This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

Polymersomes for the delivery of mitochrodrial disrupting peptides and additional combination therapies

Subject: Biomedical Sciences


Summary

Background

Nanotechnology coupled with advanced sophisticated therapies is leading the way for a new generation of chemotherapeutics. Drug delivery systems (DDSs), such as polymersomes (Ps), are capable of encapsulating large amounts of multiple drugs with both hydrophilic and hydrophobic properties simultaneously, as well as offering a mechanism to combat multi drug resistant cancers [1]. However, they could be improved upon by increasing their specificity by active targeting [2].

This research seeks to incorporate mitochrondrial disrupting peptides, which have limited cellular uptake, with Ps to act as carriers to enhance cellular uptake. In addition, alternative therapeutics will be added alongside the peptide to develop a multimodal cocktail of  therapeutic agents with a view to create a potent anticancer therapy, which would be effective against multiple cancer types. Previous research has shown the proapoptotic peptide (KLAKLAK)2 working alongside the photosensitiser Rose Bengal for enhanced efficacy of anticancer photodynamic therapy [3].

This proposal further seeks to explore the potential of various targeting ligands to enhance cytotoxicity of the system

Objective

To synthesis and characterise the peptide (KLAKLAK)2 and derivatives. This peptide will be incorporated within a polymer, before being formulated into a  Ps and loaded with a compound to enable quantification (a chromophore).  Various in-vitro studies will be used to determine the effacy of the DDS with multiple techniques imvestigated to optimise efficacy.

Methods

1. Synthesis and characterisation of the (KLAKLAK)2  peptide and derivatives

2. Formulation and characterisation of polymersomes loaded with chromophore.

3. Pharmacokinetic studies to determine uptake, release and stability of the DDS

4. Cell viability study to establish inherent cytotoxicity of the DDS, culminating in an in-vivo study if successful.

Requisite experience

Applicants will be expected to be familiar with good laboratory practice and cell culture experience will be a benefit.   In vivo experience would be a benefit although specific training in accordance with national requirements will be provided.

References

1.Aibani N, Nesbitt H, Marino N, Jurek J, O’Neill C, Martin C, Di Bari I, Sheng Y, Logan K, Hawthorne S, McHAle AP, Callan JF and Callan B. (2018) Electroneutral polymersomes for combined cancer chemotherapy. Acta Biomaterialia 80, 327-340.

2.Steichen SD, Caldorera-Moore M, Peppas NA. (2013) A review of current nanoparticle and targeting moieties for the delivery of cancer therapeutics.  Eur J Pharm Sci 48, 416–427

3.UK Patent Application No. 1707153.1 [information available on request]


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Work experience relevant to the proposed project
  • Publications - peer-reviewed
  • Publications record appropriate to career stage
  • Experience of presentation of research findings
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.
  • Relevant professional qualification and/or a Degree in a Health or Health related area

Funding

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,000 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,500 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


Other information


The Doctoral College at Ulster University


Reviews

Profile picture of Kieran O'Donnell

My experience has been great and the people that I have worked with have been amazing

Kieran O'Donnell - 3D printing of biological cells for tissue engineering applications

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Profile picture of Michelle Clements Clements

Completing the MRes provided me with a lot of different skills, particularly in research methods and lab skills.

Michelle Clements Clements - MRes - Life and Health Sciences

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Profile picture of William Crowe

Throughout my PhD I’ve been provided with continuous support and guidance by my supervisors and the staff at the University.I’ve also received many opportunities to further enhance my professional development in the form of teaching experience and presenting my work at conferences which will aid in my pursuit of a career in academia or industry.

William Crowe


Key dates

Submission deadline
Friday 7 February 2020

Interview Date
9 to 20 March 2020


Applying

Apply Online  


Campus

Coleraine campus

Coleraine campus
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.


Contact supervisor

Dr Bridgeen Callan


Other supervisors

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