Intercalated Degrees for Dental Students
An intercalated degree involves an extra year of study, which is inserted between the years of the undergraduate dental course, leading to the qualification of BMedSci.
It is an opportunity to obtain a deeper understanding of one of the subjects introduced in the dental course, and will allow students to undertake a substantial research project. Research forms an essential part of a student´s dental training, and this degree presents an early opportunity to develop research skills and potential.
An intercalated degree will also considerably enhance a student´s CV, and broaden employment prospects. For those interested in pursuing an academic career, it is even more worthwhile.
Although BMedSci students do very diverse projects it is expected that all students will have common aims and objectives (learning outcomes) and that these will be fostered in the mandatory short course and in the supervisory element of the programme as well as the students’ own self-directed study.
|Meet our Ambassadors||
These Ambassadors are former students who have successfully obtained their BMedSci degrees in the recent past. All of them had the opportunity to present their work at regional and National meetings with some students going on to win the ‘Junior Colgate Prize’ which is the most recognised and respected undergraduate research award in the country.
These Ambassadors have volunteered to help and guide future prospective BMedSci students or any students interested in research or academia. Feel free contact them via email for an informal chat from the student perspective.
When did I do my BMedSci
I started my BMedSci in 2014, after my 2nd year of the BDS course.
My project focused on a group of developmental genes known as the Hox genes and explored their role in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. I specifically investigated the consequences of inhibiting the essential Hox cofactor, Pbx, and sought to determine whether this has potential as a targeted anti-cancer therapy. This project required a range of research techniques including cell culture, qPCR, Western blotting, cytotoxicity assays and flow cytometry.
During the BMedSci year I presented my research in progress to the staff and students of the Dental School at the Friday lunchtime speaker slot. Since then, I have also presented my findings as a poster at the Guy’s Hospital INSPIRE event.
What I gained from my BMedSci
The BMedSci has been a great opportunity to get a taste for academia; it can be seen as a chance to independently explore a topic of interest in depth, and gives you the freedom to direct your own research project. In addition to learning the laboratory skills necessary for scientific research, I have also developed transferable skills such as critical appraisal, academic writing and time management. Furthermore, working in a laboratory is a sociable experience and gives you the opportunity to both learn from and teach a number of different people - an experience that has improved my ability to communicate relatively complicated information.
When did I do my BMedSci
I completed my BMedSci project between my 2nd and 3rd BDS in the year 2013/2014
I was investigating the role of a single gene in the development of oral cancer. Specifically looking at a potential role in the immortalisation process. It involved using a wide variety of research methods and skills such as cell culture, qPCR, western blotting, immunohistochemistry, transient transfections as well as flow cytometry.
So far I have presented my work in Cardiff for the BSODR meeting and Guy’s hospital for the INSPIRE meeting. I also have the opportunity to present my work at the IADR meeting in Seoul in 2016.
Honours or prizes
Following my presentation at the BSODR meeting I won the junior Colgate prize. As part of this prize I have been given the opportunity to present my work in South Korea in 2016.
What I gained from my BMedSci
Completing a BMedSci has allowed me to develop many new skills as well as enhance others already gained. It has also provided a wealth of opportunities outside the normal BDS curriculum. For example as part of the writing process you will read many scientific papers vastly expanding you experience in this area. This is very useful latter in the BDS course and for postgraduate study and development. I have also gained knowledge and practise of several basic research methods which are transferable to other projects, such as during a PhD.
When did I do my BMedSci?
2013-14, between 2nd and 3rd BDS
My project attempted to investigate the dental pulp as a source of Schwann cells for future use in cell-conduit based therapies for nerve regeneration following peripheral nerve injuries. It involved a range of techniques, including primary tissue culture and immunocytochemistry, in order to see if dental pulp tissue could potentially offer a population of Schwann cells that could be directly cultured from the tissue itself or indirectly cultured through differentiation of dental pulp stem cells.
This qualitative study established primary culture techniques, from rat sciatic nerve and dental pulp, in a laboratory with little previous experience of this methodology. My results will facilitate future investigations into dental pulp derived Schwann cells, both directly and indirectly derived, and the incorporation of these Schwann cells into conduits to assess improved regeneration capacity in an animal model compared to current sub-optimal techniques.
As well as presenting to staff and postgraduate students at the school of clinical dentistry, I also presented my work at the INSPIRE event at Guy's Hospital London, a meeting looking at how to encourage cross-over between clinical and academic dentistry; encouraging dental students to participate in research. I also presented a poster on my research at the 2016 ABAOMS conference in Sheffield.
