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Development of functionalised exosomes for personalised precision medicine in the treatment of cancer - a nanomedicine platform

Project Description

Research Group: Biomedical Research Group

Proposed supervisory team:
Dr Paul Dyer (),
Dr Christopher O’Kane ()
Dr Christopher Parris ()

Cancer Cell Biology

Summary of the research project

Advanced drug delivery systems have often incorporated drugs into synthetic liposomes, e.g., Doxil©, similar to those used in the cosmetic industry. Many cell types have been described to produce small liposome like structures, known as exosomes, that have been shown to exert biological functions on distant cells. Cells derived from releasing these exosomes, include haematopoeitic cells, epithelial cells, stem cells and tumour cells. Exosomes have also been demonstrated in, and isolated from, a variety of biological materials including blood plasma, saliva, urine, breast milk, cerebrospinal fluid, synovial fluid and cell culture media. Depending on their origin, exosomes have been shown to function as powerful mediators of cell-to-cell communication, including as orchestrators of immune responses, inflammation, cell death, and cancer formation, delivering macromolecules, such as micro-RNA (miRNA) and proteins to the target cell.

This project aims to develop methodologies to functionalise human cell-derived exosomes, using techniques in molecular biology and cell culture to affect the loading of macromolecular therapeutic cargoes (proteins, DNA, RNA) and cancer targeting molecules. In addition, we aim to investigate the ability of these exosomes to deliver macromolecular therapies and to characterise the anti-tumour effects using common cancer cell lines. Key research methods rely on standard techniques in molecular biology, including bacterial cell cloning, mammalian cell cloning, recombinant protein production and characterisation, Western blot immunodetection, mammalian cell culture, confocal microscopy, flow cytometry, and nanoparticle analysis.

Where you’ll study

Cambridge (

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Biomedical Science PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

Funding Notes

This project is self-funded.
Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website (View Website) as they become available.

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