Exit Menu

Do Cas9 induced increases in chromosome instability in cancer cells have therapeutic potential?

Many common cancer treatments such as radiotherapy and some chemotherapy agents function by inducing DNA damage and chromosomal instability in cancer cells at high enough levels to cause cell death. However, these treatments can have severe side effects and many factors cause tumours to have resistance to them. We have observed that the nuclease Cas9, commonly used in CRISPR-Cas9 genome engineering, can cause chromosome instability in cancer cells with unstable chromosomes.

In this project, the student will aim to determine whether treatment with Cas9 could have the potential to kill cancer cells, without such severe effects in normal cells. We will test this treatment in isolation or together with common chemotherapy agents and radiation. With this research, we could potentially uncover a novel therapeutic avenue to explore for the treatment of many cancer types. The student will be working with both normal and cancer cells. They will become skilled in tissue culture, cell transfection and transduction, treatment with chemotherapy drugs and radiation, and a variety of cytogenetic analysis techniques.

Candidates will have a degree in biological sciences and laboratory experience. Expertise in tissue culture, molecular biology and cytogenetics is desirable but training will be given on the specific techniques and equipment required for the project. All candidates will require good oral and written communication skills and the ability to work as part of a team and independently. They will need to become knowledgeable about the field and will become confident and proactive at designing and analysing their experiments. They will be expected to participate regularly in lab meetings and journal clubs, and to present their results at both internal and external conferences during their PhD.


  • Rayner E. CRISPR J. 2019;2(6):406-16.

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%.

Meet the Supervisor(s)

Annabelle Lewis - I am a lecturer in biomedical sciences and run a research laboratory. My research interest is cancer genetics and gene regulation, focusing on colorectal cancer. We use cell lines and animal models to study how common variants in the human genome affect the expression of key cancer genes, and increase the risk of an individual developing cancer.