What I gained from my BMedSci
Undertaking a BMedSci allowed me to gain a whole range of skills that will make me a better dentist as well as additional skill sets that open my options and may prove to be useful throughout my career. On top of the practical lab skills, I am now comfortable in tackling research papers and critiquing evidence which is a huge help in both clinical and academic dentistry. The experience of working on a project where nobody knows the answers and you have to find them out for yourself is challenging but hugely enjoyable, as well as making the larger projects and independence of later BDS years feel more natural. The extra clinical time during the BMedSci is also useful, adding to the confidence you gain…as well as being useful for taking the pressure off targets! I also really enjoyed gaining an insight ‘behind the scenes’ of a department I might be interested my career in; being in neuroscience you’re surrounded by clinical and semi-clinical oral surgeons and academics. It’s also been great to get to know a different year as I rejoined the BDS and really wasn’t a problem getting back into the swing of things.
Overall, it’s not an easy year and it’s quite a culture shift at first but I have no doubt it’s made me a better dentist and given me skills I’ll use in the future hopefully working at the interface between clinical and academic dentistry.
When did I do my BMedSci
I was the first for many years to undertake a BMedSci degree as a Sheffield BDS student between third and fourth BDS years (in July 2009 - July 2010).
My project was an oral microbiology research project on the ‘role of outer membrane protein A in porphyromonas gingivalis biofilm formation and host cell interaction’ with supervisors Dr G.Stafford and Prof. I. Douglas. I dedicated my year to investigating the role of a major outer membrane protein (also found on the E.coli bacterium) on this key periodontal pathogen, and how it affects its ability to form biofilms and adhere to host cells in periodontal pathogenesis. My biggest achievement was the creation of an anaerobic P.gingivalis mutant, which took a great deal of time and hard work.
I have presented at several national conferences as an oral presentation entrant, which include:
Since completing my own project, my work has been continued and additionally presented as a poster by current University of Sheffield PhD student, Kate Naylor at:
Honours or prizes
I achieved a 2:1 degree with honours and I was selected to represent the University of Sheffield at many prestigious conferences and the BDA/Dentsply Student Clinician Awards in 2011.
What I gained from my BMedSci
Taking a year out of my dental studies to undertake a year in research was a tough decision, but I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking at the prospect of an academic/ hospital career pathway. I gained an appreciation for the research that goes into developing a greater understanding of the main dental diseases for clinicians. From my own research I have a better understanding of oral microbiology, genetics and cell biology, as well as different types of research and techniques.
Undoubtedly I feel I gained a great deal from my BMedSci, which is regularly asked about at recent job interviews. Since graduating I have successfully secured hospital training placements including recently Paediatric DCT at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital, with a view to looking at specialist training in the future.
When did I do my BMedSci: I studied for my BMedSci in 2010-2011.
My project: My project involved looking at the role of a specific signalling molecule in head and neck cancer. Working on this project enabled me to meet new people and develop my time management and writing skills. Initially I was apprehensive, but I really enjoyed the year and I am glad I made the decision to do a BMedSci.
Presentations and honours: My research gave me the chance to present my work at the PER/IADR conference in Finland. From this I won the Junior Colgate prize which has given me the fantastic opportunity to go to Seattle in February 2013.
What I gained from this year: Overall I found the year very beneficial and I have learnt many transferable skills which have come in useful during the BDS course. It is a really worthwhile year.
When did I do my BMedSci: I commenced with my BMedSci after finishing 2nd year of BDS, re-entering 3rd BDS a year later.
My project: The title of my project was the ‘The role of lymphotactin in oral mucosal wound healing’. Essentially, my year was spent conducting a follow on study from a previous PhD student, Dr. A Khurram, in the same department of the dental school (oral and maxillofacial pathology). He made a novel discovery that the receptor for the aforementioned lymphotactin, existed in the oral mucosa, and did copious amounts of lab work which suggested it may play a role in wound healing in the oral cavity. My study aimed to test this hypothesis by creating wound healing conditions inside a laboratory environment and trying to modify the rate at which it occurred with the addition of lymphotactin. I also undertook immunohistochemistry where I stained tissue sections for both lymphotactin and its receptor.
Presentations: I presented my work twice in poster format, at the Pathological Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland conference in Sheffield and also the International Association of Dental Research in Helsinki.
