Research area overview 

The oral route of drug administration is the ultimate goal for any new drug therapy, especially therapy targeting chronic treatment because of the convenience and compliance by patients. Oral drug administration relies on satisfactory drug absorption across the gastrointestinal tract. Poor gastrointestinal absorption can be a barrier to drug development and often results in injection-mediated drug administration approaches. Injections are generally not liked by the patient, are expensive to manufacture and administer (often require healthcare professionals), and can give rise to adverse effects.


Our research aims to develop capability to enable oral delivery of drugs with poor oral bioavailability. Developing this capability is important as it minimises costs, increases patient adherence to therapy and reduces risks, with overall effect of achieving improved health outcomes. 

Current projects 

- 'Exosomes for non-invasive (mucosal) delivery of siRNA in Inflammatory Bowel Disease'

- 'Design and generation of new absorption-enabling peptides for oral delivery of biologics'

Select relevant publications 

  1. Perinelli, D, et al. Rhamnolipids as epithelial permeability enhancers for macromolecular therapeutics. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. Accepted 22/7/17. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2017.07.011

  2. Bird, J, et al. Neurotensin receptor 1 facilitates intracellular and transepithelial delivery of macromolecules. Eur J Pharm Biopharm. Accepted 7/7/17. DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2017.06.027

  3. Perinelli, D, et al. Correlation among chemical structure, surface properties and cytotoxicity of N-acyl alanine and serine surfactants. Eur J Pharm Biopharm 2016, 109:93-102.

  4. Lucarini S, et al. Unsaturated fatty acids lactose esters: cytotoxicity, permeability enhancement and antimicrobial activity. Eur J Pharm Biopharm 2016, 107:88-96.

  5. Shubber S, Vllasaliu D, et al. Mechanism of mucosal permeability enhancement of CriticalSorb® (Solutol® HS15) Investigated In Vitro in Cell Cultures. Pharm Res 2015, 32, (2):516-27.

  6. Garnett M, Vllasaliu D, et al. Drug delivery - epithelial cell models for drug transport and toxicology studies. Biochemist 06/2014; 36(3).

  7. Vllasaliu D, et al. Basement membrane influences intestinal epithelial cell growth and presents a barrier to the movement of macromolecules. Exp Cell Res 2014, 323, (1):218-31.

  8. Fowler R, Vllasaliu D, et al. Nanoparticle transport in epithelial cells: pathway switching through bioconjugation. Small 2013, 9:3282-94.

  9. Vllasaliu D, et al. Epithelial toxicity of alkylglycoside surfactants. J Pharm Sci 2013, 102:114-25.

  10. Casettari L, Vllasaliu D, et al. Biomedical applications of amino acid-modified chitosans: A review. Biomaterials 2012, 33, (30):7565-7583.

  11. Vllasaliu D, et al. Absorption-promoting effects of chitosan in airway and intestinal cell lines: a comparative study. Int J Pharm 2012, 430, (1-2):151-160.

  12. Vllasaliu D, et al. Evaluation of calcium depletion as a strategy for enhancement of mucosal absorption of macromolecules. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2012, 418, (1):128-133.

  13. Vllasaliu D, et al. Fc-mediated transport of nanoparticles across airway epithelial cell layers. J Control Release 2012, 158, (3):479-486.

  14. Casettari L, Vllasaliu D, et al. PEGylated chitosan derivatives: Synthesis, characterizations and pharmaceutical applications. Progress in Polymer Science 2012, 37, (5): 659-685

  15. Vllasaliu D, et al. Barrier characteristics of epithelial cultures modelling the airway and intestinal mucosa: a comparison. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2011, 415, (4):579-585.

  16. Casettari L, Vllasaliu D, et al. Effect of PEGylation on the toxicity and permeability enhancement of chitosan. Biomacromolecules 2011, 11:2854-2865.

  17. Vllasaliu D, et al. Tight junction modulation by chitosan nanoparticles: comparison with chitosan solution. Int J Pharm 2010, 400, (1-2):183-193