PhD Studentship Novel synthetic tissue-protective cytokines in tissue regeneration and wound repair

Supervisors: Pietro Ghezzi, Anthony Metcalfe, Simon Otter

Application deadline: 4pm, 27 June 2013

There is a considerable interest in regenerative medicine for the therapy of traumatic, mechanical or ischemic injury. Initial injury is aggravated by expansion of damage due to cell death and inflammation. However, successful therapeutic strategies will need not only to target these two mechanisms, inhibiting inflammation and cell death, but also to promote repair, remodelling and regeneration. This project is based on our pioneering findings on the neuroprotective, tissue-protective and reparative properties of erythropoietin (EPO) and its derivatives. We believe that EPO is one example of a tissue-protective cytokine (TPC) and that other cytokines might share its protective actions sharing similar tissue-protective receptors to promote repair and wound healing and investigate their effects on scar reduction.

The present project aims at identifying the protective effects of TPCs, and the peptide sequence responsible for the protective action and the receptors involved in their effect on wound healing, reinnervation and myelination, and plasticity. We will study the possibility of immobilizing TPC, or peptide fragments of them, onto biomaterials. These would have the advantage of remaining at the site of application – for instance in neural guides for nerve regeneration. In addition, dendrimer-based biomaterials have been used to deliver drugs through the blood-brain barrier. The research project will involve using cell biology and molecular biology and designing biomimetic biomaterials, culturing neurons, oligodendrocytes or other cells and studying gene expression by PCR or microarrays. Because infection is a complication of wound injury we will also evaluate the effect of TPCs on bacterial growth.

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The project will consist in testing the effect of TPCs in models of inflammation and cellular injury in vitro. Then, cytokines or their peptides will be linked to biomaterials with the aim of developing tissue-protective bioactive biomaterials. The goal of this project is to have biomaterials that could be tested using organ-specific models of tissue injury and wound healing. This project will add to the knowledge of the mechanisms of action of cytokines in terms of receptors mechanisms and will lead to the development of novel strategies for designing biomimetic biomaterials.

The student will work in a stimulating environment in the laboratories of Professor Pietro Ghezzi, who participated in the discovery of tissue-protective cytokines, and Prof. Gordon Ferns, who studies the basic mechanisms of vascular injury, both at the Brighton & Sussex Medical School in Falmer, and the nanomaterials and tissue regeneration in Moulsecoomb, Brighton, in collaboration with the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation in East Grinstead, the School of Health Professions and the Leaf Hospital, Eastbourne.

Candidates are encouraged to search Pubmed for publications by the main investigators to have an idea of their research.

Funding notes: Each studentship is valued at £58,500 over three years and includes funding to cover annual tuition fees and a contribution towards living costs. It is available to students worldwide.

Eligibility and how to apply: Please visit our website

Further Information: Contact the office of Professor David Arnold, dean of the Doctoral College on: +44 (0)1273 761432 or

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