What I gained from my BMedSci: This is best answered when I consider why I undertook an extra year out of my BDS degree – to gain an insight into research, and if it is a career path I would like to follow in the future. To this end, I definitely gained a lot from my BMedSci year. The year was varied and I was kept busy throughout the year either in the lab, writing up or attending the ethics or statistics courses (which the medical school runs). It is a must year for anyone who has a genuine interest in an academic career. I also gained skills in appraising evidence; useful in the rest of the BDS degree from assignments to clinical application of dental materials.
When did I do my BMedSci: I started my BMedSci in September 10 and completed it in July '11, having taken a year out between my second and third years.
My project: My project looked into the role of a gene called the RE-1 Silencing Transcription Factor (REST) in the progression of Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC). REST has been implicated as a tumour suppressor in an array of epithelial-derived tumours, such as Breast, Lung and Colon; however its role in HNSCC progression is unknown. We looked at RNA levels of REST in a number of different oral cell lines - from Normal Oral Keratinocytes, to Dysplastic cell lines, SCCs and also a metastatic cell line to see if there was any pattern in REST expression and cancer progression. However, no significant pattern was seen. We then artificially raised the expression levels of REST in one cell line and knocked it down in another cell line to study effect on cell behaviour, such as adhesion to fibronectin, migration and proliferation. Ultimately we showed that raising REST levels increased adhesion to fibronectin and reduced cell migration and knocking down REST levels had the opposite effect .
Posters and presentations: I presented the findings of my research in the friday lunchtime speaker slot in May 2011, in a twenty minute talk to academic staff in the faculty. The poster ArRESTing Oral Cancer Development, which I presented at the events outlined in the next section.
Honours and prizes: I won the Junior Colgate Prize at the BSODR in Sheffield, September 2011, for which I won a trip to Brazil to represent the BSODR in the Hatton Prize and present my findings at the IADR in Iguazu Falls, June 2012.
What I gained from my BMedSci: I gained a great idea of how academic life works at the University, along with a really good skills set for any future career in hospital or academic research.
When did I do my BMedSci: I carried out my BmedSci in 2010/11 between 2nd and 3rd years of the BDS degree.
My project: I worked in the oral medicine department on the oral fungus ‘Candida albicans’. I worked to help establish a model of Candida albicans infection in Zebrafish embryos, including real-time in vivo visualisation. In addition to this I looked at the adhesion of Candida
Presentations: Evans, T. (2011, September 14). Using Zebrafish To Study Candida albicans-Mediated Systemic Candidiasis in vivo. Oral Session presented at the BSODR/IADR Congress, Sheffield. Evans, T. (2012, September 13). Investigating O-linked manan-mediated adhesion of Candida albicans to endothelium. Oral Session presented at the PER/IADR Congress, Helsinki.
Honours / prizes
What I gained from my BMedSci: I feel that my problem solving skills improved, and my confidence to tackle problems independently.Two skills that were improved upon were long-form writing as well as the ability to present work with clarity, and these have already proved useful both away from academia, as well as within the BDS degree. I also gained a deeper appreciation for
When did I do my BMedSci: 2011-2012 between my 2nd and 3rd BDS years
My project: I investigated the expression of a potential Tumour Supressor gene in Oral Cancer. Tumour Supressor genes are switched off in cancer and are therefore usually genes which control the cell cycle and tissue growth. This gene could therefore have had the potential to be a target for chemotherapy. My work was purely lab based, using cell cultures and whole tissue biopsy specimens. I performed analysis of protein expression, gene expression and attempted to induce expression of my gene in cancerous cells to see what would happen.
Presentations: I have presented at the all expenses paid BDA/Dentsply Undergraduate Research Conference in Marylebone, London
A paper is currently being written containing some of my work.
Honours or prizes: I have presented at the British Society of Oral and Dental Research Conference in Bath, UK where I won the Junior Colgate Award for best undergraduate research presentation.
I will present my work at the International Association of Dental Research Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in Summer 2014 where I will be competing for the Junior Hatton Award
What I gained from my BMedSci: I gained a thorough appreciation for academic dentistry. It has improved by scientific understanding of oral pathology, oral medicine, oral surgery, cell biology, microbiology and biochemistry. I have learned a massive variety of crucial biological lab skills and not just pipetting! I feel confident in reading and critically analysing research papers. I have a good working understanding of statistics and statistical analysis. I have gained valuable work experience and an award that will hopefully make me stand out from the crowd when applying for jobs. I have gained greater clinical experience by having an extra year treating patients which has helped my clinical confidence and patient management. I have gained experience of what a non-clinical PhD would entail should I decide to do this at a later date.
