PhD Studentship in Anti-cancer activities of dietary isothiocyanates
University of East Anglia - Norwich Medical School
United Kingdom

Project description:

Sulforaphane (SFN) is an isothiocyanate (ITC) derived from glucosinolate (glucoraphanin) under the action of myrosinase when the plant tissue is damaged or chewed. Glucoraphanin is found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages. Epidemiological studies show that people who consume more cruciferous vegetables associate with a reduced risk of many types of cancer.

The chemopreventive effect has been attributed to the bioactivity of SFN.  SFN is known to induce cell cycle arrest, apoptosis, autophagy and a number of antioxidant enzymes via the KEAP1-Nrf2-ARE pathway. However, SFN possesses hormetic effects on angiogenesis (low doses of SFN promote tube formation and high doses inhibit) (1,2). We have recently synthesised a novel silica (Si) quantum-dot (QD) conjugated-AITC, which abolished the low doses stimulatory effects (3). In this proposal, a range of selected ITCs such as AITC, BITC, Erucin, Iberin and PEITC will be investigated using a 3D co-culture of HUVECs and pericytes, and implantation of tumor (Bladder cancer and/or Liver cancer) cells onto the extraembryonic membranes of developing chick eggs - the chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay (4). One or two the most active ITCs will be further encapsulated using nano-techniques (5).

Hypothesis: Some forms of ITC may have stronger bioactivity than that of SFN and nano-encapsulated ITCs may possess enhanced anti- angiogenetic, and anti-tumor activities.

There are 3 main objectives:

(i)   to determine the effectiveness of selected ITCs on cell proliferation, apoptosis and autophagy.

(ii)   to compare the bioactivity of nano encapsulated ITCs with non-encapsulated form on angiogenesis (tube formation) using 3D co-culture HUVECs and pericytes model.

(iii)  to assess the effectiveness of the most effective ITCs (and in nano forms)  on angiogensis and tumor growth using the in vivo CAM assay.

Person specification

A) Acceptable first degree. Acceptable first-degree subject areas including Biochemistry, Cell/Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology/Oncology, and Nutrition

B) The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1

Funding notes:

This PhD studentship is funded by the Cancer Prevention Research Trust. Funding comprises Home/EU fees and an annual stipend of £14,777.  Overseas applicants may apply but are required to fund the difference between home/EU and overseas tuition fees (in 2018/19 the difference is £14,090 for Norwich Medical School but fees are subject to an annual increase).

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