New diagnostic and therapeutic tools

Due to their etiology, cancers are highly heterogeneous at multiple levels. On the one hand, patients affected by a common tumor type can display marked physiological and molecular differences despite the cell of origin or the clinical classification of the cancer involved. On the other hand, cancer cells from the same tumor can show different biological and clinical features depending on the region of the primary tumor mass or the metastatic site in which they are located in. To make things worse, the heterogeneity of tumors can evolve in time and space due to pressures imposed by both physiological constraints and drug treatments. We are also beginning to understand that standard chemotherapy treatments can drive the development of new genomic changes that can subsequently favor tumor recurrence. This inter- and intra-patient heterogeneity makes it very difficult the diagnosis, effective treatment, and long-term survival of cancer patients. To deal with this problem, we will need a deeper understanding of those processes at the genomics, signaling, and cellular level with a perspective of space and time. In addition, we will have to solidify and further implement personalized precision medicine (PPM) strategies both at the basic and clinical level. Nowadays, however, these approaches are still in their infancy.

Recent genomics studies have revealed that most tumors develop during long periods of time, a process during which the accumulation of mutations and divergent cancer cell clones arise. Due to this, it is widely assumed that the detection of tumors at very early times would significantly simplify their handling at the clinical level. Unfortunately, there are no technologies (molecular or physics-based) as yet available to allow such early detection in patients in routine clinical practice.

The implementation of PPM-based tools in cancer should be based on the combination of new detection techniques (biomarkers, liquid biopsy, physics-based equipment of higher spatial resolution), a holistic understanding of tumor evolution pre- and post-treatment, the identification of actionable targets, and new strategies for patient stratification.

    • Pilar Navarro | Cancer molecular targets
    • Juan Manuel Zapata Hernández | Preclinical models and new therapies
    • Gema Moreno Bueno | Cancer molecular pathology
    • Paulino Gómez-Puertas | Molecular Modeling
    • Gemma Fabrias Domingo | Research Unit on BioActive Molecules (RUBAM)
    • Jorge Camacho | Ultrasonic systems and technologies
    • Javier de las Rivas | Bioinformatics and functional genomics
    • María Luisa Toribio | Human lymphohematopoietic system development
    • Esteban Veiga | Novel cellular therapies against cancer
    • Juan Carlos Morales Sánchez | Biological chemistry: molecular recognition and drug design
    • Jose C. Fernandez-Checa | Mitochondrial regulation of cell death
    • Ramón Díaz-Uriarte | Bioinformatics and computational biology of cancer evolution
    • Daniel Ruiz-Molina | Nanostructured Functional Materials (Nansofun)
    • Jesús M. Hernández Rivas | Molecular Cytogenetics- Oncohematology
    • Wolfgang Link | Molecular mechanisms of aging and cancer
    • Domingo F. Barber | Nanomedicine, immunotherapy in cancer and autoimmune diseases
    • Antoni Hurtado | Functional cancer genomics and proteomics
    • Faustino Mollinedo | Cell death and cancer therapy
    • Juan Carlos Lacal Sanjuán | Precision medicine in diseases caused by lipid metabolism dysfunction
    • Gustavo García Gómez-Tejedor | Radiation-matter interactions (RMI)
    • Albert Morales | Signaling in cell damage and cancer
    • Enrique de Álava | Molecular Pathology of sarcomas

CANCER MOLECULAR TARGETS

PILAR NAVARRO – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de Barcelona

Our group focus on the identification of novel molecular targets for human diseases, with particular emphasis in cancer. We are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying tumor progression and the relevance of tumor-stroma crosstalk in cancer onset and progression. Moreover, we aim to decipher the regulation of cancer-associated genetic changes. Our final goal is to unveil novel cancer molecular targets for early diagnosis and/or therapeutic interventions.

