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(MCRC Non-Clinical) Developing cellular micromotors to improve ovarian cancer management

Project Description

Conventional cancer chemotherapies are unspecific and elicit severe side effects. Yet, they remain the backbone of current therapies, illustrating the need for new and more specific approaches. Micromotors are ideally placed to address this challenge. They can be engineered to encapsulate and deliver drugs with high spatiotemporal precision while protecting them from being diluted with body fluids. Moreover, due to their capability of moving beyond diffusion these tiny machines – spanning 1 to 10s of micrometers in size – have potential to target cancers more directly and actively, and reach them in areas not easily accessible by conventional means.

One example of a hard-to-reach cancer is ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth amongst cancer deaths in women, and top amidst all gynaecological cancers. Less than 30 per cent of women survive the disease for more than ten years, mainly due to a lack of early detection methods. Ovarian cancer arises inside the fallopian tube before spreading to the ovaries and beyond to become incurable. Due to their narrow diameter and situation deep inside the body, fallopian tubes are difficult to access, limiting our ability of examining them in a non-invasive manner and at a molecular level.

To address this challenge, the project aims to develop innovative self-propelled drug-delivery vehicles capable of traveling up the fallopian tube to detect and eradicate ovarian cancer lesions at a pre-invasive, still curable stage. To achieve this goal, the work will integrate cutting-edge nanotechnology, cell biology, molecular biology, biochemistry and advanced microscopy methods as well as tissue culture and mouse work. In the longer term, this highly cross-disciplinary project has potential to lead to novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools to better detect, treat and prevent ovarian cancer.

The project will be in collaboration with Prof. Schmidt’s and Dr Medina Sanchez’ group at the Institute for Integrative Nanosciences, IFW, in Dresden, Germany, who recently published a relevant article in the area: ’Xu et al., ACS Nano 2018 ’Sperm-Hybrid Micromotor for Targeted Drug Delivery’.

Entry Requirements
Candidates must hold, or be about to obtain, a minimum upper second class (or equivalent) undergraduate degree in relevant subject. A related master’s degree would be an advantage.

Please formally apply via the University of Manchester application portal, this will include adding your CV, name and contact details for referees and a personal statement (1000 words max) Please also comment on your suitability for the post, giving an overview of your relevant experience and training.

Funding Notes

The Studentship will cover an annual stipend (currently at £19,000 per annum), running expenses and PhD tuition fees at UK/EU rates. Where international student fees are payable, please provide evidence within your application of how the shortfall will be covered (approximately £19,000 per annum).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.

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