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Stem Cells as novel tools for combating antimicrobial resistance

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Cristina Esteves
    Dr X Donadeu
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We seek an enthusiastic PhD student with combined interests in Stem Cell Biology and Microbiology/Immunology to undertake an exciting project aiming at developing novel therapies based on Stem Cells, to combat Antimicrobial Resistant (AMR) Infections.

As AMR infections, namely those caused by multi-resistant bacteria, constitute a major and crescent world-wide health and welfare issue for humans and animals, there is a urgent need to find novel alternatives to alleviate the heavy dependence on antibiotics to treat infection. The tissue regeneration potential of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs) has been investigated for over two decades, with clinical applications growing in both human and animals. Excitingly, it was shown recently that MSCs can effectively enhance bacterial clearance in preclinical models of infection, both through direct production of antimicrobials and through modulation of host immune cells. Clinical trials in humans are underway for AMR tuberculosis, sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome. The antimicrobial properties of MSCs have also been described in veterinary species, by us (1) and other research groups, and MSCs have been successfully used for treatment of AMR infections in dogs. These exciting results are paving the way for the future application of MSCs as novel tools to treat AMR infections both in companion animals and humans.

The student working in this project will explore different approaches for obtaining canine MSCs with high and effective antimicrobial potential, and will develop strategies to create MSC-derived ready-to-use (off-the-shelf) products to treat AMR infections. This research will also provide valuable knowledge on the biological mechanisms underpinning the antibacterial effects of MSC.

The 3-year project, supported by the Dogs Trust animal welfare charity, will be undertaken at the world-renowned Roslin Institute and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. The Roslin Institute is a centre of reference in the UK and internationally in the field of Animal Stem Cells. Significant previous work in this area by the two main supervisors in the project, Dr. Esteves and Dr. Donadeu (1, 2), will provide the basis for this project.

The student will acquire knowledge on Stem Cells and Microbiology/Immunology, and will become proficient in a variety of laboratory techniques including cell (MSCs, immune cells) and bacterial culture and biofilm assays, immune function assays, mRNA, miRNA and protein analysis (RT-qPCR, western blot and ELISA) and RNA-sequencing. In addition, the student will be expected to present her/his results at local and international scientific conferences, and as published articles.

All candidates should have, or expect to have, a minimum of an appropriate upper 2nd class degree (from an UK University) or equivalent.

Funding Notes

Applications including a statement of interest and full CV with names and addresses (including email addresses) of two academic referees, should be emailed to [Email Address Removed].

When applying for the studentship please state clearly the project title/s and the supervisor/s in your covering letter.


Cortes-Araya Y, Amilon K, Rink E, Black G, Lisowski Z, Donadeu X, Esteves CL. (2018) Comparison of antibacterial and immunological properties of Mesenchymal Stem/Stromal cells from equine Bone Marrow, Endometrium and Adipose tissue. Stem Cells Dev. Stem Cells Dev. 27 (21), 1518-1525.

Esteves CL, Sheldrake TA, Mesquita SP, Pesántez JJ, Menghini T, Dawson L, Péault B, Donadeu FX. (2017) Isolation and characterization of equine native MSC populations. Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 8(1):80-92.

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