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Printing prostate tumours

   Department of Materials

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  Prof P Gardner, Dr Marco Domingos, Dr Ashwin Sachdeva  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

To apply for this programme, please visit Informal enquiries are welcome, to [Email Address Removed].

ABM CDT Prostate cancer is the most common cancers in England, affecting over 50000 patients per year leading to nearly 12000 deaths1. Although it is possible to live with prostate cancer for many years, a third of patients present with high grade disease. These are difficult to identify early and difficult to treat effectively. Once such tumours metastasise, mainly to the bone, the median survival time is 42 months. There is therefore, a desperate need to better understand this disease to both help identify aggressive cancers early and to better target therapeutics at those tumours that need urgent treatment. Unfortunately, however, current in vivo and in vitro models used in prostate cancer research have limited clinical application. Animal models such as dogs and primates are expensive and have long latency time while xenografts have a low success rate and, while reasonable for advanced cancers, are not representative of early-stage aggressive phenotypes, which are of greatest interest. The simplicity and reproducibility of 2D cellular models means that they are widely used; however, the absence of the tumour microenvironment leads to the lack of the cellular interactions of cancer cells with the surrounding cells. The aim of this programme of research therefore is the automated production of highly accurate and reproducible 3D structures that can mimic the Extracellular Matrix (ECM) biomechanical environment and elicit specific cellular responses. A reliable reproducible 3D model of a prostate tumour will be invaluable in studying intercellular interactions and for drug development studies.

Main questions to be answered:

The prostate is made up of several cell types for example, epithelial, mesenchymal, neuronal, immune, as well as cancer associated fibroblasts. The interaction of these in the development of prostate cancer and subsequent response to treatment is of great importance.

Recently we have shown that the application of tissue engineering strategies, enables the use of peptide-based hydrogels, as a printable ECM, to 3D print live prostate cells in order to create viable tissue models2. These models are simple, in that they contain just a single type of prostate cell, but demonstrate that printing 3D tumours is possible. The main question to be answered now is, can we introduce the complexity that’s required to more accurately model early stage tumours and specifically the tumour micro-environment. The challenge here is using the correct hydrogels and printing conditions to enable a variety of cell types to be printed. The cell viability is dependent of a number of factors including the rheology of the cells, chemical compatibility and printing conditions. These will need to be tailored to suit a particular cell-line and the conditions may be cell-line specific. Strategies will therefore have to be developed to enable the printing of multiple cell types.

University of Manchester, Department of Materials - 19 PhD Projects Available

University of Sheffield, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, 7 PhD Projects Available


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