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Role of extracellular vesicle communication in the development of secondary malignancies in chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients S&T19

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T19

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients are commonly treated with imatinib, a drug highly efficient for this malignancy. However, its success in maintaining patient survival and the prolonged treatment time has led to some level of controversy: some studies support no links between imatinib treatment and secondary malignancies development (Gugliotta et al., 2017) whilst others find a higher incidence ratio of secondary malignancies in treated CML patients (Miranda et al., 2016; Kumar et al., 2018; Gunnarsson et al., 2015). In those cases where there was a clear association between CML occurrence/treatment and posterior development of secondary malignancies, any efforts at decreasing the appearances of these malignancies were thwarted because no mechanisms have been suggested to date.

Our group has been studying the content of extracellular vesicles secreted by chronic myeloid leukaemia cells and we have preliminary data suggesting their possible involvement in this process. There are several types of extracellular vesicles (exosomes, microvesicles, apoptotic vesicles…) and all can be considered a form of communication between cells, locally or distantly, as they contain proteins, DNA, mRNA and non-coding RNAs that can affect gene expression and behaviour of the recipient cells. Indeed, there are several examples in the literature involving these vesicles in tumour initiation and metastasis. And whilst cancer-derived extracellular vesicles share some of their contents, is in their uniqueness where resides the specific potential of these vesicles as cell communication tools. We are particularly interested in the microRNA content of these vesicles, its likely changes and role during CML progression and its possible use as a diagnostic biomarker.

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a passion for exploring cancer progression mechanisms. The project will be based at the John van Geest Cancer Research Centre in Nottingham Trent University, with a tight collaboration with the U. of Salamanca in Spain. The Director of Studies, Dr Cristina Montiel-Duarte, has a wide expertise in molecular and cellular mechanisms and her previous PhD candidates have gained postdoctoral positions at the Mayo Clinic, in USA, and the U. of Cambridge in the UK. Dr Christos Polytarchou, the second supervisor, is an internationally recognised expert in the field of microRNAs with publications in top journals; and Dr Fermin Sanchez-Guijo, the third supervisor, is a haematologist based at the University of Salamanca (Spain) with direct access to CML patient samples and an expert in the field of leukaemia.

School strategic research priority

The project fits within the University and School of Science and Technology’s strategic Health and Wellbeing research theme.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 7 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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