Delivery of Agrin mRNA for cartilage regeneration

   William Harvey Research Institute

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  Prof F Dell’Accio, Prof D Heel  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Osteoarthritis is caused by loss of cartilage in the joints. Osteoarthritis is a leading cause of chronic disability worldwide, however, currently, there is no pharmacological treatment that prevents cartilage loss or, better, regenerates cartilage. We and others have discovered molecules, including Agrin [Eldridge et al, ARD 2015] which can induce cartilage regeneration. One major problem is that it is very difficult to deliver large molecules like Agrin inside the very tight extracellular matrix of the cartilage.

This studentship will focus on the development of novel molecular biology techniques that are compatible with use in humans to deliver large molecules into the cartilage and other hard-to-reach tissues. After developing and optimizing the technology, the student will test not only its capacity to deliver the molecule into the cartilage, but also whether this technology enables cartilage regeneration.

The PhD award offered is part of the UCB/UCL Partners Doctoral Training Programme (running from 2017 to 2020), offering joint research training at the PhD level in inflammation sciences and its associated research areas, including inflammatory diseases, tissue protection and repair as well as fibrosis. The objective of this programme is to provide an innovative approach to basic and translational inflammation science, drug discovery and therapeutic strategies, incorporating cross institutional and industrial pharma based training. More information on the science underpinning this programme can be found at and .

The student will be supervised by a team in QMUL comprising Professor Dell’Accio, Dr. Eldridge and Dr Thomas as well as a team within UCB.
Applicants are expected to have a strong background in biomedical science and will be expected to have knowledge of molecular biology, cell biology (highly desirable), understanding of models of cartilage formation and cartilage damage, and of Agrin biology.

The studentship is fully funded for three years and will commence in October 2018. It includes tuition fees (only home / EU fees will be covered) and the student will receive a minimum tax free stipend per annum of £20000, increasing by 3% every year. The studentship is open to all nationalities, however is subject to University's admissions requirements for PhD study.

Informal enquiry contact details:
Professor Dell’Accio [Email Address Removed]

How to apply: Please send your CV and cover letter (detailing why you would like to apply) to [Email Address Removed] .

Deadline for applications: 30th June 2018.

Interviews will be held in July.


Eldridge, S., Nalesso, G., Ismail, H., Vicente-Greco, K., Kabouridis, P., Ramachandran, M., Niemeier, A., Herz, J., Pitzalis, C., Perretti, M. and Dell’Accio, F. (2015) ‘Agrin mediates chondrocyte homeostasis and requires both LRP4 and α-dystroglycan to enhance cartilage formation in vitro and in vivo’, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and European League Against Rheumatism, 75(6), pp. 1228–1235. doi: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2015-207316.

 About the Project