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(MRC CASE DTP) Breath sampling for biomarker discovery in lung disease: investigating parameters affecting recovery of exhaled volatile organic compounds

Project Description

Our ambition is to discover and validate disease biomarkers present in the exhaled breath. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), arising from metabolic processes, both human and non-human, provide a rich source of potential markers. Hundreds of VOCs are present in the breath, but at very low concentration, making up less than 1% of the total exhaled breath content. These breath VOCs arise from airway, pulmonary, and systemic sources, and targeting diseases affecting each of these compartments may require specific sampling methods. There are many current challenges in breath sampling, and a major push internationally to generate data to support standardisation of methods, and hence facilitate the large scale multicentre studies that will be required to discover and validate robust breath biomarkers. The student working in this project will be able to draw upon academic and commercial expertise in biomedical engineering, lung physiology, analytical chemistry and multivariate data analysis in order to investigate key questions relevant to targeted breath sampling, including:
1. What are the influences of structural airway and parenchymal disease on breath VOC concentrations?
2. How do exhalation flow rates affect sampled VOC concentrations? .
3. How do we minimise upper airway sampling?

Research Environment: Manchester Breathomics Group is a multidisciplinary team with expertise in clinical research, analytical chemistry and chemometrics. The student will be based within Manchester Institute of Biotechnology and the NIHR Respiratory and Allergy Clinical Research Facility at Wythenshawe Hospital. Specific training (alongside the PhD training programme provided by the University and Institute) will cover all necessary aspects of lung physiology, VOC sampling and analysis, and data handling, providing a broad platform for the student to pursue through the PhD and beyond. In addition, training will be provided to cover the clinical aspects of the projects, including in ethics and Good Clinical Practice.
Owlstone Medical is the world leader in the validation and commercialisation of exhaled breath tools for clinical practice. Owlstone can complement the expertise of the MIB by sharing its expertise in engineering, manufacturing and clinical assay development. In the context of this project the student will work on co-developing the lab based lung models that Owlstone are generating. Owlstone will provide training in manufacturing of breath collection equipment, experimental strategies for assay development and validation as well as insights into regulatory requirements for commercialisation.


For more information, please contact Dr Stephen Fowler or Prof Roy Goodacre

Funding Notes

This is a CASE studentship in partnership with Owlstone Medical and will be funded under the MRC Doctoral Training Programme. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Supervisor to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form. On the application form under Programme Description, select 'MRC DTP PhD Programme'. Interviews will be held w/c 16 July.

Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

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