Claudia Barros Lab – Neural Stem Cell Research and Brain Tumour Research

Our bodies are constantly regenerating ourselves and it is stem cells that allow us to do this. Within the brain, new nerve cells arising from Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) allow the brain to modify its nerve connections to adapt throughout life, as well as recover from injury. NSCs can also develop changes that lead to neoplastic transformation and brain tumours.

Projects in our team focus on understanding:

  • What are the key mechanisms leading to transformation of normal NSCs and their progeny into brain tumour initiating cells and tumour growth?
  • How do NSCs transit from a quiescent to a mitotically active state?
  • How is the identity of different NSCs established?
  • What are the key mechanisms responsible for the transformation of normal NSC lineage cells into brain tumour-initiation cells?

Our laboratory is also part of the Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth.

We study NSCs and brain tumour development using a variety of in vivo and in vitro models, including the highly genetically tractable Drosophila (fruit fly) brain allowing for analysis in a live nervous system, immortalised and patient-derived brain tumour cell lines and human brain tissue samples.


Neural Stem Cells (green) in the Drosophila (fruit fly) brain

Claudia Barros is a principal investigator at the Peninsula Medical School. She has a long standing research interest in Neural Stem Cells (NSCs) in both health and disease. One major current focus of the Barros team is how brain tumours form and develop. Specifically, the molecular mechanisms enabling the transformation of normal NSCs and progeny into brain tumour initiation cells, also called cancer stem cells.

Brain cancer stem cells can form whole tumour masses, and are likely also responsible for tumour recurrence as they resist current conventional cancer treatments. The Barros group is screening and characterising novel molecules regulating cancer stem cells and directing tumour development in the brain. They make use of a Drosophila (fruit fly) model in which cancer stem cells can be visualised and studied in live brains, and translate findings into human cell cultures and brain tumour tissues. Their studies are expected to identify novel and suitable targets against cancer stem cells, contributing to the development of better future brain cancer therapies.

The Barros group is part of the Brain Tumour Research Centre of Excellence at the University of Plymouth. Their research studies are currently sponsored by the Brain Tumour Research charity, Brain Research UK and the University of Plymouth.

Claudia Barros staff profile and laboratory team webpages:

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