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(MCRC Non-Clinical) Tracking daily biological changes with MRI in prostate radiotherapy: the potential of “multi-omics”

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  • Full or part time
    Dr M Aznar
    Dr A McWilliam
    Prof A Choudhury
    Prof C West
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Risk stratification for prostate cancer patients is based on T-stage, PSA and Gleason scores. The detection and staging of prostate cancer has greatly improved with the introduction of multi-parametric MRI as standard of care. However, this requires a radiologist to qualitatively describe the information in the images and manually report the patient’s disease burden. Such descriptive information will not be able to fully describe the subtleties of the nature of the disease, clues to which may be hidden within these images.

In conjunction with the increase in the use of mpMRI the biological knowledge of prostate cancer has been rapidly developing. Genetic signatures are emerging that, for example, describe the hypoxic state of a patient’s disease. Additionally, the recent field of proteomics, describing the protein expressions of a patient’s disease, is emerging.

This project aims to correlate imaging features extracted from routine MRI with biology to help inform the treatment of future prostate cancer patients. Radiomics aims to extract quantitative information from an image, in this case MRI, which may be linked to the underlying biology of the disease. In this project we will develop the software infrastructure to extract radiomic features from multiple MRI images at multiple time-points, creating a “multi-omic” research platform. This will allow us to: (1) develop and validate a radiomic signature to characterise hypoxia based on the validated Manchester RNA signature, determining the initial tumour state. (2) characterise the longitudinal stability of MRI based radiomics using patient images from the MR-linac. (3) investigate potential correlations with radiomic feature changes with changes in proteomics as we perturb the tumour environment with radiotherapy.

The body of work will identify imaging characteristics which can be accessed instantly during treatment that, ultimately, may form the bases for future real-time biological-adaptive radiotherapy.

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.

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 £17,000 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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