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Developing new antibody-based therapeutics for neuroblastoma


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Prof A Sala Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Metastatic neuroblastoma is a cancer of the nervous system that kills the majority of the affected children. Although there have been tremendous advances in the understanding of the molecular causes of the disease, patients are still treated with highly toxic mixtures of chemicals and radiation. Thus, safer, innovative approaches for this cancer are urgently needed. We propose to evaluate the efficacy of antibodies for neuroblastoma therapeutics. Antibodies are proteins that can bind to cells, triggering their death by engaging the immune system. Antibodies can also be engineered to carry cancer-killing molecules that are delivered specifically to tumour cells, while sparing normal tissues.
The aim of the project is to pre-clinically validate a newly developed monoclonal antibody for neuroblastoma therapeutics. The anti-LGR5 antibody (called BNC101) has been originally developed to target colon cancer stem cells. We will use the reagent in experiments whose primary objective is to evaluate the ability of the antibody to induce cancer regression in vitro and in vivo, especially in the context of patient-derived xenografts (PDX). A secondary aim is to clarify mechanisms of action, safety and identify biomarkers that predict clinical response. The project is ideally suited to a student with an MD or first or upper second undergraduate degree in cell biology, molecular biology or pharmacology. Familiarity with cancer cell cultures and basic biochemical and molecular techniques is also essential.

Funding Notes

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: Recently the UK Government made available the Doctoral Student Loans of up to £25,000 for UK and EU students and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.)
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