Molecular imaging of CXCR4 and the response to CXCR4 therapy in cancer

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About this project

Chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) has been found to be unregulated in a wide range of cancers and to confer poor prognosis. CXCR4 is involved in the regulation of a wide range of tumour processes, from the promotion of tumour growth and survival to the development of metastasis, with a key role in mediating the interaction between tumour cells and stroma. Targeting CXCR4 for therapeutic benefit is an emerging strategy for therapy with a number of agents currently in clinical trial.

Recent research at the University of Hull has validated a novel class of high affinity macrocycle CXCR4 antagonists as PET imaging agents, in addition to being therapeutic drugs. This project seeks to validate these novel CXCR4 imaging probes for use as patient stratification and therapy response biomarkers using preclinical models of oesophageal and breast cancer, and to validate clinically available imaging probes (18F-FDG, 18F-FLT, 18F-FMISO) as pharmacodynamic biomarkers suitable for measuring the response to anti- CXCR4 cancer therapy in combination with chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other molecularly targeted agents.

This multidisciplinary project will be based in the University of Hull PET Research centre, equipped with an ABT cyclotron, extensive radiosynthesis facilities and a Sedecal SuperArgus PET-CT scanner. The supervisory team have extensive experience of nuclear imaging probe development/validation, cancer biology and radiotherapy, and the student will join a growing and vibrant group dedicated to the improvement of cancer via molecular imaging.


Dr Chris Cawthorne, Lecturer in Molecular Imaging, Contact: (0)1482 466678

Prof Steve Archibald, Professor in Molecular Imaging, Contact: (0)1482 465488

Prof John Greenman, Head, School of Life Sciences –

Next steps


Thanks to the generosity of Dr Assem Allam, we are able to offer one full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarship for candidates applying to this project.

Full-time UK/EU PhD Scholarships will include fees at the ‘home/EU' student rate and maintenance (£14,121 in 2016/17) for three years, depending on satisfactory progress.

Entry requirements

To be considered, applicants should have a First/Upper Second class degree in Pharmacology/Pharmacy/Biological Science is required, ideally with some experience of cancer biology. Studentships will start September 2017.


Find out more about our research in Biomedical Science.

How to apply

Application deadline: 17 March 2017

Research options:

PhD: 4 years (full-time)

The Postgraduate Training Scheme

PhD students at the University of Hull follow modules for research and transferable skills development and gain a Masters level Certificate, or Diploma, in Research Training, in addition to their research degree.