Catching up with Samuel Winnall

Developing smart drug delivery

Samuel joined the InnovaXN programme on the 7th September 2020. His PhD project at the ILL is focused on the interaction of intelligent drug delivery vehicles with model biomembranes in collaboration with AstraZeneca and the University of Manchester. The project aims to gain fundamental understanding of the interactions underpinning a range of intelligent delivery vehicles. There are two main objectives: the first is to make and study two types of membranes (plasma and endosomal); and the second is to implement microfluidic chips to manufacture and design lipid nanoparticles, similar to those used in COVID-19 vaccines.

Samuel finds himself thriving in the research environment, drawing particular enthusiasm from upcoming high-profile neutron and X-ray experiments. Since September, he has been working on elucidating the interaction and effect of cholesterol on KC2 cationic lipid monolayers (used, for example, in siRNA delivery) at different pH and polyA concentrated buffers. This was part of an ILL beam time proposal that has since been accepted, ranking second in the reflectometry category. Alongside this, Samuel has made preliminary measurements of endosomal membranes and started building the microfluidics platform. Not one to shy away from a large interdisciplinary workload, Samuel has also been developing his own Python program that automatically handles his group’s data analysis workflow.

Samuel has already used several analytical techniques at the ILL. He has been using ellipsometry, Brewster angle microscopy and surface pressure isotherms on a Langmuir Trough to study monolayers at the air-water interface. He has also been using microfluidics for lipid nanoparticle development.

Fortunately, Samuel found that the current Covid-19 situation hasn’t affected progress on the project. ILL authorises staff to go onsite for research and experiments, while data analysis, training and writing-up can be done from home.

Samuel described his journey so far with InnovaXN as “great and beyond expectations”. He is learning a lot at the ILL, while discovering the amazing landscape and views in and around Grenoble. For him, InnovaXN is a good way to meet new people and learn new ways to work and research. Working at the ILL, from Samuel’s point of view, is “relaxing and within a very healthy work environment”. Even though it does get busy around beam time cycles, he appreciates the good work/life balance.

Samuel Winall on the EPN Campus

Find out more about the project and Samuel bellow.

Interaction of intelligent drug delivery vehicles

The programme is co-directed by Dr Harald Reichert (Director of Research, ESRF) and Prof Mark Johnson (Science Director, ILL).

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