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

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









Edinburgh scientists to get £3.7M CRUK funding for cutting edge cancer research

Edinburgh scientists are set to receive a major cash boost from Cancer Research UK which could help to develop groundbreaking new brain tumour treatments.

Experts from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre*, based at The University of Edinburgh, will receive £3.7 million over the next five years. Edinburgh is one of just four leading research centres to secure a significant cash injection for its cutting-edge research into tackling brain tumours.

This is part of a £16 million UK-wide initiative – Cancer Research UK’s Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards** – to help speed up progress being made in the fight against cancers which are difficult to treat.

The funding will support scientists who will take samples from patients’ tumours during surgery and then grow these brain tumour cells in the lab to study the faulty molecules that underpin the disease. This will help them discover better ways to treat and diagnose brain tumours, which still have poor survival rates.

Dr Steve Pollard, senior researcher at the MRC Centre for Regenerative Medicine, is the lead scientist for the study which could help to save the lives of more people with brain tumours in the city – and across the UK – in the future.

He said:

We’re delighted to have been awarded this grant from Cancer Research UK to help further our understanding of brain tumours.

Whilst survival for many types of cancer has improved dramatically over the last 40 years, tackling brain tumours remains a real challenge and they take the lives of far too many people each year.

The vital investment in this study is crucial to help us understand the biology of brain tumours and find new and better ways to treat them.

We are committed to improving the outlook for people with brain tumours and their loved ones and hope to ensure more people survive this devastating disease.

Cancer Research UK’s Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards aim to encourage collaboration between research centres across the UK to inspire new approaches to beating cancer and help turn discoveries made in the lab into better treatments for patients faster.

Researchers from the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre will use their funding to work together with experts from three London research centres – University College London, the Institute of Cancer Research and the Francis Crick Institute.

Dr Iain Foulkes, executive director for research funding at Cancer Research UK, said:

Effective partnerships are crucial for delivering the greatest science and boosting advancements in fighting cancer. “We’re excited to be investing in collaborative and innovative research in Edinburgh and across the UK. It’s by working together and uniting expertise that we will accelerate cutting-edge research and save more lives.


Name:Linda Summerhayes; Cancer Research UK Press Manager
Telephone: 07824 600540 (mobile)
Email: Linda.Summerhayes@cancer.org.uk

Notes to editors

*The Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Centre is a partnership between Cancer Research UK, the University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian.

** The Centres’ Network Accelerator Awards provide infrastructure support to research centres in order to encourage collaboration between different organisations and boost ‘bench to bedside’ science.

About Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its life-saving research. Every step it makes towards beating cancer relies on every pound donated.
Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last forty years.
Today, 2 in 4 people still be alive 10 years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will still be alive 10 years or more after a cancer diagnosis.
Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses. Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.


Centre Directors

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    Prof Margaret Frame

    Science Director

  • david2Prof David Cameron

    Clinical Director

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