Grants awarded

Investigating molecular dynamics in quiescent stem cells


Dr Elli Marinopoulou

University of Manchester

United Kingdom

The brain is the most complex of our organs consisting of billions of brain cells that need to send messages to our body to tell it what to do. In neurological diseases or brain injuries some of the brain cells are damaged and the communication is partially lost, leading to potentially serious defects. The brain has the ability to replace the damaged cells by generating more from healthy ones. However this ability is limited, because these healthy regenerative cells are rare, mainly inactive and only a few multiply to repair the damage.

I will study how these brain cells decide to either remain inactive or increase in numbers. An answer to this question will help us to direct the decisions of these cells to either silence them permanently or make them generate more when needed. Similar but harmful regenerative cells are found in brain tumours. Because they are inactive they escape standard cancer treatments and, for reasons unknown, they can start to multiply again and establish new tumours. I hope to apply my findings to permanently retain these cells in an inactive state.

These findings could help prevent cancer progression and relapse.