Role of tumour-derived exosomes in chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Dr Carlos Salomon

Chemoresistance is one of the major obstacles in the treatment of cancer patients.  It poses a fundamental challenge to the effectiveness of chemotherapy and is often linked to relapse in patients. Chemoresistant cells can be identified in different types of cancers, however, ovarian cancer has one of the highest rates of chemoresistance-related relapse (50% of patients within 5 years). Resistance in cells can either develop through prolonged cycles of treatment or through intrinsic pathways. Mechanistically, the problem of drug resistance is complex mainly because numerous factors are involved, such as overexpression of drug efflux pumps, drug inactivation, DNA repair mechanisms and alterations to and/or mutations in the drug target. Additionally, there is strong evidence that circulating miRNAs participate in the development of chemoresistance. The past decade has observed an extraordinary explosion of research in the field of EVs, especially in a specific type of EVs originating from endosomal compartments, called exosomes. Exosomes are a specific subtype of secreted vesicles that are defined as small (~30-120 nm) but very stable membrane vesicles that are released from a wide range of cells, including healthy and cancer cells. As the content of exosomes is cell type specific, we recently proposed that the exosomes are “fingerprints” of the releasing cells and their metabolic status. Exosomes released from cancer cells may modify the phenotype of target cells inducing cancerous phenotype, contributing to tumour growth and metastasis. Exosomes from ovarian carcinoma cells are present in the peripheral circulation. Condition-specific changes in the concentration of tumour-derived exosomes may be of clinical utility in the early identification of women with ovarian cancer.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of extracellular vesicles, protein analysis, cell culture, in vivo experiments and miRNA analysis would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of biomedical science and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of cell biology is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 2, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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