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Prof Kristofer Thurecht
The University of Queensland

Prof. Kristofer Thurecht graduated from the University of Queensland, Australia, in 2005 with a PhD in polymer chemistry. In 2007, Prof. Thurecht was simultaneously awarded a Ramsay Centenary Fellowship and 1851 Research Fellowship in the UK, and has since held both an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship (2008) and an ARC Future Fellowship (2012). In 2015, Prof. Thurecht was awarded the RACI David Sangster Polymer Science and Technology Award from the Polymer Division. Prof. Thurecht is a senior group leader within the Centre for Advanced Imaging (CAI) and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) at the University of Queensland where he currently holds an NHMRC Career Development Fellowship (CDF2). His research focusses on developing improved understanding of the nano-bio interface, particularly using molecular imaging tools to address some of the complex questions in this field. His team works across the boundaries of chemistry and materials, biology and imaging science to probe how nanomaterial properties affect their function in living animals. He is a CI in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology, and theme leader in the ARC Training Centre for Innovation in Biomedical Imaging and Technology.


Nanomaterials offer unique opportunities to modulate both temporal and spatial delivery of therapeutics owing to the ability to precisely control chemical and physical properties through rational design.1,2 However, it is important to understand fully how these properties vary under physiological conditions, and how nanomaterials behave when exposed to biological cues. This requires the development of new approaches for probing biological specimens, such that real-time assessment of both function and response can be achieved.3 Central to this idea is the field of theranostics, where molecular imaging is used to better understand how materials respond to changes in the environment during therapeutic delivery (or as a downstream result of therapeutic delivery). Molecular imaging offers a route to determine whether a designed nanomedicine is complementary with the biological milieu in which it must act, and also whether it is able to withstand the harsh and often rapid environmental changes encountered upon injection into animals.4

In general, the ability to rationally optimise materials for in vivo drug delivery is hindered by the inability to directly assess the behaviour of the materials in vivo. And while conventional studies to evaluate biodistribution of nanomaterials and nanomedicines certainly provides initial evidence for successful delivery, it does not indicate whether a therapeutic has successfully translocated into diseased tissue or diseased cells. This presentation describes the development of self-reporting nanomedicines in which the nanomedicine is monitored in real-time using molecular imaging to inform on both delivery of the therapeutic, as well as efficacy of the treatment or cellular localisation of therapy. We have developed architectural polymers that offer flexibility in design to facilitate sensitive assessment of drug release from polymers using positron emission tomography (PET) to provide quantitative assessment of drug distribution with voxel-resolution. Such an approach offers unique insight into why some polymeric materials are effective, and others are not.

  1. L Chen, JD Simpson, AV Fuchs, BE Rolfe and KJ Thurecht. 2017. Molecular Pharmaceutics, 14(12), 4485-4497
  2. AJ Sivaram, A Wardiana, S Alcantara, S Sonderegger, …, KJ Thurecht. 2020, ACS Nano, 14(10), 13739-13753.
  3. AV Fuchs, AC Gemmell and KJ Thurecht. 2015 Polymer Chemistry, 6(6), 868-880.
  4. M Bjornmalm, KJ Thurecht, …, F Caruso. 2018 ACS Nano, 11(10), 9594-9613.

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