Spotting the most aggressive glioblastoma cells

Dr Sandrine Etienne-Manneville
Project period
Jul 2023 - Jun 2026
Research Institute
Institut Pasteur
Cancer types
Brain tumour
Award amount

Project aim

Dr Sandrine Etienne-Manneville and her team are exploring how to spot which glioblastoma cells are most likely to spread. They want to find a way to recognise the most aggressive tumour cells, and hope to reveal ways to stop them from spreading.

Hope for the future

Glioblastoma is a rare type of brain tumour that is particularly fast-growing and currently incurable. Survival rates have not improved much over the last 30 years so new therapeutic approaches are desperately needed.

One of the reasons glioblastomas are so difficult to treat is that the cancer cells are especially ‘invasive’ or good at spreading. Dr Sandrine Etienne-Manneville and her team want to better understand what makes glioblastoma cells so invasive and how to spot the most aggressive cancer cells. She hopes that by finding out more about a specific part of the cells, called the intermediate filaments, she will discover new ways to diagnose and treat glioblastoma.

Meet the scientist

Dr Etienne-Manneville was first interested in understanding the peculiar connection between the brain and immune system. This led her to study how cells move, as this is essential to understanding immune cells and brain diseases.

She is a mother of four fantastic kids who share her interests in nature, outdoor sports, and travel. She often ponders over her research while enjoying a perfect cup of English tea and some dark chocolate.

The science

Intermediate filaments are an important part of our cells that provide structure and strength. The proteins within intermediate filaments have been shown to change at different stages of cancer progression. Dr Etienne-Manneville had the bright idea that intermediate filaments might be helping tumour cells to spread by making them more invasive.

The researchers now plan to develop a new set of tools to investigate cancer cells in the lab. Dr Etienne-Manneville and her team will study 2D and 3D cells to explore the role of intermediate filaments on the functions of cells. State-of-the-art imaging techniques will also help to reveal how intermediate filaments in zebrafish cells are involved in glioblastomas spreading.

Dr Etienne-Manneville hopes to pinpoint anything unique about the intermediate filaments of the most aggressive cancer cells. This discovery could then be used to better diagnose glioblastoma or to identify potential new targets for treating this devastating disease.

Basic research is fundamental as it brings new ideas, tools and concepts which, when brought together with the new ideas and concepts of others, will eventually generate the much-expected major discovery.
Dr Etienne-Manneville

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