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Self-assembly peptide hydrogels: functional characterisation for peritoneal delivery

   Department of Materials

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  Prof K Marshall, Prof Alberto Saiani, Prof E Crosbie, Dr D Fischer  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 Endometriosis is a debilitating condition that affects an estimated 190 million women worldwide. In endometriosis, cells similar to the lining of the womb grow elsewhere in the body, typically around the reproductive organs, bladder and the bowel. These endometrial-like cells form lesions that thicken, break down and bleed with each menstrual cycle leading to inflammation and the formation of scar tissue. Chronic pelvic pain, infertility and bowel obstruction are the most common symptoms with a significant impact on health-related quality of life estimated at £8.2 billion/ annum in the UK alone.

Major symptoms are eased by laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) where deposits of endometriosis are located and destroyed. However, recovery is often short-lived with over 60 percent of women requiring repeat operations due to the regrowth of residual endometriosis cells and/or the formation of new adhesions from surgical trauma. Even after surgery, continuous use of oral contraceptives and progestins are recommended for endometriosis-related pain. Often they cause side effects, including mood changes, acne and headaches, and are unsuitable in women who desire pregnancy. Good medical management may require alternative routes of drug delivery to target sites of endometriosis, such as use of a sophisticated pelvic hydrogel system.

Main questions to be answered:

  1. What are the optimal biomechanical and biochemical properties of the novel self-assembling hydrogel to ensure slow, temporal release of anti-oestrogenic drugs at their site of application?
  2. How do the pharmacokinetics, biodistribution and eventual fate of the hydrogel scaffolds change over time?
  3. Is the drug delivery system of clinical relevance? Are the therapeutic effects comparable in mouse and human cells?
  4. Do drug-loaded hydrogels cause endometrial atrophy without affecting the oestrous cycle?
  5. What are the local tissue reactions and foreign body responses to in situ hydrogel implants (changes in hormones, fibrosis, growth factors and inflammatory mediators)?
  6. How does it affect peritoneal regeneration? Is the gross histology of repaired tissues normal (integrity of mesothelium, connective tissue and vasculature)?
  7. Can a device be adapted (e.g. port catheter, spray) for administration of hydrogels within the pelvic cavity?

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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