOMEDICINE 3; 4

Parker A & Townley HE (2015) Making photonic structures via cell culture: Morpho butterfly scales. BIOINSPIRED, BIOMIMETIC AND NANOBIOMATERIALS 4; 68-72

Barkalina N, Jones C, Townley H, Coward K (2015) Functionalization of mesoporous silica nanoparticles with a cell-penetrating peptide to target mammalian sperm in vitro. NANOMEDICINE 10; 1539-1553

Morrison, R., Thompson, J., Bird, L., Hill, M.A., Townley, HE. (2015) Synthesis and characterization of polystyrene embolization particles doped with tantalum oxide nanoparticles for X-ray contrast. MATERIALS SCIENCE: MATERIALS IN MEDICINE 26; 218

Rybak-Smith M & Townley HE (2015) Inorganic nanoparticle radiosensitizers for cancer therapies. Encyclopaedia of Nanotechnology.

Morrison R, Gardiner C, Evidente A, Kiss R, Townley HE (2014) Incorporation of Ophiobolin A Into novel chemoembolization particles for cancer treatment.
PHARM RES. 31; 2904-2917

Huang X, Young N, & Townley HE (2014) Characterization and comparison of mesoporous
silica particles for optimized drug delivery’
NANOMATER NANOTECHNOL 4; 2

Barkalina N, Jones C, Kashir J, Coote S, Huang X, Morrison R, Townley HE, Coward K (2014) Effects of mesoporous Silica nanoparticles upon the function of mammalian sperm in vitro. NANOMEDICINE: NANOTECHNOLOGY, BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 10; 859-870

Townley HE, Zheng Y, Goldsmith J, Stratford M, Dobson P, Ahmed A. (2015) A novel biosensor for quantitiative monitoring of on-target activity of paclitaxel’
NANOSCALE 7; 1127-1135

Townley HE (2013) Applications of the lanthanide rare earths in cancer imaging and therapy
CURRENT NANOSCIENCE 9; 686-691

Townley HE, Kim J, Dobson P. (2012) In vivo demonstration of enhanced radiotherapy using Rare Earth doped Titania Nanoparticles.
NANOSCALE 4; 5043-50

Townley HE, Wakefield G, Dobson PJ (2013) Nanoparticle augmented radiation treatment decreases cancer cell proliferation
NANOMEDICINE: NANOTECHNOLOGY, BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 9; 304

Townley HE, Rapa E, Wakefield G, Dobson PJ (2012) Nanoparticle augmented radiation treatment decreases cancer cell proliferation
NANOMEDICINE: NANOTECHNOLOGY, BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE. 8; 526-536.

Townley HE. Book chapter.
Diatom Frustules: Physical, Optical, and Biotechnological applications.
In ‘The diatom world’, Springer, 2011, eds. Seckbach, J; Kociolek, P ISBN 978-94-1326-0

Parker AR & Townley HE (2009) Nanoscience and Technology: A collection of Reviews from Nature Journals.

Parker, AR & Townley, HE (2007) Biomimetics of Optical Structures in Nature
NATURE NANOTECHNOLOGY 2, 347 – 353
Impact factor 35, 402 citations

Townley HE, Woon KL, Payne F, White-Cooper H, & Parker AR (2007) Modification of the physical and optical properties of the frustule of the diatom Coscinodiscus wailesii by Nickel sulphate.
NANOTECHNOLOGY 18, 295101 doi: 10.1088/0957-4484/18/29/295101

Townley HE, Parker AR, & White-Cooper H (2008) Exploitation of Diatom frustules for Nanotechnology: Tethering active biomolecules.
ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS, 18, 369-374 doi: 10.1002/adfm.200700609
Rutherford S, Brandizzi F, Townley HE, Craft J, Wang J, Jepson I, Martinez A, & Moore I (2005) Improved transcriptional activators and their use in mis-expression traps in Arabidopsis.
PLANT JOURNAL 43 (5) 76 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2005.02486.x

Wielopolska, A., Townley, H., Moore, I., Waterhouse, P., Helliwell, C. (2005) A high-throughput inducible RNAi vector for plants.
PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY JOURNAL 3 (6), pp. 583-590 doi; 10.1111/j.1467-7652.2005.00149.x

Craft J, Samalova M, Baroux C, Townley H, Martinez A, Jepson I, Tsiantis M, Moore I. (2005) New pOp/LhG4 vectors for stringent glucocorticoid-dependent transgene expression in Arabidopsis
PLANT JOURNAL 41 (6), pp. 899-918 doi: 10.1111/j.1365-313X.2005.02342.x

Townley HE, MacDonald K, Jenkins GI, Knight MR& Leaver CJ (2005)
Ceramides induce programmed cell death in Arabidopsis cells in a calcium-dependent manner
BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY 386(2):161 doi: 10.1515/BC.2005.020

Townley, HE & Knight, MR (2002) Calmodulin as a potential negative regulator of Arabidopsis COR gene expression.
PLANT PHYSIOLOGY 128, 1169-1172 doi: 10.1104/pp.010814.ATG

Townley HE, Sessions RB, Clarke AR, Dafforn TR, Griffiths, WT. (2001) Protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase: A homology model examined by site-directed mutagenesis.
PROTEINS: STRUCTURE, FUNCTION AND GENETICS 44 (3), pp. 329-335