Based at our Edinburgh Centre(link is external), Professor Steven Pollard and his team are working to better understand brain stem cells and their potential role in ‘glioblastoma’ – a fast-growing type of brain cancer.
Brain stem cells are amazing cells that can change their characteristics to become any kind of specialist cell in the brain. Before a stem cell turns into a specialist cell it multiplies first, to maintain the overall number of stem cells. But this ability to multiply over and over means they can turn into a cancer.
By analysing brain tumour samples, Professor Pollard and his team hope to get a clearer picture of whether key molecules that tell stem cells when to multiply or specialise also play a role in brain tumours developing. Understanding how these molecules work in brain tumours could lead to the discovery of new treatments to halt brain tumours in their tracks.
Tackling brain tumours is a real challenge. Progress against this type of cancer has been slow and new treatments are urgently needed. Improving the outlook for people with brain tumours is a priority for the charity, and Dr Pollard’s research could be a fresh approach to developing new treatment options, helping more people to survive this disease.