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Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes

MASTERS BY RESEARCH PROJECT: Testing whether pain underlies the altered behaviour of zebrafish osteoarthritis mutants

School of Physiology and Pharmacology

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Dr C L Hammond Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Start 23 September 2019

This MSc by Research is a laboratory-based project which offers the exciting opportunity to spend 1 year in one of our State-of-the-Art laboratories (plus 1 year thesis writing) at the University of Bristol and experience life as a researcher. You will be working with one of our cutting-edge research groups where you will learn new skills and techniques, including experimental design and implementation, data analysis and scientific writing.

The degenerative joint condition osteoarthritis affects more than 10 million people in the UK and is the most common form of disability. While the major pathology of osteoarthritis is progressive loss of articular cartilage and an increase to subchondral bone, the symptom with the biggest effect on patients is joint pain. Osteoarthritis was, for a long time, believed to be a natural consequence of ageing and joint wear and tear. In the last decade it has been shown that there is a strong genetic component of osteoarthritis which accounts for between 40 and 60% of susceptibility and it is believed that around 100 genes may be involved. Zebrafish are frequently used as an animal model, as they are highly genetically amenable and they show well conserved physiology with higher vertebrates. Zebrafish, like mammals show increasing signs of osteoarthritis as they age. The Hammond lab have generated 12 stable mutant lines carrying mutations in osteoarthritis susceptibility genes. All of the lines show premature onset of osteoarthritis in the jaw and spine, with loss of cartilage and formation of bony spurs called osteophytes. The fish also show altered jaw movement and swim behaviour, however it is currently unclear whether this altered behaviour is due to physical constraints on the joint, or to pain leading to avoidance of certain types of motion. This project (working in collaboration with Dr Lynne Sneddon in Liverpool) will test whether zebrafish with osteoarthritis have joint pain, by testing whether analgesia affects jaw movement and swim behaviour and cortisol levels.

Zebrafish have been shown to exhibit aversive behaviour in response to painful stimuli such as heat and cold shock or following the induction of a minor wound, which can be prevented by providing analgesia to the fish. Agents that block peripheral pain sensation, such as lidocaine, and agents blocking central pain, e.g. opioids, have been demonstrated to be effective. In this project video tracking assays will be developed to test behaviour of larvae and adult fish. The onset of altered behaviour in osteoarthritis mutants will be characterised. We will then design analgesia dosing regimen (by testing their effects on aversive behaviour) and test whether blockade of peripheral and/or central pain leads to a reversion to normal behaviour.

For more information on the group see

Please visit the UOB/faculty of Life Sciences/ School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience/ postgraduate studies website for the complete list of available MSc by Research projects.

Funding Notes

This is a one-year, self-funded Masters (MSc) by research. Fees are £4300 (UK/EU Fee) and bench costs are £5000. Applicants should have (or expect to receive) the equivalent of a First or Upper second-class honours degree in a biomedical discipline.

When applying please select the Faculty of Life Sciences, MSc by Research, School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience

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