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USP17 as a cancer therapeutic target

School of Pharmacy

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Dr J Burrows Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

USP17 is over-expressed in a range of primary tumours including NSCLC, breast, colorectal, cervical, ovarian and osteosarcoma and its depletion has been shown to block the growth of cells from all these cancer types. In addition, USP17 depletion blocks the migration of a range of cancer cells (NSCLC, breast, ovarian, osteosarcoma), as well as impeding the stem like properties of NSCLC cancer cells. As a result, any tumour overexpressing this enzyme could represent a potential target for a therapeutic directed against USP17.
We have been working to further elucidate the function of USP17 to help us understand how targeting this deubiquitinating enzyme impacts upon cancer cells and confirm it as a viable therapeutic target. Recently, we have shown that depleting USP17 can block the proliferation of NSCLC cancer cells, independent of their EGFR mutational status and that USP17 depletion in NSCLC cells harboring EGFR activating mutations can trigger apoptosis, due to their failure to activate Src. We have also demonstrated that depleting USP17 in combination with gefitinib treatment can trigger apoptosis in EGFR wild type NSCLC cancer cells. Therefore, this project will further investigate the function of USP17 in NSCLC cancer cells, as well as examining if targeting other pathways/enzymes in conjunction with USP17 could enhance any therapeutic effect observed.
The student will be part of a cross-disciplinary team based in the School of Pharmacy with Dr Burrows. The student will have the opportunity to learn a broad range of molecular and cell biology techniques. This project will also allow the student to gain skills in written and verbal scientific presentation skills.

Funding Notes

Applicants should have a 1st or 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Molecular Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline. Students who have a 2.2 honours degree and a Master’s degree may also be considered, but the School reserves the right to shortlist for interview only those applicants who have demonstrated high academic attainment to date
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