Our research is geared to understanding cancer, its aberrant behaviour and control, and to translate our discoveries for the benefit of cancer patients. We also study the pre-malignant state, so as to understand risk and how to prevent and treat cancer.

The Edinburgh CRUK Centre integrates the latest technologies and multi-disciplinary approaches, addressing fundamental questions and big challenges in cancer research.

We aim to provide an inspiring training environment for scientists and clinicians.

News & Events

Cancer Centre Scientist admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Congratulations to Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta who has been recently admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the advancement of the chemical sciences. This award is a great testimony to the quality and impact of work performed by Asier's "Innovative Therapeutics" Lab at the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre at the University of Edinburgh. Recent highlights from his lab include rapid development of Src inhibitor with unique properties and pioneering bioorthogonally activated prodrug approaches to improve the efficacy and safety of cancer treatments.

Dr David Mellis - 2016 Bone Research Society Meeting Award

Congratulations to Dr David Mellis who won both the best oral poster and oral presentation at the 2016 Bone Research Society Meeting.


Best Oral poster pitch - David Mellis, Ubr5 suppresses heterotopic ossification

Best Poster - David Mellis, Ubr5 suppresses heterotopic ossification

Best Oral Presentation - Mark Ditzel, Ubr5 is a potent regulator of articular cartilage homeostasis


Meeting info:



ECRC scientists develop new Src inhibitor with unique properties

Congratulations to members of the Edinburgh Cancer Discovery Unit (ECDU) at the ECRC whose paper entitled “Rapid Discovery and Structure-Activity Relationships of Pyrazolopyrimidines That Potently Suppress Breast Cancer Cell Growth via SRC Kinase Inhibition with Exceptional Selectivity over ABL Kinase” has been recently published in the “Journal of Medicinal Chemistry” - a leading journal in the field of medicinal chemistry published by the American Chemical Society. The paper describes the development of a highly potent and orally bioavailable inhibitor of the non-receptor tyrosine kinase Src called, eCF506 (UK Patent Application GB1508747.1 submitted). In contrast to other Src inhibitors, eCF506 displays high selectivity towards Src tyrosine kinase without inhibiting many other kinases present in the cells. This is an important discovery because Src involvement in tumour progression and metastasis is well documented (Src was the first oncogene ever discovered in the human genome and its mutant constitutively-active form is transmitted by some oncogenic viruses). All other currently available Src-inhibitors (many of which are in clinical trials) do also inhibit other kinases, in particular Abl, which might result in lower anti-cancer activity in some tumour types and undesired side effects.

According to Dr Asier Unciti-Broceta; “eCF506 is the first drug candidate of a second generation of Src inhibitors that will not only help to understand the complexity of some cancers but also the development of safer combination therapies”. Another key feature of the article is the novel strategy used to discover eCF506, which represents a more rapid and cost effective approach compared with traditional drug discovery methods."

Professor Neil Carragher from the ECRC centre says; “The short time frame and reduced costs required to discover a potential drug candidate of the quality of eCF506 is unprecedented”. Implementation of new drug discovery approaches such as those being pioneered within the ECDU may contribute to increased efficiency of drug discovery, providing more effective medicines at reduced cost for patients and healthcare authorities such as the NHS”.

Obviously more investigations are required to further validate the inhibitor and to assess the potential clinical utility of eCF506, but the published research is a great testimony to quality and efficiency of work performed by the ECDU and represents the first drug discovery program developed in full (from initial idea and drug design to synthesis and biological evaluation) in the Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre. We are confident that the ECDU and its directors (Asier Unciti-Broceta, Neil Carragher, Val Brunton and Margaret Frame ) will make every possible effort to maximise the utility and future impact of the exciting discoveries described in the paper.

Paper: Fraser C, Dawson JC, Dowling R, Houston DR, Weiss JT, Munro AF, Muir M, Harrington L, Webster SP, Frame MC, Brunton VG, Patton EE, Carragher NO, Unciti-Broceta A. Rapid Discovery and Structure-Activity Relationships of Pyrazolopyrimidines That Potently Suppress Breast Cancer Cell Growth via SRC Kinase Inhibition with Exceptional Selectivity over ABL Kinase. J Med Chem. 2016 May 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Link: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b00065

University of Edinburgh news: http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/2016/breast-cancer-drug-hope

Ovarian cancer research centre seeks to develop better treatments

Women with ovarian cancer will benefit from a new research centre aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment of the disease.

The Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research will seek to advance understanding of the different types of the disease so that patients can be offered the most effective treatment for their specific condition.

The unit is being established at the University of Edinburgh with generous support from the family and friends of Ms Murray, who died from the condition in 2010 at the age of 34.

Scientists, led by Prof Charlie Gourley, will investigate the biological differences between types of ovarian cancer and how they affect patients’ response to treatments. Some forms of ovarian cancer – such as the one Ms Murray had – are particularly aggressive and hard to treat. The team will focus on understanding how these types of tumours grow and why some forms of the disease respond better than others to medication. Researchers hope this will help develop new treatments that can tackle even the most resistant forms.

Ms Murray, a speech and language therapist from Dunfermline, died less than four months after her diagnosis. She had a rare and aggressive form of the disease – known as HNPCC-associated ovarian cancer – which is caused by a fault in one of the genes that normally suppresses tumour growth.

The Nicola Murray Foundation was set up in her memory as a means to perpetuate the care and concern that she showed to others in her life. Over the past six years, it has raised more than £200,000 to fund research into ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise as they are often the same as those of other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). However, three main symptoms are more frequent in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer:  abdominal swelling or bloating; pelvic or abdominal pain and feeling full quickly.

“We are extremely grateful to Nicola’s family and friends for supporting our research so enthusiastically and for allowing us to set up our Ovarian Cancer Research Centre in her name. We believe that this centre will help us develop new strategies to more effectively target the specific abnormalities in each patient’s cancer and thereby improve the outcome for patients with this terrible disease.”

Professor Charlie Gourley, Director of the Nicola Murray Centre for Ovarian Cancer Research at the University of Edinburgh

“When Nicola learned that the treatment pathways for her ovarian cancer were under-researched, she began planning ways for her family and friends to fundraise for better research. She was determined that no other young women should go through what was happening to her and knew that new research into treatments would bring hope and light to other young women on their ovarian cancer journey. She could never have imagined that there would be a charity – let alone a research centre – in her name, but she’d be so honoured, as we all feel.”

Caroline Turnbull, Nicola’s sister and co-founder of the Nicola Murray Foundation










Centre Directors

  • mf

    Prof Margaret Frame

    Science Director

  • david2Prof David Cameron

    Clinical Director

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