Design and Technology/Chemistry KS3 & KS4: Nano-bubbles and drug delivery

Fran Scott meets Dr Eleanor Stride from the University of Oxford who is working on using nano-bubbles to deliver drugs to specific parts of the human body.

Dr Stride explains that cancer drugs are poisonous and have many side effects.

Her research uses microscopic bubbles of gas coated with a special shell containing these drugs which are then injected into the patient’s blood.

More than half of the drugs we develop are too poisonous to work. Using nano-bubbles means a much smaller dose is required and so this technology may allow us to use more drugs in the future.

This clip is from the series The Imagineers.

Teacher Notes

This clip could be shown as an example of how a basic product (chemotherapy drugs) can undergo significant change through concentrating on one aspect (in this case, delivery).

As a class, discuss the basic brief and its aims. Students should see that the chosen solution, involving use of magnets and ultrasound, is not dictated by the brief, but is just one way of answering it.

A practical exercise could then be carried out, based on a delivery system for a fragile object. In groups, students could invent systems that will transport eggs from one side of the class to the other, leaving the contents (without shell) in a bowl, ready for use. When the egg is broken, how the shell is separated, and how automated the system is, is up to them.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching Design & Technology and Chemistry at KS3 and GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd and 4th Level in Scotland. Appears in AQA, OCR, EDEXCEL, CCEA, WJEC, SQA.

More from The Imagineers:

Earthquake engineering
Inventing clothes inspired by nature
Inventing DIY wind turbines
Inventing future fabrics
Inventing smoke-free stoves