Skip to content
Research Fellows Directory

Maddy Parsons

Professor Maddy Parsons

Research Fellow

Organisation

King's College London

Research summary

The movement of different types of cell within the body is crucial to such processes as embryonic development, immunity and wound healing. It is vital that the way in which cells move or “migrate” and the proteins involved in this process are fully understood in order to allow the design of therapies to tackle diseases where cell movement is uncontrolled. Cell migration in humans is not a random process, but a highly complex, tightly regulated one. Initially, the cell must receive a signal from the environment to use as a cue to migrate. This provides the cell with a sense of direction and stimulates movement persistently in one direction, namely towards the source of the signal. For example, during wound healing, soluble factors are released into the wound itself by blood cells or invading bacteria. These factors trigger cells at the edge of the wound to move in and repopulate the wound space, and begin the healing process. The actual mechanism that cells use to co-ordinate these events is still not well understood. However, what is known is that cells must first attach to the surrounding tissue matrix proteins, such as collagen, to be able to move. Attachment is achieved mainly using specialized membrane-bound (receptor) proteins called integrins. Integrins anchor the cell body to the surrounding matrix and, in doing so, trigger changes to specific proteins inside the cell. My laboratory uses microscopy to watch the behaviour of cells in the presence and absence of different integrins and their signalling partners. Once we understand the way in which a cell uses the integrins to move, we can begin to manipulate these proteins with a view to developing treatments to prevent disorders such as cancer, inflammatory asthma and developmental abnormalities.

Grants awarded

Beta 1 integrin intracellular binding proteins in cell adhesion and motility

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2010 - Sep 2013

Value: £356,389.49

beta1 integrin intracellular binding proteins in cell adhesion and motility

Scheme: University Research Fellowship

Dates: Oct 2005 - Sep 2010

Value: £279,689.60