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Student research project

Supervisor(s): Dr Xiaowei Wang, Professor Karlheinz Peter and Dr Laura Bienvenu

This project is focused on the development of novel targeted drugs that are directed against activated platelets.

Project summary

Research in the Molecular Imaging and Theranostics lab is focused on translational research that links the findings from basic science to the practical applications that enhance human health and well-being in the clinical settings. Targeted drug delivery allows imaging of thrombus as they form as well as effective thrombolysis and has the potential to act as a fibrinolytic agent without bleeding complications..

Acute thrombosis causes vessel occlusion resulting in ischemic complications, such as myocardial infarction and stroke, and is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. Fast and effective removal/breakdown of thrombosis is crucial to reduce injury and improve recovery. Fibrinolysis  is  a  valuable  alternative  for  the  treatment  of  myocardial  infarction  when invasive/surgical procedure  is  not  available in a timely fashion.  For  acute  ischemic  stroke, fibrinolysis  is  the  only  treatment  option  with  a  very  narrow  therapeutic  window. However, clinically approved thrombolytics have significant drawbacks, including bleeding complications due to the high systemic concentration required. Thus their use is highly restricted leaving many patients untreated.

This project would focus on the development of novel targeted fibrinolytic drug that is directed against activated platelets. The use of small recombinant antibodies for diagnostic molecular imaging and targeted drug delivery is well established in our lab.

When thrombosis occurs, platelets are activated and aggregate together to form a thrombus. Our targeted fibrinolytic drug will locate these activated platelets and accumulate at the site of the clot where they will act to break the clot down. This allows a high potency of drugs for efficient and safe thrombolytic treatment. Due to the targeting properties, we can reduce the concentration of drugs need which would also enable us to eliminate the current bleeding complications associated with the clinically used fibrinolytic drugs.

Significance: This project will develop and test a novel fibrinolytic agent with the capability to overcome  the  current  limitations  in  thrombolytic  therapy  associated  with  the  risk  of  bleeding complications.  It  has  the  potential  to  break  the  fatal  link  between  increased  fibrinolytic  potency  and bleeding complications..

Related methods, skills or technologies

This project is suitable for a MastersHonours or PhD student and will involve the application of advanced ultrasound imaging, cell biology, Western blots, flowcytometry, statistics, bio- and molecular biology including PCR and recombinant antibody design, production, and purification.

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