College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

£2.4m boost for brain tumour research

Scientists at Edinburgh are to receive £2.4 million to find new ways to tackle brain tumours.

brain scan
credit DedMityay via Getty Images

The funding from leading charity Cancer Research UK will help researchers to understand more about how to target tumours with drugs.

Teams at the University’s Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre will focus on the most common type of brain tumour, called glioblastoma.

Brain tumours are one of the hardest types of cancer to treat, and survival has barely improved over the last 40 years.

Stem cells

Researchers will use new types of cancer stem cell samples, developed by taking cells from patients’ tumours during surgery and then growing them in the laboratory.

A stem cell is a kind of ‘starter cell’ that has the potential to grow indefinitely or develop into many different cell types in the body.

When a stem cell multiplies, the resulting cells either remain as stem cells or, under the right conditions, can become a type of cell with a more specialised function, such as a brain cell.

Cancer stem cells arise following genetic alterations and begin to form tumours that often go on to infiltrate the surrounding brain tissue.

One-in-two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. Cancer Research UK is funding some of the most promising research in Scotland to help more people survive.

Victoria StevenCancer Research UK

Tumour formation

Edinburgh researchers will use these new stem cell models to study how a specialised group of molecules – called adhesion proteins – contribute to the formation of tumours.

Ultimately their goal is to discover how best to use existing and new drugs, and drug combinations, to treat the disease.

We have a wonderful team here in Edinburgh, and we’re really excited to be pursuing new approaches to treating brain tumours.

Professor Margaret FrameCancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre