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Investigating the effects of surfactant proteins in ovarian cancer progression

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in in women; every year 7,000 women are diagnosed in UK. It is the second most common occurring in the reproductive tract and the fifth overall. It is associated with very high mortality; after 5 years typically less than one third of patients diagnosed are still surviving. The cure rate for women with ovarian cancer has not significantly changed over the past 10 years. Surfactant proteins are important for clearing pathogens, maintaining pulmonary homeostasis and survival. These proteins have been localised in various parts of the human reproductive tract, including the ovaries. Surfactant protein D (SP-D) has recently been implicated in cancer and has been reported to have an inhibitory role. Tumour cells can be affected by the inflammatory environment and that can have an effect on tumour proliferation and metastasis, thus making surfactant proteins’ role even more important.

We hypothesised that SP-D has a potential inhibitory role in ovarian cancer progression since it is expressed in various parts in the reproductive tract. The main objectives are:
1. Identify the effects of intrauterine tissue secreted proteins on cancer cell proliferation. For this, conditioned media from myometrial and endometrial cells treated with SP-D will be used to treat 3 distinct human ovarian cancer cell lines.
2. Study the effects of SP-D on gene expression of surfactant proteins and mTOR pathway components.
3. Elucidate the effects of SP-D on cell proliferation as well as apoptosis or involvement in any other cytotoxic or cytostatic events.
For this project we will employ a wide repertoire of molecular, cellular and biochemical techniques. All techniques are well established, so no caveats are anticipated.

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.