Research projects

Trojan Horses

Elucidating the potential interaction of manufactured nanoparticles with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons: An integrated toxicogenomics approach.

This project is funded by the National Environmental Research Council (NERC).

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The overall objective of the TREE project is to reduce uncertainty in estimating the risk to humans and wildlife associated with exposure to radioactivity and to reduce unnecessary conservatism in risk calculations.

TRansfer - Exposure – Effects (TREE): Integrating the science needed to underpin radioactivity assessments for humans and wildlife.

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An integrated approach to develop and undertake pre-validation of molecular and genetic biomarkers in therapeutic management of cancer

The project aims to explore the following hypotheses: 

  • Induction of DNA and cellular damage following exposure to specific therapeutic agents is dependent on the genetic make-up of the cells.
  • DNA and membrane damage are correlated with cell death following exposure to therapeutic agents and they may both serve as an indicator of treatment outcome.
  • Expression of DNA repair genes is correlated with exposure and treatment strategies.
  • Phosphorylation of H2AX is an important marker in genotypically diverse cells.
  • Multiple mutations in critical genes could influence the treatment strategy and therefore improve the survival of the patients.

Funding: Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust; Plymouth and Cornwall Cancer Fund; Plymouth University.

Relative sensitivity of ovarian cancer cells (OVCAR 4,5 and IGROV1) following treatment with auranofin, an anti-rheumatic drug

Applications of 3D spheroid cultures in fish ecotoxicology

The project aims to focus on the development of ‘3 dimensional’ (spheroid) cultures, in particular cells of ‘gut’ origin in fish. The main objectives of this interdisciplinary project are:

  • Establish methodologies for establishment of spheroid culture from established cell lines or primary cells of the gut origin.
  • Elucidate bioaccumulation, cellular and molecular responses following exposures to environmentally relevant contaminants.
  • Adopt a range of biochemical, molecular and cellular approaches to determine the biological responses following exposure to contaminants with different modes and mechanisms of actions.

Funding: AstraZeneca and Plymouth University (PhD Studentship).

Spheroids from fish gut cell

Can engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) induce potential neurological health effects: an in vitro study adopting molecular approaches

The primary objectives of this interdisciplinary project are to test the following hypotheses: 

  • ENPs interact differentially with cells of neuronal origin to induce molecular responses. 
  • ENPs influence the proliferation, differentiation and myelination of cells from peripheral nervous system. 
  • The measured biological responses in different cell types could be translated to hazard and risk evaluation for potential neurological problems. 

The proposal aims to address these critical issues to elucidate the mechanisms of uptake, cell specific bioaccumulation, cellular growth, and biological properties (e.g. myelination) and toxicity of combinations of simple and structurally modified ENPs in a range of cells under in vitro conditions.

Funding: Plymouth University (Faculty of Science and Engineering and Peninsular School of Medicine and Dentistry Interdisciplinary studentship).

Detection of genetic damage following exposure to copper in undifferentiated and differentiated neuronal cells using immunocytochemistry techniques

Developing an integrated strategy for the assessment of hazardous substances in Kuwait’s marine environment

The project aims to investigate:

  • The chemical contaminant sources in Kuwait Bay.
  • Study the impact diffuse and point discharges of pollutants on a range of resident marine species.
  • Initiated a baseline survey to screen for antimicrobial resistance potential in Kuwait’s marine ecosystem.
  • Provide recommendations for integrated health assessment of Kuwait Bay outlining the future monitoring and remediation requirements.

Funding: Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences (Cefas) UK; Kuwait Environment Public Authority, Kuwait; Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences, Kuwait.

Screening water samples from Kuwait for determining antimicrobial resistance

Analytical, toxicogenomics and modelling approaches to determine the impacts of radionuclides and metals

This project aims to probe the following hypotheses:

  • There is a threshold dose and dose rate for chronic ß- and y-emissions above which effects occur in target species (e.g. marine mussels) at different levels of biological organisation (i.e. molecular to individual level).
  • Stable elements induce similar effects and, in combination, modify the impact of the ionising radiation.
  • Body burdens and tissue-specific accumulation of radionuclides and metals are linked with observed biological effects in tissue specific manner.
  • Molecular and tissue level effects will help to identify the most sensitive target organ to improve environmental monitoring.
  • Mathematical modelling can be used as a predictive tool for the improved environmental management and for “clean-up” programmes.

Funding: Plymouth University (Faculty of Science and Engineering Studentship).

Determining DNA damage using comet assay in mussels

Laser Light Interaction and their influence on DNA and cell under in vitro conditions

The project aims to probe the effect of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on cellular proliferation, cell survival and DNA damage (repair) under in vitro conditions. The project also aims to elucidate impact of different confounding factors (e.g. power, polarized and unpolarised light, coherent and non-coherent (LED) light, magneto-optical phenomenon etc.) on the above parameters to improve laser-based therapy.

Funding: Republic of Iraq (PhD Studentship).

Cells being exposed to lasers