Dr Michaela Frye and her research group at The University of Cambridge are studying skin stem cells – special cells that produce many different types of cells that make up our skin. Problems with these skin stem cells may lead to cancer, so understanding how they work is vital if we are to beat the disease in the future.
These mysterious cells have fascinated scientists for decades because of the way they divide. They have the choice to make more stem cells, but they can also make more specialised skin cells. Getting this balance right is essential for keeping us healthy – producing too many cells can lead to cancer, so understanding the decision process will answer fundamental questions on the origins of skin cancers.
Dr Frye is investigating certain molecules in skin stem cells that may be important for maintaining healthy cells as well as fuelling skin cancer. By getting to the heart of these powerful cells, Dr Frye’s exciting work is setting the scene for new ways to prevent and treat skin cancer in the future.