Dr Sarah Walmsley

How immune cells can help or hinder brain tumours

The immune system helps the body fight disease. But cancer can actually coerce certain immune cells into helping the disease progress. One type of cell which can both help and hinder cancer are neutrophils, a kind of white blood cell. At the University of Edinburgh, Dr Sarah Walmsley is studying how these cells can act in a type of brain tumour called glioblastoma.

Gliblastoma tumours often have areas that have become starved of oxygen. Neutrophils can detect this and it can trigger changes in their function and survival. Dr Walmsley’s previous work in this area has prompted her to study the neutrophil responses in more detail.

In particular, Dr Walmsley is interested in whether oxygen levels cause changes in how neutrophils make and use energy, and whether this has an impact on how the disease progresses. To find this out, she’ll study brain cells from patients with glioblastoma, and compare them to those from people without the disease.

Ultimately, this important work could help scientists discover potential targets to home in on with new treatments, which we urgently need. 


Brain (and spinal cord) tumours
Cancer biology

The Queen's Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh

Email: sarah.walmsley@ed.ac.uk