Host institution: Cardiff University, Cardiff, United Kingdom
Host department: Tissue Microenvironment Group, Division of Cancer & Genetics, School of Medicine
Supervisors: Prof. dr. Aled Clayton and Dr. Jason Webber

Project description
Cancer cells produce very small vesicles, which are released into the extracellular space. Such “extracellular vesicles” are highly complex in their molecular make-up, in their diversity of sizes and shapes, and potentially therefore exhibit different functional properties.

Our central hypothesis is that prostate cancer cells produce functionally distinct vesicle sub-populations, and by manipulating certain regulator proteins within the cells, the vesicle-populations can be altered; boosting or inhibiting particular vesicle sub-types. We postulate that by controlling vesicle production in this manner, we will be able to drastically impair cancer growth, angiogenesis, immunological evasion and eventual metastatic spread.

The study therefore will genetically manipulate prostate cancer cells, to target candidate vesicle regulating proteins. We aim to characterise in unprecedented detail the consequence of these manipulations on the biophysical diversity and also molecular content of vesicles being produced, and assign specific biogenetic pathways to particular vesicle types. Functional assays will be undertaken to better understand the relationships between vesicle sub-types and cancer-supporting functions, and a range of model systems are available for this.

The study will shed new light onto the complexities of vesicle production, and the endogenous mechanisms for their manufacture and secretion. The study will identify the vesicle subsets that are of greatest importance in terms of disease escalation, and provide novel options for their therapeutic manipulation. Molecular analysis of these “most dangerous” vesicles, will also provide a basis for a bio-specimen assay, and a means for identifying the presence of an aggressive disease signature in prostate cancer patients.

Prof. dr. Aled Clayton:

School of Medicine Post Grad Research:

Contact details
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Prof. dr. Aled Clayton: