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  NIHR Leeds BRC: An interferon diagnostic to inform early detection and prevention strategies in Ana positive CTDs


   Faculty of Medicine and Health

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  Dr F Del Galdo, Dr Rebecca Ross  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Type I interferons (IFN) play a role in a wide range of rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs), and strong evidence suggests that measurement of IFN activity could have clinical value, although testing has not progressed into clinical settings. In particular, antinuclear antibody-associated connective tissue diseases (ANA+CTDs), such as Systemic sclerosis (SSc), Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren Syndrome and Dermatomyositis, all have clinical manifestations that have been shown to correlate strongly with IFN activation and could benefit from such a test to aid disease management, prognosis and treatment stratification. 

There is growing evidence that ANA+ individuals with IFN activation have an increased risk of progression to CTDs, thus can also aid better prediction of disease progression. Building on this evidence, we developed an algorithm to measure IFN activity (IFN score) from a sera-based luminex-based blood test, which enriched predictions of poorer clinical outcomes in SSc disease. In the pursuit of NHS-adoption for use across all ANA+CTDs, this project would involve the assessment of sera-based IFN activity and to measure its value in predicting disease progression as well as how it performs compared to current markers of prognosis. Comparison of this sera-based protein score directly to the IFN-linked gene expression within the blood and affected/target organs will aid our knowledge into the level of IFN activation at multi-sites and how this impacts disease progression, and the functioning of the protein-based score verse the gene-based score. Furthermore, this project will assess the relevance of interstitial fluid (ISF), a major tissue fluid system which could be a potential highway for IFN activation seen within ANA+CTDs. We are working in partnership with Kiffik biomedical to develop the assessment of ISF painlessly from patients, and the assessment of gene and protein IFN scores will be undertaken and studied in comparison to the other parameters.

Entry Requirements and How to Apply

For more details about this project and how to apply please visit our website.

If you would like further information after visiting our website please contact Professor Francesco Del Galdo for project specific queries

e: [Email Address Removed]

or the Faculty Admissions Team for help with the application process

e: [Email Address Removed]

To support the application process or if you want to know more about our non-clinical PhDs a recording of our 2023 webinar can be found via the links below

**The deadline dates in the webinar are out of date but are correct in the stand-alone slide deck**

NIHR Leeds BRC Non Clinical PhD Scheme webinar - YouTube

with a copy of the slide deck used at

 Leeds BRC Non Clinical PhD Webinar FINAL updated slide deck March 24 - YouTube

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

The scholarship will provide academic fees at the UK rate, as well as a stipend of £18,622 (based on the 2023/24 stipend rate, pro-rata for part time study) for up to three years (full time study or five years part time) and is available for UK applicants only. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants eligible to pay academic fees at the UK fee rate.

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