I got to have TWO GRADUATIONS!!!
Academic and intellectual skills:
Students undertaking the BMedSci are required to attend a taught element to the programme. The taught element consists of:
The Introductory Short Course
The Introductory Short Course runs for 3 days at the start of the BMedSci Programme (21 August 2013) and provides an introduction to conducting a research project, including research ethics and governance and guidance on writing dissertations. Students are issued with the timetable for this course via email/ Minerva
Allie Gartland and Mark Wilkinson run a half-day symposium on research ethics. This will run in September. After this course, students are required to complete an ethics assessment which constitutes 10% of the final degree mark. The Ethics Course Leads will provide separate information on the ethics teaching and assessment.
The Introduction to Statistics Course, organised by Dr Steven Julious in ScHARR, will run over 8 weeks starting on 30th September 2013. It will consist of twice-weekly lectures, tutorials and practical sessions, including guidance on SPSS. A separate timetable for this course will be available on Minerva. During this course, students will be issued with their statistics assignment.
The three elements comprising the summative assessment of the BMedSci are:
In accordance with the guidelines set out in the University’s Students’ Charter, students are reminded that they are advised to undertake no more than 16 hours of external work per week in addition to that required by their programme of study.
BMedSci Programme Lead
Professor Fiona Boissonade
BMedSci Projects for 17/18
Click on the titles below for complete details of each project
|Development of an innervated 3D tissue-engineered oral mucosa model||
Supervisors: Professor FM Boissonade, Dr C Murdoch and Dr HE Colley
Over the last decade our understanding of epithelial and stromal cell interaction has been greatly enhanced by the development of a wide range of 3D tissue-engineered constructs including models of skin and oral mucosa. These 3D tissue-engineered models can be used for a wide variety of purposes such as studies of toxicity, wound healing, tumour biology, and other skin disease. In addition to their uses for in vitro investigations, they are also beginning to deliver benefit in the clinic (usually in small-scale reconstructive surgery procedures). A number of cell types have been incorporated into these systems, thus allowing a closer approximation to the conditions found in human skin and oral mucosa in vivo. These cell types include keratinocytes, dermal fibroblasts and a range of immune cells. However to date there are very few models of skin or oral mucosa that incorporate neuronal cells.
There is now growing evidence that interaction between keratinocytes, fibroblasts and sensory neurones plays a significant role in both skin homeostasis and disease (eg wound healing, eczema and psoriasis). The neuropeptides calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and substance P have an established role in neurogenic inflammation and are thought to influence proliferation and morphogenesis of both keratinocytes and fibroblasts. Is it also well known that skin and oral mucosal cells produce a wide range of neurotrophic factors that have significant influence on neuronal development.
To develop an innervated 3D tissue- engineered oral mucosa model, and study the effects of innervation on skin and mucosal morphology and response to injury.
A variety of cell culture techniques will be used. 3D oral mucosa and trigeminal ganglion neurones will be cultured using techniques developed in our laboratories. Successful co-culture will be determined by immunohistochemical identification of different cell types using methods that are well established in our laboratories.
For further information please contact Professor F Boissonade on firstname.lastname@example.org
|Targeting HOX/PBX interactions in head and neck cancer – potential for therapy?||
Supervisors: Dr KD Hunter and Dr DW Lambert
Hox genes are a family of transcription factors which are involved in a wide range of developmental processes. Expression of many HOX genes are also de-regulated in cancer development and thus represent possible therapeutic targets1. In Dr Hunter’s laboratory, the expression of all 39 Hox genes has been investigated in a number of HNSCC cell lines2. The highest expression at each of the Hox loci was of HOXA4, HOXB9, HOXC9 and HOXD10, all of which are well recognised in the literature in other cancers. However these was marked variability between cell lines, particularly between primary tumour cells and metastases.
Novel small molecule inhibitors, developed in the lab of our collaborator Dr Richard Morgan, target the interaction between Hox proteins and PBX, a second transcription factor that serves as a co-factor for many Hox proteins3. As inhibiting Hox genes may be a possible therapy, we wish to assess the effect of these small molecules on the behaviour of a panel of HNSCC cells with differing Hox gene expression, using a variety of functional assays. This will determine how they influence the phenotype of cancer cells which express HOX genes at differing levels, reflecting the variable expression observed in head and neck tumours, and thereby providing information about the likely effectiveness of this drug in different patients.
