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Therapeutic potential of microRNAs in medullary thyroid carcinoma

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

The Project
Medullary thyroid cancer is a rare, aggressive neuroendocrine tumour. Treatment of MTC poses a major challenge due to its propensity of early metastasis and no available adjuvant systemic treatment options. The human REarranged during Transfection (RET) proto-oncogene is the key driver of MTC and the major focus of multiple intracellular pathways that determine the morphologic outcome of malignancy. However the therapeutic efficacy of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) targeting RET appears to be quite modest in clinics, due to the significant adverse effects and the clinical resistance to TKIs, including primary resistance and the onsets of acquired resistance to TKIs.

Recent developments in the understanding of the biology of miRNAs have highlighted their therapeutic potential, in particular their functional roles in modulating molecularly targeted therapies. Our in vitro data has found that specific RET-associated miRNAs inhibited cell growth and modulated TKI responses (Thyroid, in press, 2019). Further, preliminary in vivo studies indicated that TKI cabozantinib treatment may have triggered acquired resistance in mice over time while miRNA could potentially enhance the tumour suppression effect of cabozantinib.

This proposal seeks to rationally develop innovative miRNA plus TKI treatments in MTC pre-clinical models. We propose to investigate how combined treatment of miRNAs plus TKIs would reverse the TKI resistance and improve therapeutic efficacy.

However, using miRNAs as a novel therapeutics, the most critical challenge is the lack of efficient tumour-targeted delivery vehicles, leading to potential collateral, off target effects. We have formed the collaboration with the EnGeneIC Biotechnology Company (Australia) and have granted access to their patented nanoparticle EnGeneIC Delivery Vehicles (EDVs).

The use of the effective EDV nanoparticle delivery system will remain the key to translating such therapeutics into the clinic.

The Candidate
The ideal candidate has expertise in cell culture, RNA biology and bioinformatics of high throughput sequencing data"

About the Faculty
The Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at UTS is a world-class faculty with a growing reputation for its quality and impact. Our research is highly advanced, industry-focused and part of the lively and rigorous research culture at UTS.

Focused on ’practical innovation’, our researchers are pioneering research solutions with real-world impact. They’re recognised leaders in their fields, responsible for delivering new, better and more cost-effective innovative solutions to current national and international challenges.

Over the last five years, the Faculty has received more than 60 Australian Research Council projects and attracted a total research funding well in excess of $30 million.

About the University
UTS is a dynamic and innovative university in central Sydney. One of Australia’s leading universities of technology, UTS has a distinct model of learning, strong research performance and a leading reputation for engagement with industry and the professions.

UTS has a culturally diverse campus life and vibrant international exchange study and research programs that prepare graduates for the workplaces of today and the future.

Our world leading research centres span a range of disciplines, including physical, biological and engineering sciences, and contemporary fields such as design, nanotechnology and sustainability. Our researchers provide practical and relevant solutions to issues of national and international importance and equip graduates with the latest discipline specific skills and practices.

We also maintain strong relationships with the local community, industry, business and the professions through a wide range of partnerships, projects and events.

Funding Notes

UTS Competitive Scholarships available

Application Deadlines
Domestic Students
Autumn 2020 - 30 September 2019 - For commencement January 2020

International Students
Autumn 2020 - 30 June 2019 - For commencement January 2020

To apply contact Prof G. Hutvagner - View Website

View Website


Apply here -

Prof G. Hutvagner -

Biomedical Engineering at UTS -

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