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   School of Pharmacy and Bioengineering

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  Dr K Wright  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

In Dec 2019 we began an industry sponsored MRC Biomedical Catalyst project aimed at finding the best potential cartilage source for expansion of GMP chondrocytes in a Quantum® system bioreactor. Concern remains over the in-vitro expansion of chondrocytes, as dedifferentiation of the cells can occur, resulting in fibroblast-like chondrocytes with poorer cartilage forming potential. The use of tissue specific chondroprogenitors (CPs) in articular cartilage could radically change the way that we treat cartilage lesions. In August 2021 we will begin an MRC Developmental Pathway Funding Scheme (DPFS) grant aimed at developing and translating a first-in-man trial of allogeneic chondroprogenitors for the treatment of cartilage injuries. Developmental studies have shown that these self-renewing progenitors generate hyaline cartilage within joints and are involved in host cartilage repair. Chondroprogenitors have advantages compared to the chondrocytes as they retain telomerase expression, resulting in delayed senescence following expansion and can be expanded for more than 50 population doublings, potentially allowing for the treatment of many patients from a single donor. In addition, as progenitors generate a single differentiated celltype, the chondrocyte, an opportunity exists to pre-differentiate cells during the culture phase, improving their function and integration in repair. Thus tissue-specific progenitors offer numerous advantages, primarily reproducible expansion potential, phenotypic stability and stable differentiation. In this PhD study we aim to evaluate the Quantum® hollow-fibre bioreactor system in collaboration with our industrial partner (Terumo BCT) as a platform for GMP CP manufacture. The objectives of this study are to: (i) Optimise allogeneic CP tissue source (in alignment with the objectives of our MRC Biomedical Catalyst grant); (ii) Optimise GMP compliant CP isolation and expansion protocols on standard TCP (in alignment with the objectives of our MRC DPFS grant); (iii) Transfer GMP compliant CP manufacturing protocols into the Quantum® system; (iv) Comprehensively characterise Quantum® MSC CP products and assess their potency. This project provides the opportunity to work closely with industry, clinicians and human patient samples/data to address a pertinent clinical question that will likely lead to patient benefit. The studentship will be based at the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital in Oswestry, however, there will be the occasional need to attend training at Keele University

For any further information or for an informal chat about the project please contact: Dr Karina Wright on [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

There is no stipend for this project but funding is available to cover 100% UK/EU student tuition fees and consumables for 3 years.
Non-UK/EU applicants will be considered if they are able to self-fund any additional tuition fee costs that may exist and can obtain a visa to study in the UK.
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