Understanding the role of the pre-neoplastic niche in liver cancer formation
Supervisor: Dr Luke Boulter
Bile duct cancer (cholangiocarcinoma) is an aggressive liver cancer with few treatment options and limited survival following diagnosis. Patients with underlying liver disease have a significantly higher chance of developing bile duct cancer and we hypothesise that the regenerative microenvironment, which forms during the disease process to try to repair the tissue, contributes to the formation of small neoplasms which progress to form cancer. Our lab wants to understand what happens to this microenvironment during the transition from repair into cancer. Using a combination of single cell RNA sequencing and advanced 3D imaging, the PhD candidate will investigate how the regenerative microenvironment changes between the pre-neoplastic and neoplastic state. They will then modulate this microenvironment using complex in vitro cell models and in vivo models to understand better whether altering the pre-neoplastic microenvironment can affect the rate at which preneoplastic lesions occur. This project will provide the PhD candidate with training in single cell RNAseq data analysis, advanced confocal imaging and animal modelling of cancer.