Pharmacy academic awarded medal for research into new materials

A scientist at the University of Reading whose research into novel materials could provide new ways of administering vital drugs is to be presented with an award for his work.

Dr Vitaliy Khutoryanskiy, Reader in Pharmaceutical Materials at Reading’s School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy, has won the 2012 McBain Medal for his ‘visionary’ work in the field of colloid, polymer and interface science.

The medal, a joint award of Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and Society of Chemical Industry (SCI), will be presented to Dr Khutoryanskiy at a one-day symposium in January 2013, at which he will deliver a keynote lecture.

Dr Khutoryanskiy has quickly gained an international reputation for his imaginative work developing new materials. The awards judges said: “His wide-ranging work demonstrates strategic vision, technical facility and ambition, and his publications metrics and record of invited talks show that his work receives widespread attention.”

Dr Khutoryanskiy’s research is focused on the development of new materials to help in the administration of drugs, the treatment of wounds, and technology to contain innovative treatments such as proteins, bacteria and living cells such as stem cells, which could all help in the fight against disease.

His research of the behaviour of water-soluble polymers in solution mixtures has resulted in a number of advances leading to the formulation of nanomaterials, soft and superabsorbent hydrogels, thin films and microcapsules. His research team has extensively studied the ability of various pharmaceutical polymers to ‘stick’ to mucosal surfaces, such as that found in the mouth, stomach or on the surface of the eye, allowing new ways to administer drugs.

This sticking property allows drugs to be retained more easily where they are needed in the body. In the eyes, for example, conventional eye drops are quickly washed away by tears and blinking, but a ‘sticky’ dose allows more drugs to penetrate the eye, making treatments dramatically quicker and more effective.

Hydrogels are also very promising for wound care applications, where their ability to absorb large amounts of biological fluids is used to develop wound dressings that can aid the healing process, provide protection for the newly formed tissue, and can be easily removed without causing a trauma. Dr Khutoryanskiy’s group has recently developed hydrogels that have excellent potential in this area, which are in development with a range of industrial partners.

Dr Khutoryanskiy’s team has also developed different approaches for the encapsulation of proteins, probiotic bacteria and living cells, potentially leading to new approaches for the development and delivery of therapeutic treatments.

Dr Khutoryanskiy said “It is a great honour for me to win this prestigious 2012 McBain Medal, which recognises the research we have been doing for the past 10 years. I am absolutely grateful to a number of my students and collaborators, who contributed to this success.”

Professor Christine Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, congratulated Dr Khutoryanskiy on his award.

“I was delighted to receive the news of Dr Khutoryanskiy’s award of the prestigious McBain Medal for 2012,” she said.

“This is due recognition for the excellent work he has done on polymer drug delivery systems and brings great credit to himself, his team and the University. We look forward to the Medal lecture early in 2013.”

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