PhD Funding

Humanimal Trust currently funds two PhD studies focusing on how taking a One Medicine approach to research can drive medical progress in both human and veterinary medicine:

 

Oncolytic Viro-therapy as a Cancer Treatment - University of Surrey

This is a study being undertaken by Nicola Pratt looking at using a virus/viruses to specifically attack cancerous cells rather than chemotherapy to reduce the serious side effects of treatment:

The Development and Application of Oncolytic Virus therapy for Treatment of Canine Malignant Tumours

Oncolytic viruses are viruses that preferentially infect and kills cancer cells. For several decades oncolytic virus therapy has been investigated as a new cancer therapy, resulting in a number of viruses including reovirus being approved for the treatment of cancer in humans. Oncolytic virus therapy has great potential for the treatment of companion animal cancer. However, susceptibility to reovirus varies among cancer types and establishing why (the genetic determinants of tumour cell susceptibility) is crucial to the success of treatment.

The aim of this study is to establish a biomarker associated with susceptibility to reovirus in canine cancers, thereby allowing personalised chemotherapy-sparing oncolytic therapy to treat canine cancer. Understanding susceptibility of different cancers will also help inform human medicine - a One Medicine approach.

 

Bacteriophages as an Alternative to Antibiotics - University of Surrey

Lucy Rhys Davies is developing novel treatments for infections by using viruses that infect bacteria (bacteriophages) to treat bacterial infections, rather than antibiotics:

Understanding Antibiotic Use in Small Animal Medicine & Developing Alternatives 

This is a multidisciplinary project focusing on the issue of antibiotic resistance in companion animal medicine and the subsequent need for alternatives to antibiotics. The project consists of two parts, designed to combine practical microbiology and health psychology.

The practical part of the project aims to test the viability of bacteriophage therapy as an alternative to antibiotics. Bacteriophages (phages) are small viruses which can infect and kill the bacteria that cause infections. In this project phages are being tested against strains of E. coli which have caused infections in canine patients, to determine how successful the phages are at killing the bacteria. As well as testing practical applications of phages, this research will involve studying the genetic backgrounds of the phages in order to understand the mechanisms that enable them to kill bacteria, and to assess their safety as alternative antimicrobials.

The aim of the second section of the project is to determine the likelihood of an alternative antimicrobial, such as phage therapy, being accepted into small animal medicine, and to investigate how it can be ensured that these are used appropriately by pinpointing current issues contributing to inappropriate or excessive antibiotic use. This is being researched through surveys and interviews with small animal vets and pet owners in the UK.

For the latest update on this project, please click here.