Professor Margaret Frame

Tackling a hard to treat brain tumour

Professor Margaret Frame is the Director of the Institute of Genetics and Cancer at the University of Edinburgh. Here, her research group is working on one of the most challenging tumours to treat: glioblastoma, a fast-growing type of brain tumour.

Professor Frame has spent years working on a specialised molecular network that’s responsible for controlling how cells stick to one another, move and spread. She’s found that a key molecule in this so-called ‘adhesion network’, called FAK, can affect the environment around tumours and help the cancer cells escape attack by the immune system. Now, working with Professor Valerie Brunton, she’s extending this research into glioblastoma to find out how these same networks are involved in this complex disease.

A major part of this exciting new project will involve studying stem cells. Normally these help keep the brain healthy and functional throughout life. But in brain tumours – and cancers more broadly – stem cells fuel the disease and render treatments ineffective. Professor Frame wants to compare normal stem cells in the brain and those found in glioblastoma tumours, looking for differences in their adhesion networks and how these may play a role in the disease. She also wants to find out how these glioblastoma stem cells interact with immune cells and influence their surroundings.

Through this work, Professor Frame hopes to not only understand more about these complex molecular networks, but also reveal new targets that drugs could be designed against in the future. As a disease that’s seen little improvement in survival, we urgently need research like this to find new ways to tackle this hard to treat tumour.

You can read more about Professor Frame’s research here.

Brain (and spinal cord) tumours
Cancer biology

Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, Edinburgh