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(MRC DTP) Advanced image analysis to track daily biological changes in prostate radiotherapy


Project Description

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men, with 47,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK. Currently it is accepted that we over-treat men with less aggressive disease and under-treat men with more aggressive disease. There is a clinical unmet need to improve the selection of patients for treatment, and adapt treatment to the actual biological response to therapy.

Analysis of changes in the features of medical images (imaging phenotypes) can distinguish cancerous and healthy tissue in the prostate [1]. Studies use established features or “radiomics” or use machine learning approaches (typically CNNs) to discover which features are most predicative of a given outcome. In this project we will explore both approaches. Many studies have suggested a link between features and tumour biologic substrates (e.g. blood markers, hormone receptor status, EGFR/KRAS mutations etc) [2], but no clinical implementation has been performed.

The MR Linac, a new radiotherapy machine combining high-quality magnetic resonance (MR) imaging with radiation delivery, has the unique potential to deliver treatments adapted to daily changes in tumour biology.

This project aims to correlate imaging features extracted from MRI with biology to help inform the treatment of future prostate cancer patients. By creating a “multi-omic” research platform, we will:
(a) develop and validate a imaging signature to characterise hypoxia based on the validated Manchester RNA signature, determining the initial tumour state.
(b) characterise the longitudinal stability of MRI based image features using patient images from the MR-linac.
(c) investigate potential correlations with changes in image features with changes in proteomics as we perturb the tumour environment with radiotherapy.

This 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 treatments for prostate cancer.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the MRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the MRC DTP website View Website

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.

References

[1] Stoyanova et al. Translational Cancer Research. 2016; 5:432–447.
[2] Sanduleanu et al Radiotherapy and Oncology 2018;127:349-60.

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