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PRECLINICAL MODELS AND NEW THERAPIES

JUAN MANUEL ZAPATA HERNÁNDEZ – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” (UAM-CSIC)

The goals of our laboratory are 1) to identify and study new genes involved in tumor development and progression, 2) to generate new mouse models of human diseases with preclinical interest, and 3) to translate this knowledge into clinical therapies by identifying and testing new chemotherapeutic drugs and immuno-modulatory agents in patient tumor cells and preclinical mouse models.

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CANCER MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY

GEMA MORENO BUENO – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” (UAM-CSIC)

The specific objectives of our group are: 1.- Decoding new resistance mechanisms to antitumor therapies in cancer; 2.-Development of targeted therapies based on nanomedicine; 3.- Understanding the role of pyroptosis and Gasdermin family protein in tumorigenesis; 4.- Deciphering mechanisms of tumor progression and metastasis.

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MOLECULAR MODELING

PAULINO GÓMEZ-PUERTAS – Centro de Biología Molecular “Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM) 

Analysis by computational simulation of enzymatic reactions catalyzed by GTPases and ATPases of biomedical interest. Development of a new and efficient drug design system based on computational dynamic simulation of macromolecular structures. Design of specific inhibitors as antitumor drugs.

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RESEARCH UNIT ON BIOACTIVE MOLECULES (RUBAM)

GEMMA FABRIAS DOMINGO – Instituto de Química Avanzada de Cataluña (IQAC-CSIC)

Development of probes (design, synthesis and functional validation) to monitor sphingolipid metabolism, with a focus on therapeutically relevant pathways in cancer and rare diseases. Discovery of inhibitors (rational design and library screening) as hits in drug discovery. Research on novel targeted protein degraders to deplete the levels of therapeutic target proteins.

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ULTRASONIC SYSTEMS AND TECHNOLOGIES

JORGE CAMACHO – Instituto de Tecnologías Físicas y de la Información

Research and development in ultrasound technology for medical and industrial applications. In medicine, research on automated multi-modal breast imaging for cancer screening.

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BIOINFORMATICS AND FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS

JAVIER DE LAS RIVAS – Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular del Cáncer (CSIC-USAL)

Our group works in the area of Cancer Research in the development and application of methods for “omics data analysis” from human samples using Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, as well as Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies, always applied to Precision Medicine & Medical Genomics.

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HUMAN LYMPHOHEMATOPOIETIC SYSTEM DEVELOPMENT

MARÍA LUISA TORIBIO – Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa

We study the mechanisms that control lineage fate decisions of human hematopoietic progenitors, focusing on T-cell commitment and differentiation in the thymus. Our aim is to identify molecular effectors of physiological T-cell development whose dysregulation results in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, with the ultimate goal of developing specific targeting therapies.

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NOVEL CELLULAR THERAPIES AGAINST CANCER    

ESTEBAN VEIGA – Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB)

We are generating novel immunotherapies using the ability of bacteria to modify the immune responses. Bacteria exposure “trains” conventional CD4+ T cells. Bacteria-trained CD4+ T cells (bacT), could be useful in antitumor therapies. Mice treated with bacT cells that have captured/killed bacteria expressing tumor antigen were protected against tumor development.

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BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY: MOLECULAR RECOGNITION AND DRUG DESIGN  

JUAN CARLOS MORALES SÁNCHEZ – Instituto de Parasitología y Biomedicina López Neyra

Our group designs and synthesized small molecules as potential chemotherapeutic agents. We are focused on G-quadruplex as therapeutic targets.

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MITOCHONDRIAL REGULATION OF CELL DEATH

JOSE C. FERNÁNDEZ-CHECA – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de Barcelona

Non alcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, bile acids, mitochondrial cholesterol, STARD1, oxidative stress

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BIOINFORMATICS AND COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY OF CANCER EVOLUTION

RAMÓN DÍAZ-URIARTE – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols”

Evolutionary models of cancer; computational models of tumor progression. Use and development of probabilistic models to identify restrictions in the order of accumulation of mutations and predict trajectories of tumor evolution.

