Functionalised contact lenses for the topical delivery of cell therapies to treat chronic ocular surface inflammatory conditions

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  Dr Laura Sidney  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Ocular surface disease is a significant cause of blindness. Current treatments relying on repeat dosing of steroids show poor levels of patient compliance. Alternative treatments such as corneal or amniotic membrane transplantation require complex surgery. This gives a clear unmet clinical need to address in this project.

In this project the student will develop a novel cell therapy using mesenchymal stromal cells applied to the eye via a modified contact lens. The cells respond to the wounded environment to deliver signalling molecules that cause anti-inflammatory action and wound healing.

The project will cover 4 main objectives: 1) Working with industrial partners to generate and characterise a contact lens functionalised with synthetic peptides to allow cell attachment; 2) Assessing the effect of the functionalised contact lens on the metabolism and phenotypes of stem cells in tissue culture; 3) Building an ex vivo inflammation model of the ocular surface; 4) Assessing the efficacy of the functionalised contact lens in the ex vivo model. It is a wet-lab project incorporating methodologies from chemistry, materials science, molecular biology, human tissue handling and high-throughput protein assays and will provide the student with training in many different translational skills.

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Materials Science (24) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This is a fully funded studentship provided by the Medical Research Council. If successful, you will receive a stipend (currently £18,622 per year for 2023/24) and tuition fee waiver for 4 years. Successful candidates will also receive an allowance for a laptop, a travel and conference allowance plus allowance for laboratory/PhD running costs.
Click on the institution website link which will redirect you to the MRC AIM website which contains full application information including application forms to complete. Please ensure you submit your application before the deadline of midday (GMT) Friday 12 January 2024 as late applications will not be considered.


[1] Craig JP et al. The ocular surface 2017;15(4):802-812; [2] Rhee MK, Mah FS. Ophthalmology 2017;124(11S):S14-S19; [3] Phulke S, Kaushik S, Kaur S et al.. Journal of current glaucoma practice 2017;11(2):67-72. [4] van der Meulen IJ et al.. Cornea 2008;27(5):539-544. [5] Boboridis KG, Konstas AGP. Expert Opin Pharmacother 2018;19(9):1027-1039; [6] Ghannam S et al. Stem cell research & therapy 2010;1(1):2; [7] Yao L et al. PloS one 2012;7(2):e30842; [8] Cejka C et al. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity 2016;2016:5843809; [9] Lee MJ et al. Molecular therapy : the journal of the American Society of Gene Therapy 2015;23(1):139-146; [10] Orozco Morales ML et al. World journal of stem cells 2019;11(2):84-99; [11] Hertsenberg AJ et al. PloS one 2017;12(3):e0171712; [12] Di Girolamo N et al. Transplantation 2009;87(10):1571-1578; [13] Brown KD,et al. Tissue engineering Part A 2014;20(3-4):646-655; [14] Gore A et al. Cornea 2014;33(1):65-71

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