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Reducing morbidity and mortality from myeloma by earlier diagnosis using a rapid and simple blood test

  • Full or part time

    Dr M Drayson
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 17, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

Project Description

The postgraduate researcher will be based within The Clinical Immunology Service (CIS) at the University of Birmingham. The CIS is an interface between laboratory, industry and clinical practice. As a large diagnostic service, we are in a unique position to carry out patient–focused research. The development of new immunodiagnostics is a major aim for the CIS and we have a successful track record of commercialisation of clinical tests in the field of hematology and oncology.

The aim of this project is to develop a simple, rapid blood test that can accelerate myeloma diagnosis. Myeloma is a cancer of bone marrow plasma cells that causes anaemia, kidney and skeletal damage and severe immunodeficiency. Of the major cancers, myeloma ranks worst for diagnostic delays and this causes substantial morbidity and early mortality. In the UK there are a median three consultations in primary care before hospital referral. Diagnosis is an even greater problem in low-middle income countries with limited resources and restricted access to the specialised laboratory tests currently required for diagnosis. The project will help address this global challenge of diagnosis and time to diagnosis.

The project includes 3 main phases: 1) Test development, optimisation and analytical evaluation, which will be supported through placements with an industry partner who are experts in immunoassay development; 2) Laboratory analysis of clinical samples to validate the test and provide evidence of sensitivity and specificity; 3) The final project phase will require testing the device in preliminary studies in clinical practice. This will include one site in the UK and one site in Africa and the postgraduate researcher will have the opportunity to travel to support setting up the clinical pilot studies. Working in a clinical laboratory, alongside industry and collaborating with clinicians, the goal is to generate an evidence-base for the new test for future uptake in larger trials and towards commercialisation to achieve patient benefits in different settings.

The postgraduate researcher will develop interdisciplinary skills (serology laboratory testing, assay development in an industry setting using a versatile technology platform, and test evaluation in clinical practice). The skills they will learn via the translational project pathway (test development through to clinical studies) can be applied in a broad range of scientific fields and career pathways. The CIS includes several PGR and post-doctoral researchers and can provide a supportive and friendly working environment.

Person Specification
Applicants should have a strong background in biological or medical sciences, and ideally a background in immunology or cancer. They should have a commitment to research to improve patient diagnosis and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in biological or medical sciences or other discipline relevant to the PhD project e.g. medical technology, medical sciences and engineering.

Funding Notes

Please check the MRC website for full eligibility criteria View Website

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