A Gastrointestinal Epithelial Organoid Assay to Identify Non-Toxic Chemoradiation Combinations for Cancer Treatment


Every year worldwide half a million patients receive radiotherapy to their abdomen and/or pelvis for tumours including rectal, oesophageal, bladder, prostate or cervix cancer. The radiation field inevitably includes surrounding normal bowel. Eighty percent of patients develop symptoms at the end of treatment which can be severe and which can be long-lasting. For many tumour sites, giving radiosensitising chemotherapy with radiotherapy is more effective than radiotherapy alone but this can increase intestinal normal tissue toxicity.

The aim of this project is to continue to develop and utilise an in vitro assay in mouse and human intestinal samples, in collaboration with Prof Fiona Powrie’s group at the Kennedy Institute, to screen for novel radiosensitisers that do not add to normal tissue toxicity.

The student will generate intestinal organoids and develop an in vitro assay to measure radiosensitisation. The organoid technique will then be refined to include endothelial cells, which may be critical in radiation response, and gut peristalsis, using microfluidics gut-on-a-chip technology.

The student will receive state-of-the-art training in organoid cell culture, high content imaging, advanced microscopy and molecular biology techniques, and will gain experience in working with primary human tissues, with the opportunity to undertake in vivo work.

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