Hypothesis: Novel small molecules will inhibit growth of HNSCC cells in a HOX gene-dependent manner
1. Assess the effect of a panel of candidate small molecule inhibitors of HOX-PBX interactions in a dose dependent manner, by:
|Oral Histories of Oral Health and Healthcare||
Supervisor: Professor B Gibson
Traditionally medicine and dentistry have been dominated by the biomedical perspectives were the voice of the patient has been secondary to clinical diagnosis and treatment planning. In this world view it has proven difficult to find ways to enable the patients’ perspective to be heard. Over the last thirty years there has thankfully been an increasing appreciation of the voices of patients in dentistry. This movement has involved the use of oral health related quality of life instruments in measuring the effectiveness of clinical interventions. It is now generally accepted that no clinical trial should take place without some form of assessment of oral health related quality of life. Not only this but the University of Sheffield has been at the forefront of giving patients a voice, we have contributed internationally to the development of new condition specific impact measures and our research on children has given them an increasing voice and role in oral health care.
What we wish to do is to take our work on giving patients a voice further by developing a new initiative to build an archive of oral history interviews. Our reasons for doing this are that patients’ voices can tell us a lot about the history and context of dentistry as it has changed through time. This voice can provide us with important sensitivity to the fact that no matter how much dentistry is innovating and changing over time that the experiences patients have are shaped by social and historical forces. Evidence demonstrates that the cohort experiences different groups of people have about oral health and health care has changed dramatically over time (Sussex et al., 2010). Someone who experienced dentistry in the 1930’s will have had a very different experience and set of expectations to someone who has experienced dentistry in the 1950’s. The tools of dentistry were radically different in just twenty years (Ettinger, 1993). What this means is that patients who come to the dentist have radically different memories and experiences of oral health and health care and to date there are very few studies systematically looking at these different experiences.
The aim of this study is to explore oral histories of oral health and healthcare.
Conducting and analysing oral history interviews with patients over the age of 70 years with a focus on social inequalities. We have all of the equipment and the student(s) who decide to do this will contribute to the development of a new archive of oral history interviews that will be held at the University of Sheffield. These interviews will subsequently be used in Undergraduate and Postgraduate teaching.
For further information please contact Dr B Gibson on email@example.com
|Elucidating the mechanism of extracellular vesicle release in oral cancer||
Supervisor: Dr S Hunt
Oral cancer mortality rates have increased by ~10% in the UK in the last decade. According to Cancer Research UK, there were 7316 new cases of oral cancer diagnosed and 2119 oral cancer related deaths in 2012. Sixty percent of patients present with late stage oral cancer, after the tumour has spread to produce regional metastases, as many early cancers are asymptomatic1. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are increasingly recognised as a source of biomarkers for disease diagnosis and also as novel therapeutic targets. They are nanoscale sized, membrane enclosed vesicles that contain molecular cargo including nucleic acids and proteins. They are produced by all cells of the body and are present in biological fluids including saliva2. Indeed, the saliva of oral cancer patients contains up to 4-fold more EVs than that of healthy volunteers3. Cancer cells produce increased numbers of EVs with altered molecular cargo. These EVs can be taken up by cells that surround the tumour, which converts them to a pro-tumourigenic phenotype. A number of key proteins that are involved in the biogenesis of EVs have already been identified, including the components of the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT)4. Certain members of the ESCRT (Hrs and TSG101) have also been shown to be overexpressed in cancer5. However, nothing is known about the mechanism of EV biogenesis in oral cancer. A better understanding of this process may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets for oral cancer treatment.
Hypothesis: ESCRT proteins are aberrantly expressed in oral cancer cells, leading to increased production and release of extracellular vesicles.
For further information please contact Dr S Hunt on firstname.lastname@example.org
|Why do patients on Nicorandil therapy get non-healing ulcers?||
Supervisors: Dr K Hunter and Dr D Lambert
The treatment of angina pectoris has been revolutionised by the development of a class of potassium channel opening drugs, one of which is Nicorandil1. This drug, loved by cardiologists and their patients, has markedly improved the quality of life of many patients with ischaemic heart disease. However, soon after the widespread prescribing of Nicorandil started, cases of mucosal ulceration started to surface. These ulcers, which can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, are painful and very slow to heal2. A significant number of these patients have oral ulcers.
