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Undergraduate research opportunity in School of Pharmacy and Bimolecular Science

Understanding the effect of stress on breast cancer metastasis to the brain

Cancer metastasis accounts for 90% of cancer-related deaths. In order for metastasis to occur, the primary tumour must invade, migrate and adhere to a new site. Stress has been shown to contribute to metastasis but the mechanisms are unclear.

This project aims to understand the effect of stress on breast cancer metastasis to the brain using an in vitro 3D co-culture model of breast cancer spheroids and brain organotypic slices treated with the stress hormone, cortisol (mimicking a tumour metastasis model) and a cortisol blocker. Following the co-culture, the brain organotypic slices will be imaged for markers of metastasis to determine how stress can promote cancer spread.

The results of this project will help better understand the molecular pathway leading to cancer metastasis, which would pave new ways to mitigate this process and control the progression of cancer. The student will develop an important understanding of cancer research and related techniques such as cell culture and imaging along with software knowledge.

The student will also have an opportunity to develop writing and presenting skills and the placement is likely to lead to authorship on a manuscript. Dr Flint’s team routinely work with patients and offers lab tours and the student will be able to contribute to this and learn how to explain scientific research to the lay public.

Dr Flint is committed to mentoring researchers and will support the student in pursuing their goals with cancer research. Dr Flint has links with industry (Corcept/Mint diagnostics) and also with other universities and cancer researchers both nationally and internationally. This will afford the student opportunities to pursue a career in Pharma or higher education (MSc or PhD).

Interested in applying?

Contact Project Lead, Dr Melanie Flint, Reader in Cancer Biology:

bimolecular scienceopportunitypharmacyplacementresearchresearch project

Dan Archer • 06/05/2021

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