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A nanotherapeutic approach to inhibiting hedgehog signalling in brain cancer


   School of Pharmacy

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  Dr Jonathan Coulter  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Patients with grade IV astrocytomas (Glioblastoma - GBM) have a uniformly poor prognosis in spite of aggressive multimodal management (resection, radio-chemotherapy). Median survival statistics are poor, typically around 8 – 14 months, highlighting the urgent need for novel therapeutic strategies.

The Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathway is essential for embryonic development, stem cell growth and tissue polarity (differentiation). Normally the Hh signalling pathway is inactive in adult tissue, but in some cancers including glioblastoma, Hh signalling is reactivated. This is associated with a range of pro-tumour phenotypes including increased proliferation, invasion, migration and abnormal DNA damage repair.

Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) are known to increase the sensitivity of tumour cells to radiotherapy, through a range of physical, chemical and biological processes. As radiotherapy forms a major treatment modality for glioblastoma, this PhD project will explore the potential Hh interfering gold nanoparticles to boost the cell killing effect of radiotherapy.

In addition to increased cell killing, the underpinning molecular mechanisms will be studied, including the impact of the targeted gold nanoparticle on cancer “stem like” properties, DNA damage repair, migration and invasion.

This project will build upon the translational nanomedicine expertise of Dr Coulter’s group, with the ultimate goal of developing a novel nanoparticle formulation with both the potential for commercial development and enhancing patient outcomes in this difficult to treat disease setting.

How to apply: Applications must be submitted via https://dap.qub.ac.uk/portal/user/u_login.php and should include a one-page statement of motivation uploaded under the ‘proposal’ section.

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