PhD Studentship: Cell &Tissue Engineering

Keele University - Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine

Mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles as therapeutic agents in arthritis

Supervisor: Dr Oksana Kehoe
Location: The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, Oswestry.

Applications are invited for a PhD studentship under the supervision of Dr Oksana Kehoe in the Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine (ISTM) at Keele University, UK.

Project Overview:
Chronic arthritis of children, known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), affects 1 in 1000 children, and one of the leading causes of childhood-acquired disability.  JIA is a complex inflammatory disease with a multifactorial immune pathogenesis. The standard first line of management is to use disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs, however, a third of patients do not respond, and during this time, these children suffer pain, fatigue and loss of quality of life and may develop growth abnormality and disability.  

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) possess anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties and these may be exploited therapeutically.  Our results demonstrated that intra-articular injection of MSCs, mesenchymal stem cells conditioned medium or mesenchymal stem cell-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) attenuates progression of inflammation and cartilage destruction in an antigen-induced arthritis model in mice. The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties of mesenchymal stem cells are believed to be largely mediated by paracrine signals. The multidisciplinary project will verify and characterise these molecules and determine whether MSCs and MSC- derived EVs show therapeutic potential in JIA.  

This project is supported by external grants from the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital Charity, Orthopaedic Institute Ltd and ACORN Fund from Keele University.

This project would be of interest to a biomedical scientist or clinical scientist wishing to explore the therapeutic potential of stem cells for inflammation and arthritis. The project will develop a number of essential skills associated with regenerative medicine career development. These will include cell biology, fluorescent and transmission electron microscopy, immunological assays, flow cytometry, ELISA and Western blotting. The student will benefit from active collaborations with the West Midlands Paediatric Rheumatology Network. All required techniques and equipment are available in-house or via collaboration with well-established research partners. Oksana Kehoe’s lab has extensive experience in mesenchymal stem cell biology and inflammation: (https://www.keele.ac.uk/istm/staff/oksanakehoe/)

Applicants should have a first of upper-second-class honours degree or equivalent and preferably some relevant research experience. The successful candidate will be expected to work independently and be responsible for attending appropriate research methods and data analysis modules. The studentship will be available from 1st October 2017.  Three years full time stipend will be paid at the current Research Council rate (£14,553). Three years full time fees will be paid at current UK/EU rates. Funding is also available for travel to national and international conferences.

The successful candidate will enjoy access to high level facilities and instrumentation available at ISTM. Approximately 90% of ISTM's research was rated as world leading or internationally excellent in the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF2014). ISTM specialises in translational research and REF2014 results demonstrate that the research carried out at ISTM has genuine impact on the world around us. Further information can be found at https://www.keele.ac.uk/istm/

For informal enquires contact Dr Oksana Kehoe via email: (o.kehoe@keele.ac.uk).

Please quote the reference:  ISTM2017-01

Applications must be made on-line: http://www.keele.ac.uk/pgresearch/studentships/

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Type / Role:

PhD

Location(s):

Midlands of England