PhD Position in Development and Preclinical Evaluation of Diagnostic and Therapeutic Radiopharmaceuticals Targeting CXCR4
Catholic University of Leuven
Belgium

 
The work will be performed in the laboratory of radiopharmaceutical research under the direct supervision of Prof. F. Cleeren (www.radiopharmacy.be). The lab is equipped with all the necessary state-of-the-at equipment for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic radiopharmaceuticals. For the pre-clinical validation of novel diagnostic and therapeutic radiotracers in small animals, dedicated imaging instrumentation can be accessed at the Molecular Small Animal Imaging Centre (moSAIC). Novel radiopharmaceuticals are translated to the clinic in direct collaboration with the Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (NMMI) unit of the University Hospital (UZ) Leuven. KU Leuven is one of the top 50 universities in the world (top 10 in Europe) according to the "Times Higher Education" ranking, and ranks #7 (top in Europe) in the "Worlds Most Innovative Universities" ranking elaborated by Reuters. KU Leuven offers an exciting multi-disciplinary research environment, a broad range of training courses for PhD students, and full social and medical insurance.

Project

Increased understanding of the crucial role of chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in tumor biology has resulted in the development of radiopharmaceuticals that can provide sensitive detection of CXCR4 expression and allow patient selection for CXCR4-targeted therapies. The radiopharmaceutical is distributed within the body by the vascular system and allows targeting of a primary tumor and all its metastases. The specific decay characteristics of the radionuclide determine if the radiopharmaceutical can be used for diagnostic (e.g. PET, SPECT) or therapeutic (targeted radionuclide therapy) purposes (theranostic approach).68Ga-Pentixafor is the only CXCR4-targeted imaging agent that has found broad clinical applicability so far. However, due to the low production capacity, implementation of 68Ga-Pentixafor in clinical practice is still limited. Fluorine-18 (18F) is the radionuclide of choice for PET and a 18F-labeled CXCR4-targeted radiopharmaceutical is highly warranted.  Further, results with the therapeutic companion radiopharmaceutical 177Lu-Pentixather are promising, but there is still room for improvement regarding pharmacokinetics and dosimetry profile. Moreover, a CXCR4-targeted radiopharmaceutical labeled with an α-emitter might present a breakthrough in therapy of various CXCR4 expressing tumors such as multiple myeloma. Therefore,the aim of this project is to develop innovative CXCR4 radiopharmaceuticals from bench to bedside, both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, starting from new vector molecules that have not been explored yet for nuclear medicine applications.

The project will involve, but is not limited to, organic synthesis, various analytical techniques (NMR, HPLC, HRMS, …), radiochemistry with diagnostic and therapeutic radionuclides, in vitro cell work, in vivo imaging studies in small animals, therapeutic efficacy studies in tumor models and preparation for clinical translation in collaboration with Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (NMMI) unit (Prof. C. Deroose).

Profile

  • Master degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Master of Science in Bioengineering, Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences, Master of Science in Biochemistry, or equivalent. Students in their final master year can also apply.
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is mandatory
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary and collaborative environment
  • Ability to write clear scientific reports and disseminate results
  • Good oral, interpersonal and written communication skills
  • Willing to apply for additional personal PhD grants (e.g. FWO)
  • You will engage yourself with enthusiasm and perseverance to a four-year research project
  • You are ambitious, dynamic, flexible and take an open attitude towards problems and evolutions

Offer

We offer a fulltime PhD position for 1 year, extendable to 4 years after initial positive evaluation. Training in safe handling of radioactive compounds is provided.

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Frederik Cleeren, tel.: +32 16 37 72 37, mail: frederik.cleeren@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than February 01, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: February 1, 2021
  • Tags: Farmaceutische en Farmacologische Wetenschappen


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