The reasons for this are not clear. However, we have some preliminary evidence that the formation of granulation tissue is inhibited and that the proliferation of cells in the stroma of these ulcers is reduced. This would suggest some abnormality of fibroblasts or endothelial cells which compose this tissue which is so important in healing. Others have shown that Nicorandil affects the activation of fibroblasts by mediators which may be present in these wounds.
Hypothesis: Nicorandil reduces the activation of fibroblasts (and/or endothelial cells) which will delay the healing process.
Assess the effect of treating oral fibroblasts with nicorandil by activating the cells (using TGF-β1) and then, in the presence and absence of nicorandil measure:
Assess the effect of treating endothelial cells with nicorandil by, in the presence and absence of nicorandil, measuring:
|Biting the hand that feeds you: how periodontal pathogenic bacteria feed on your oral tissues||
Supervisors: Dr G Stafford, Dr J Rafferty
Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease leading to tooth loss that affects over 700 million people worldwide, i.e. approximately 11% of the global population. It is a significant healthcare burden, particularly in the elderly where a link between quality of life in old-age and periodontal disease is well established. One of the bacteria causing periodontal disease- Tannerella forsythia is able to harvest a sugar present on human cell-surfaces and use it as a food source. This sugar is known as sialic acid and is the most common and important glycan component in humans, acting as a label of humanity but also defines the responsiveness of many immune pathways.
The mechanism by which Tannerella accesses this sugar is via action of enzymes that remove (‘bite’) it off of human cell surface proteins before the bacteria uptake the sugar via specific transport mechanisms. In Sheffield we have identified a range of these ‘feeding’ enzymes and in fact one of these, called NanS, is now sold by a biopharmaceutical analysis company due to its unique properties. However, the role of this unique enzyme in bacterial growth, cellular infection or its biochemistry and enzyme structure are not currently known.
For further information please contact Dr G Stafford on email@example.com
|Identification of human cellular targets of a bacterial pathogen Surface protein key to infection: from Omps to antimicrobials||
Supervisors: Dr G Stafford, Dr C Murdoch
Recent work by the Stafford group has revealed the role of a key outer membrane surface proteins in infections by the keystone periodontal pathogen P. gingivalis. An orgamism that causes periondontal disease- a condition affecting 700 million pepols globally. This OmpA2 protein is part of a large family of virulence proteins in human pathogenic bacteria, and a Porphyromonas mutant lacking the OmpA2 gene is unable to form biofilms or infect human cells and furthermore one of its surface exposed protein loops is directly involved in interactions with oral epithelial cells in in vitro infection models. The aim of this project is to identify the OmpA2 human receptor, begin characterisation of its innate immune stimulatory capability and thus begin work aimed at developing these peptides as potential antimicrobials. The project will give broad training in eukaryotic and microbial culture, Immunoprecipitation, chromatography, basic bioinformatics, western blotting, ELISA, bacterial infection assay and immunofluorescence.
1 - Identification of cell surface receptor for OmpA2 surface binding loops
2 - Investigation of innate immune responses to OmpA2
3-Pathogenic cross-talk of OmpA2 binding peptides-
Techniques to be employed:
|An in vitro models of human salivary gland tumours||
Supervisors: Dr L Bingle and Dr A Khurram
Salivary gland tumours are uncommon but histologically heterogeneous and so are often very difficult to diagnose, even for experienced pathologists. They most commonly occur in the major glands but are also relatively frequently found in the minor glands associated with the palate. Very little is known about the pathogenesis of tumour growth and development but associations with the presence of novel fusion proteins and viral infections has been established.
The aim of this project is to establish in vitro models of human salivary gland tumours, as an in vitro model, replicating the complex glandular structure, would provide an extremely useful tool to investigate tumourigenesis and could also have potential as a first screen for the novel biomarkers desperately needed as prognostic/diagnostic tools.
We have already developed 3D models of normal, human salivary glands from excess surgical tissue. We will use information gathered through developing models of normal glands and apply to the growth of tumour models. Tissue from human salivary gland tumours will be used as a starting material to replicate, in vitro, the 3D in vivo structure of a tumour. An aim would be to develop a number of models with different cell phenotypes to reflect the heterogeneity of salivary gland tumours. These will allow us to determine the processes involved in the development of a tumour, particularly the role of fusion proteins and viruses. Functional assays will allow characterisation of the aggressiveness of tumours in relation to cell phenotype, heterogeneity and involvement of fusion proteins.
For further information please contact Dr L Bingle on firstname.lastname@example.org