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Targeting lipid desaturation in aggressive cancers

Project Description

Triple Negative Breast cancer (TNBC) is a tumour type of significant clinical unmet need due to the lack of actionable biomarkers and efficacious targeted therapies. Aberrant metabolism has been known to be central to oncogenic transformation since the inception of cancer research. Indeed, some of the first treatments empirically identified to treat cancer that are widely used today target metabolic pathways. Thus, although cancers undergo metabolic transformation to promote their growth, these changes render the tumours more sensitive than non-cancerous tissues to perturbations within their metabolic network. We identified the stearoyl-CoA desaturase (SCD) to be important in hormone-independent cancers, such as TNBCs (Peck & Schug et al 2016 Cancer & Metabolism). Utilizing 3-dimensional (3D) biologically relevant models of cancer this project will interrogate the metabolic alterations that take place in triple negative breast cancers, with a focus on lipid desaturation as a tractable node in cancer, and investigate the impact extrinsic lipids have on targeting SCD.

Using 3D models the project will involve performing various complementary metabolomic and other functional genomic techniques. The eventual goal is to determine the extrinsic factors, such as dietary lipids, that impact disease trajectory and treatment response.

A graduate with an interest in cancer cell biology/cancer metabolism, with or is expecting at least an upper second class honours degree in a relevant biological/biochemical subject, is required for this project involving investigating the role of lipid desaturation in aggressive cancers. An MSc/MRes, or laboratory experience, in a relevant area may well prove advantageous. The project will commence ideally in January 2020 and has funding for 3 years from Barts Health. The student will be based primarily at the Barts Cancer Institute, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry (SMD), Charterhouse Square in the City of London.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes the following funding for 3 years:

A tax-free annual stipend of £21,000
Tuition fees at the Home/EU rate*
Project consumables

*If you are considered an overseas student for fee purposes, you are welcome to apply for this studentship, however you will be required to cover the difference in tuition fees.

How good is research at Queen Mary University of London in Clinical Medicine?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 144.11

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