Targeting Pharmaceuticals and Nanoparticle Gene-Therapy Vectors to Treat Adrenal Pathology

Closing date: 31 December 2020

Project Synopsis:

The many pathologies associated with adrenal gland function together impact four million Australians annually, with treatment costing over $2 billion a year. The current treatment paradigm of systemic, lifelong suppression or replacement of adrenal function has remained largely unchanged in decades, treating symptoms, often with significant side-effects or acute crisis if not managed correctly, yet in many cases offering no possibility of a cure. The extended, and in some cases lifelong, treatment requirements suggests the considerable disease burden, and associated costs will continue to rise as our population demographic ages and chronic morbidities increase in prevalence. Consequently, there is a critical need to redress our approach to treatment of these conditions.

A refined approach to treatment would be to restore endogenous adrenal function by delivering drugs to the adrenal directly, which would minimize premature drug liberation, lighten the metabolic burden of the patient, and in turn enhance the therapeutic efficacy. Whilst this alone would provide significant benefits, a single treatment, lifelong cure, for these pathologies would transform management of adrenal disease however, until now, a mechanism to achieve this has not existed.

We will leverage a number of innovative new technologies to develop an invaluable preclinical scaffold for adrenal targeting nanobiotechnology, transgenic mouse development and avenue for the development of novel treatments for adrenal associated disease. Once validated, we will utilise this system to manipulate steroid biosynthesis pathways in adult adrenocortical cells in vivo to provide a novel disease model of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and validate a novel long-lasting gene therapy approach to cure CAH. This project will demonstrate technology advances to support the rapid production of urgently needed adrenal disease models, while simultaneously developing novel drug and gene therapy approaches for their treatment.

This project encompasses a wide array of techniques to address our aims, including, but limited to, cell culture, transgenic mice, cell specific targeting technology and viral vector and plasmid development. There will also be the opportunity to learn computational biological modelling relating to the results obtained. This project provides the opportunity to learn a wide range of innovative laboratory techniques in a brand new lab.

 PhD Scholarship details

Funding: $28,092 per annum (2020 rate) indexed annually. The living allowance scholarship is for 3.5 years and the tuition fee scholarship is for four years.

Available to: Domestic students 

Eligibility Criteria:

The candidate will join a growing multi-disciplinary team, consisting of experts in the field. Applicants should have a strong work ethic, self-motivation, developed communication, and teamwork skills. We are seeking applications from individuals who have completed first-class or second-class upper honors degree in a Biomedical Science or equivalent degree with laboratory experience.

Supervisor:

Dr Anne-Louise Gannon

 

Application Procedure:

Interested applicants should send an email expressing their interest along with scanned copies of their academic transcripts, CV, a brief statement of their research interests and a proposal that specifically links them to the research project.

 

Please send an email expressing interest to AnneLouise.Gannon@newcastle.edu.au OR Joanna.Kelso@newcastle.edu.au

THE SMITH LAB

Studying the genetics and endocrinology supporting life-long men's health 

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