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Developing preclinical models for cancer therapeutics using biomaterials and omics technologies


Project Description

Hydrogels are biomaterials used to prepare in vitro models used to study many biological processes. These materials can be selectively modified to present different physical, chemical and mechanical properties to mimic the ones of the extracellular matrix present in different tissues. The use of biomaterials and tissue engineering approaches offer an exciting opportunity to develop distinctive in vitro models of tumour progression and understand the role of the tumour microenvironment. As cancer progresses, stromal cells are recruited to the affected site and are directed to remodel the surrounding tissues and promote tumour growth. These processes change the stiffness of the tissues involved, and this factor is considered an important regulator in the progression of the disease.
The overall aim of the project is to use biomaterials to develop an in vitro model for prostate cancer. The model will allow us to study the changes in cellular membrane lipid composition occurring during tumour progression and can be used to support the development of novel therapeutics. Hydrogels with distinctive composition and stiffness will be used to mimic the tumour environment. The model will allow us to study how prostate cancer cells modify their membrane lipids to grow, adapt and migrate, in response to variations in the physical properties of the hydrogel surrounding them, and how they produce signalling molecules and adhesion factors to control their environment. This information will enhance our understanding of the biochemical changes occurring during the development and progression of tumours and support the discovery of disease biomarkers.
A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the University of Manchester will supervise the project, providing a unique opportunity to work at the interface of chemistry and biology, on a project that has great translational potential.

The successful candidate will join a multidisciplinary team of researchers at the School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester. State-of-the-art training will be provided in material science, cell culture, and mass spectrometry lipidomics. The student will work at the interface between physical sciences and biosciences, learning how these disciplines can come together to support the translation of scientific findings to clinically relevant applications. They will also benefit from the supervisors’ research collaborations with academic, clinical and industrial groups, and get the opportunity to attend and contribute to national and international meetings and conferences.


For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk.

Funding Notes

Applicants should hold (or expect to obtain) a minimum upper class honours degree (or equivalent) in chemistry, biochemistry, bioengineering, biomedical sciences, material sciences or relevant subject. A Master qualification in a similar area would be a significant advantage. Candidates with experience or interest in cancer biology, pharmaceutics, drug delivery or bioanalysis are encouraged to apply.

This project has a Band 3 fee. Details can be found here (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor.

References

[1] Rios de la Rosa JM, Wubetu J, Tirelli N and Tirella A. Colorectal tumour 3D invitro models: advantages if biofabrication for the recapitulation of early stages of tumour development (2018) Biomed Phys Eng Express 4:045010.
[2]. Tirella A, Mattei G, and Ahluwalia A. Strain rate viscoelastic analysis of soft and highly hydrated biomaterials (2014) Journal of Biomedical Material Research A 102:3352-60.
[3]. Astarita G, Kendal AC, Dennis EA, Nicolaou A. Targeted lipidomic strategies for oxygenated metabolites of polyunsaturated fatty acids (2015) Biochim Biophys Acta 1851:456-468.
[4]. Murphy SA, Nicolaou A. Lipidomics applications in health, disease and nutrition research (2013) Mol Nutr Food Res 57;1336-46.
[5]. Brown M, Roulson JA, Hart CA, Tawadros T, Clarke NW. Arachidonic acid induction of Rho-mediated transendothelial migration in prostate cancer (2014) Br J Cancer 110:2099-108.

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