Development of novel drug strategies for the prevention of in-stent restenosis.

Investigation of the therapeutic potential of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for the prevention of restenosis in cultured human vascular smooth muscle and endothelial cells.

Department: Chemistry, Chemistry, Food BioSciences and Pharmacy

Supervised by: Katrina Bicknell

The Placement Project

Coronary artery disease affects an estimated 3.4 million adults in the UK. Caused by a narrowing of the coronary arteries by atherosclerotic plaques, CAD leads to the debilitating symptoms of angina, heart attacks and death. Although a serious condition, this narrowing of the blood vessels can often be reversed through the insertion of a coronary stent that holds the treated vessel open, restoring oxygen supply to the heart and relieving associated symptoms. Unfortunately, even with best treatment (drug-eluting stents), 5-10% of patients still experience re-occlusion of the treated vessel (in-stent restenosis). Re-occlusion occurs due to proliferation and migration of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) and failure of endothelial cells (ECs) to proliferate and heal the damaged vessel. Novel drug eluting stents that promote endothelial repair whilst preventing detrimental VSMC proliferation and migration are required. We have previously shown that certain non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) show great promise for the prevention of in-stent restenosis as they prevent the proliferation and migration of rodent VSMCs whilst having a lesser effect on rodent ECs and no effect on EC migration. This placement will investigate whether these drugs will have similar effects on cells from human coronary arteries, the cells responsible for stent failure in the clinical setting. The results of this placement will contribute to our research aimed at establishing the therapeutic potential of selected NSAIDs to reduce coronary stent failure rates in human blood vessels.


This placement will be predominantly laboratory based and will involve the student becoming proficient in a variety of cell biology and microscopy techniques, including routine cell culture, live cell imaging and proliferation, cell migration and cytotoxicity assays. The student also will be expected to analyse the data generated and present it at supervisors’ group meetings and Pharmacy’s UROP student presentation day as well as in written format for inclusion in a future publication. It is estimated that the approximate breakdown of the tasks undertaken by the student will be; 60% Laboratory work, 20% data analysis, 20% report writing, presentation and supervisory meetings.

Skills, knowledge and experience required

All training in the specific research techniques required for this placement will be provided, however, basic laboratory skills, as developed by students undertaking an undergraduate science degree (e.g. pharmacy, chemistry, food science and/or biomedical sciences), such as handling and weighing chemicals; working within health and safety and good laboratory practice framework; aseptic technique; and, use of micropipettes. Knowledge of basic cardiovascular biology and/or cell biology would be desirable, however, this knowledge may be gained from study of texts and literature in these areas.

Skills which will be developed during the placement

This placement will allow the student to develop proficiency in a variety of laboratory techniques, including routine cell culture, live cell microscopic imaging and proliferation, cell migration and cytotoxicity assays, as well as data analysis, critical thinking and presentation skills, both oral and written. Through regular supervisory meetings and working closely with other group members and students, the student will be encouraged to take an active role in the project and its experimental design, developing problem solving skills as well as time management skills required for short term project management. These skills would be advantageous for students planning to undertake a laboratory-based dissertation in Life Sciences or students from other disciplines wishing to extend their research experience. It is expected that the data generated during this placement will be included in a future publication, leading to third authorship for the student.

Place of Work

Hopkins Building, Whiteknights campus

Hours of Work


Approximate Start and End Dates (not fixed)

Unknown - Unknown

How to Apply

Students should apply by sending their CV and a cover letter to Dr Katrina Bicknell (

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