Ultrasound-Assisted Drug Delivery for Cancer Research

Scientific Context of the Project

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide. Treatment usually includes surgery, radiotherapy, and/or systemic therapy such as chemotherapy. Unfortunately, the chemotherapy drugs used in the cancer treatment affect not only the cancer cells but also the healthy cells by distributing in the other regions of the body, causing as cardiotoxic, nephrotoxic, hematological side effects. Moreover, chemotherapy drugs are extremely susceptible to efflux pumps on the cell membrane pumping anticancer drugs out of cells, a process known as multidrug resistance and thus resulting in intracellular sub-lethal drug concentration and failure of chemotherapy treatment. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new strategies to enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Drug efflux mediated by membranal P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is believed to be one major cause of multidrug resistance. It has been proven that nano-sized drug delivery systems can bypass P-gp mediated drug efflux. Ultrasound has been shown to have the ability to open transient pores in the cell membranes (sonoporation effect) and thus overcome multidrug resistance also in cancer cells, enhancing delivery of drugs through the cell membrane.

Innovative Aspects of the Project

In this project, targeted anticancer drug-loaded nano-sized vesicles will be prepared for a specific cancer model and injected into a tumor-bearing small animal under ultrasound. This study aims to design, preparation and evaluation of a targeted nano-sized drug delivery system which facilitates the drug to accumulate at the tumor site followed by their entry into cancer cells by sonoporation. This study aims further to improve ultrasound- mediated delivery by using microbubbles as ultrasound contrast agents developed in our laboratory and registered by Turkish Patent and Trademark Office.

Research Environment and Infrastructure

The project will be implemented by a team gathered from academicians in the field of chemical engineering, molecular and cell biology, oncology and radiology. Besides the cosupervisors, Prof. Zekiye Altun at Basic Oncology and Assoc. Prof. Mustafa Barış at Department of Radiology in Dokuz Eylul University also will be involved in the project, with their expertise, laboratories and equipment.

Main equipment in the laboratory include fluorescence microscopy, Beckman Multisizer 4 coulter counter, Zetasizer nanoZS, Microplate reader, Langmuir-Blodgett system equipped with KSV Optrel BAM 300 Brewster Angle Microscope, VisualSonics Vevo 2100 Ultrasound imaging system (ultrahigh frequency small animal ultrasound system), animal laboratory equipments (including metabolic cages, individually ventilated cages, animal activity monitoring system, etc).

Preferred Academic Background

Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Required GRE Score

GRE Quantitative 153.00

Project Acronym


Main Supervisor

Assoc. Prof. Sevgi Kılıç Özdemir (IZTECH)


Prof. Bünyamin AKGÜL (IZTECH)

Prof. Güneş ÖZHAN (IBG)

Recruiting Institution

İzmir Institute of Technology, Graduate School, Urla/İzmir

PhD Awarding Institution

İzmir Institute of Technology, Graduate School

PhD Title

PhD in Chemical Engineering

International Academic Secondment

University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, USA

Intersectoral Mobility

Fujifilm VisualSonics (NL) and/or Siemens Healthineers (TR) and Istanbul Health Industry Cluster (ISEK)