Dr Florian Siebzehnrubl
Research Fellow, European Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute, School of Biosciences
Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal brain cancer in the adult population, and the recurrence of these cancers post treatment is a particular problem contributing to patient demise. Glioblastomas exhibit a high degree of heterogeneity, both between individual tumours and within the same tumour. This heterogeneity is observable on several levels, ranging from genetic mutations to cellular and histopathological variations. I am broadly interested in the contributions of cellular subpopulations to tumour heterogeneity, progression and recurrence, and how certain transcription factors regulate these processes.
Brain cancers, especially glioblastoma, continue to carry an exceedingly poor prognosis despite several decades of research directed at improving our understanding and management of the disease. The cancer stem cell hypothesis has shifted the scientific focus towards the study of specific tumour cell types, but the functions of individual tumour cell subpopulations are poorly understood. However, it is becoming clear that some cancer cells are more capable of inducing tumour growth, and are also more resistant to conventional therapies.
My research focuses on regulatory mechanisms that govern essential processes of malignancy in glioblastoma cancer stem cells (GSCs), such as tissue invasion, therapy resistance and the initiation of tumour growth. The transcription factor ZEB1 (zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1) is able to regulate all of these processes in GSCs (Siebzehnrubl et al. 2013) through an intricate pattern of regulatory steps involving microRNAs and downstream transcription factors and effector genes. I am currently engaged in identifying upstream regulators of ZEB1 expression, as well as tracking additional functions of ZEB1 in GSCs and the tumour microenvironment.
Postgraduate Research Students
- Mr Benjamin Dummer (MRes student)
- Miss Ana Jimenez Pascual