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NANOSTRUCTURED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS (NANOSFUN)

DANIEL RUIZ-MOLINA – Instituto Catalán de Nanociencia y Nanotecnología (ICN2)

One of the main activities of the Nanosfun group is focused on the development of polymeric nanoparticles and coatings for diagnosis (imaging) and therapy (drug release), involving the fine-tuning of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance, biocompatibility or other additional properties via surface (bio)functionalization.

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MOLECULAR CYTOGENETICS-ONCOHEMATOLOGY

JESÚS M. HERNÁNDEZ RIVAS – Centro de Investigación del Cáncer

The Molecular cytogenetics in OncoHematology group work on the determination of molecular markers with a diagnostic and prognostic interest, the identification of genetic mechanisms related to the pathogenesis of malignant haematological disorders, as well as towards the integration of genomic high-throughput technologies for the study of cancer.

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The focus of our research has been the PI3K/AKT/FOXO signaling which is considered as the most frequently activated pathway in cancer. FOXO is the major transcriptional effector of this signaling pathway and inactivated in many tumours. FOXO3a is the second most replicated gene associated with extreme human longevity.

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NANOMEDICINE, IMMUNOTHERAPY IN CANCER AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES (NANOIMMUNOTHER)

DOMINGO F. BARBER – Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (CNB)

Our group aims to develop nanobiotechnology-based tools to enhance the efficacy of immunotherapy for the treatment of Cancer and Autoimmune Diseases.

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FUNCTIONAL GENOMICS AND PROTEOMICS

ANTONI HURTADO – Centro de Investigación del Cáncer (IBMCC)

The Group investigates the resistance to breast cancer theapies. We aim to determine how ER and anti-CDK4/6 inhibitory drugs work and to investigate the molecular mechanisms of resistance.

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CELL DEATH AND CANCER THERAPY

FAUSTINO MOLLINEDO – Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas Margarita Salas

Novel therapeutic targets in cancer; Drug Discovery; Apoptosis and cancer; Alkylphospholipid analogs; Mechanism of action of antitumor drugs; Cytoskeleton-targeted drugs; Cell death; Death receptor; Lipid rafts and cell death; Signal transduction; Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Cancer stem cells; Neutrophils; Neutrophil granules and exocytosis; Neutrophils and cancer; Arginase and cancer; Leishmania.

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PRECISION MEDICINE IN DISEASES CAUSED BY LIPID METABOLISM DYSFUNCTION

JUAN CARLOS LACAL SANJUÁN – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” (UAM-CSIC)

We are focused in the design of precision medicine strategies by modulation of cell metabolism. We have demonstrated that choline kinase, an enzyme involved in the synthesis of phosphatidylcholine is a new target for the design of novel therapeutics in cancer and a molecular marker of prognosis and response to treatment.

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RADIATION-MATTER INTERACTIONS (RMI)

GUSTAVO GARCÍA GÓMEZ-TEJEDOR – Instituto de Física Fundamental

Modelling radiation interaction at the molecular level we provide complementary tools for advanced radiation-based treatments and diagnostics (proton-therapy, ion-beam cancer therapy and positron emission tomography). These models include secondary electron and radical induced damage to evaluate the biological effectiveness. The reliability of these models is supported by radiobiological experiments.

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SIGNALING IN CELL DAMAGE AND CANCER

ALBERT MORALES – Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas de Barcelona

Our group’s objectives are to identify markers that can anticipate the efficacy of the different treatments available for patients, particularly with liver tumors, and develop new therapies targeting tumor microenvironment proteins and immunotherapy as an alternative to, or in combination with, current chemotherapy.

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MOLECULAR PATHOLOGY OF SARCOMAS

ENRIQUE DE ÁLAVA – Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla (IBiS)

Molecular and Cellular Biology of sarcomas, and its application to cancer care.

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