Deciphering the roles of SLPI and IL-17 in inflammatory responses in malignant pleural mesothelioma



Funded PhD Opportunity

Deciphering the roles of SLPI and IL-17 in inflammatory responses in malignant pleural mesothelioma

Project Description

Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) is a devastating cancer that develops in the pleural cavity. With the average patient survival standing at 9-12 months from diagnosis and the 5-year survival rates is less than 5%, the UK has one of the highest MPM death rates in the world. The main choice of treatment is chemotherapy, which only increases patient survival by several months. Radiotherapy has minimal success due to the diffuse nature of the disease. Due to low patient survival rates, high death rates and the fact that virtually all patients progress toward terminal disease, more research is required in the search for better treatments in this area of pulmonary disease.

Our research will study secretory leukocyte proteinase inhibitor (SLPI) and its involvement in tumour blood vessel development and how it may regulate interleukin-17 (IL-17). We will examine how tumour blood vessels develop and immune cells function, specifically T-cells, in MPM. CD4+ T-helper 17 (Th17) cells produce IL-17 and both SLPI and IL-17 are reported to be elevated in the pleural fluid from mesothelioma patients. IL-17 is involved in the development of new tumour blood vessels which provide nurturement for the growing tumour and allow it to divide and spread to other parts of the body. The presence of these proteins and increased numbers of Th17 and regulatory T-cells (Tregs) suggest a poorer patient prognosis. The methods we hope to employ will require the use of relevant mouse models that will imitate MPM observed in patients. These models will help us to identify the critical stages in MPM, what role these proteins play and the study of cell immune responses to a developing MPM tumour. 


Dr D Small

Prof C Scott


Candidates should have or expect to obtain a 2:1 or higher Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant biomedical or life sciences subject.

English Language

Candidates applying from countries where the first language is not English should produce evidence of their competence through a qualification such as IELTS or TOEFL score.

The minimum recommended score for the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Science is:
• IELTS score of 6.0 with not less than 5.5 in each of the four component elements of listening, reading, speaking and writing taken within the last 2 years;
• TOEFL score of 80+ (internet basted test), taken within the last 2 years, with minimum component scores of; Listening 17, Reading 18, Speaking 20, Writing 17);
• A valid Certificate of Proficiency in English grade A or B;
• A valid Certificate of Advanced English grade A; or
• A first or upper second class honours degree from a university based in the UK, Republic of Ireland or other suitably quality assured location in a country deemed by the UK Border Agency to be majority English speaking.

For a list of English Language qualifications also accepted by the School and University please see the following link:

The English Language Unit (ELU) offers both pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for academic purposes and study skills. Courses vary in length and full information can be obtained from the ELU


Closing Date

Sunday, January 20, 2019


Funding Notes

*FUNDING CONFIRMED – Department for the Economy (DfE)*

Eligibility for both fees (£4260 for 2018/19, 2019/20 TBC) and maintenance (£14,777 for 2018/19, 2019/20 TBC) depends on the applicants being either an ordinary UK resident or those EU residents who have lived permanently in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding the start of the studentship.

Non UK residents who hold EU residency may also apply but if successful may receive fees only.

For further details re eligibility criteria (including academic, citizenship and residency criteria) please click on the following link: View Website

How to Apply

Please refer to 'Entry Requirements' for specific admissions criteria.

Apply online via the Queen's on-line application portal .  Guidance is available on the University’s Prospective Student pages.

When applying for a project, please choose ‘MEDICINE’ as your subject area/School.

Please ensure you adhere to the closing dates.

If you have any further queries please contact:  or +44 (0) 28 9097 2619/2042.

Please visit the School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences,  Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology, website for further details about the Centre.





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