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Anti-cancer activities of dietary phytochemicals (BaoY-PshezhetskiyDU19SF)

Faculty of Medicine and Health Science

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Dr Y Bao , Prof D Pshezhetskiy No more applications being accepted Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Epidemiological studies show that dietary phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates (ITCs) derived from cruciferous vegetables can decrease the risk of many types of cancer. The chemopreventive effect has been attributed to the bioactivity of sulforaphane (SFN). SFN is known to induce cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, autophagy and a number of antioxidant enzymes via the KEAP1-Nrf2-ARE pathway. However, SFN possesses hormetic effects on angiogenesis (low doses of SFN promote tube formation and high doses inhibit) (1-3). In this proposal, a range of selected ITCs such as AITC, BITC, Erucin, and Iberin will be investigated using a 3D co-culture of HUVECs and pericytes. The most active ITCs will be further encapsulated using nano-techniques (4,5).

Hypothesis: Nano-encapsulated ITCs possess enhanced anti-angiogenetic, and anti-tumor activities.

There are 3 main objectives:
(i) to determine the effectiveness of selected ITCs on cell proliferation, apoptosis and autophagy.
(ii) to compare the bioactivity of nano encapsulated ITCs with non-encapsulated form on angiogenesis using 3D co-culture of HUVECs and pericytes.
(iii) to study the mechanisms of action.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

This is a PhD programme.

The start date of the project is October 2020.

The mode of study is full-time. The studentship length is 4 years (3 years period of study, 1 year period of registration).

Entry requirements:

Acceptable first degree in subject areas including Biochemistry, Cell/Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology/Oncology, and Nutrition.

The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee may also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


(1) Bao Y, Wang W, Zhou Z, Sun C. Benefits and risks of the hormetic effects of dietary isothiocyanates on cancer prevention. PLoS One. 2014; 9(12):e114764.

(2) Liu P, Atkinson SJ, Akbareian SE, Zhou Z, Munsterberg A, Robinson SD, Bao Y. Sulforaphane exerts anti-angiogenesis effects against hepatocellular carcinoma through inhibition of STAT3/HIF-1α/VEGF signalling. Sci Rep. 2017; 7(1):12651.

(3) Liu P, Behray M, Wang Q, Wang W, Zhou Z, Chao Y, Bao Y. Anti-cancer activities of allyl isothiocyanate and its conjugated silicon quantum dots. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):1084.

(4) Wang Q, Alshaker H, Böhler T, Srivats S, Chao Y, Cooper C, Pchejetski D. Core shell lipid-polymer hybrid nanoparticles with combined docetaxel and molecular targeted therapy for the treatment of metastatic prostate cancer. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):5901. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-06142-x.

(5) Xu Y, Han X, Li Y, Min H, Zhao X, Zhang Y, Qi Y, Shi Y, Qi S, Bao Y, Nie G. Sulforaphane Mediates Glutathione Depletion via Polymeric Nanoparticles to Restore Cisplatin Chemosensitivity. ACS Nano, 2019; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.9b07032.
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