UCL Division of Biosciences


Dr Sudax Murdan

Here Dr Sudax Murdan explains her research into different types of medicines for nail infections for her Soapbox moment…

“Imagine that Alice has an infection in her toenails.  Should she take a pill?  Or use a nail varnish?  Or will an injection be more effective?  Maybe, but it will be excruciatingly painful too.  Ouch!  As you can see, Alice has a number of choices.  The pill is quite effective, but many people have trouble swallowing pills.  Or they are afraid of the risks associated with the medicine for what they might consider to be a cosmetic problem.  The nail varnish seems like the best option – you apply the drug where the disease is, so you avoid side effects anywhere else.  But, currently, medicines that are applied on the nail are not very ef-fective, possibly because the drug has difficulty penetrating the nail and killing the microbes which are inside and underneath the nail.

This leads me to my research in this field.  I am trying to produce different types of medicines that can be applied on the nail to cure nail infections.  For example, nail gels which form a film when exposed to a UV lamp (like those used in nail salons), nail patches, and nanoparticles which are extremely small and flexi-ble and therefore can penetrate into the nail, carrying the drug with them into the nail. I am also re-searching the nail itself to understand how it changes when diseased, so that we can understand why it is so difficult to cure nail infections.

I started researching the nail and nail medicines many years ago after I reviewed a book on skin, and real-ised that the nail needs research attention too.  After finishing my degree and registering as a pharmacist, doing a PhD felt a much more attractive option than working at a Chemist’s or in a hospital pharmacy.  So, I did research in a lab for 3 years, wrote up my thesis and was lucky to land a job as a lecturer.  No two days are the same; one day is writing research papers, grant applications or marking exam scripts and the next is going to meetings and conferences locally and internationally, or giving lectures, teaching students in practical classes, or taking them on a visit to a Pharmaceutical company – and celebrating with them when they pass their PhD examination and become Dr!”