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  Cancer: Developing cubosome nanocarriers to improve chemotherapy responses in breast cancer

   Faculty of Medicine and Health

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  Dr T Hughes, Dr A Tyler  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Cytotoxic chemotherapy is a treatment component for around a third of primary and the majority of secondary breast cancer patients. Unfortunately, failure of this treatment is relatively common, as evidenced by recurrences after primary disease or progression and death in the metastatic setting. There is an urgent unmet need to improve chemotherapy responses.

We will develop and test a novel strategy to deliver chemotherapy more effectively to cancer cells, and to avoid chemoresistance. We will encapsulate chemotherapy agents in lipid nanocarriers known as “cubosomes”. We will direct these cubosomes to bind to cancer cells using specific targeting ligands. We will also use the cubosomes to deliver gene-specific siRNAs to reduce expression levels of known chemoresistance genes and thereby sensitise the cells to chemotherapy. 

We expect to develop and validate a new nanocarrier technology for chemotherapy delivery and to reduce chemoresistance. In the future, we aim to apply this technology to breast cancer patients to improve outcomes after chemotherapy.

Techniques associated with this project:

Monoolien-based cubosomes will be manufactured, loaded with chemotherapy and/or siRNAs. These will be chemically conjugated to targeting ligands. Cubosomes will be characterized by dynamic light scattering, electron microscopy, and small angle X-ray scattering. A panel of breast cancer cell lines will be used; analyses will involve tissue culture assays (growth / survival assays, fluorescence microscopy) and expression analyses (qPCR / Westerns).  

This project is part of the International PhD Academy: Medical Research


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper second class honours degree in a relevant subject.

Candidates whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Medicine and Health minimum requirements are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 7.0 overall, with no element less than 6.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 100 with the listening and reading element no less than 22, writing element no less than 23 and the speaking element no less than 24.

How to apply:

Applications can be made at any time. To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)

To help us identify that you are applying for this project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Medicine, Health and Human Disease as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert

Any queries regarding the application process should be directed to [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Engineering (12) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This project is aimed at International applicants who are able to self fund their studies or who have a sponsor who will provide their funding.


Pramanik A, Xu Z, Ingram N, Coletta PL, Millner PA, Tyler AI, Hughes TA (2022) Hyaluronic acid-tagged cubosomes deliver cytotoxics specifically to CD44-positive cancer cells. Mol Pharm, in press.
Pramanik A, Xu Z, Shamsuddin SH, Khaled Y, Ingram N, Maisey T, Tomlinson D, Coletta PL, Jayne D, Hughes TA*, Tyler AI*, Millner PA* (2022) Affimer Tagged Cubosomes: Targeting of carcinoembryonic antigen expressing colorectal cancer cells using in vitro and in vivo models. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 14, 11078-11091

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