All donations to the CNIO go to the CNIO Friends program, which allows us to hire outstanding young researchers and open new lines of research with which to understand, diagnose and tackle cancer effectively. Each of your contributions has a real and direct impact.
Thank you for your support, together we will be able to stop cancer! We present here some of the CNIO Friends researchers:
Telomeres and Telomerase Group (CNIO) – Humanism and Science Foundation
“I investigate telomeres which are structures at the ends of chromosomes that are essential for DNA protection and genomic stability. Their alterations affect important biological processes, from aging to cancer”. Isabel seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms that control the state of telomeres, which is key knowledge to develop new therapeutic strategies. She will also use cutting-edge technology to study the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy on telomere length.
“Brain metastasis is a highly relevant clinical problem without effective therapies. My goal is to help understand how the tumor reprograms certain brain cells (astrocytes) for its own benefit.” Lluis’s project will study the development of metastasis with the aim to prevent the advancement of the disease and establish effective strategies to treat it.
“My main goal is to use genome-wide biomarkers to target chromosomal instability (CIN) – a hallmark of cancer linked to metastasis and therefore poor prognosis.” Bárbara will develop new models to accurately characterise the biological causes of each type of CIN, and to develop novel therapeutic targeting strategies for more personalised treatment of the deadliest cancers.
"I´m investigating the development of new therapies against pancreatic adenocarcinoma and non-small cell lung cancer. Both tumors are related to mutations in the KRAS gene, which cause most of these types of cancer." Carolina wants to discover the mechanisms of resistance to current therapies and to identify therapeutic targets whose combined inhibition with the KRAS pathway achieves complete tumor regression.
"My research is focused on understanding the function of the key regulator of the TFEB protein, relevant in cellular cleansing processes related to aging and cancer." Ivó´s objective is to explore the molecular mechanisms that regulate this protein in order to find new chemical and genetic strategies to enhance its activity in patients and prolong life expectancy in a healthy way.
“The main objective of my project is the identification of new molecular mechanisms in cases with a predisposition to cancer where the cause is unknown.” Clara works on the validation of new genetic targets detected through sequencing techniques and computational analysis, to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with hereditary cancer.
"I study the molecular mechanisms involved in the development of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. I investigate the role of NR5A2, a protein that regulates cell differentiation in the pancreas, intestine and liver, and protects against inflammatory phenomena." Mikhail aims to understand how the manipulation of NR5A2 and other molecules that cooperate with it contribute to prevent/improve pancreatitis and reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer.
My goal is to elucidate the structure of the URI protein complex to clarify its behavior and to see how its alteration induces cancer.” Rayan will use state-of-the-art protein engineering, biochemistry and cryo-electron microscopy, to lay the structural foundations of the role of URI in cancer and propose new therapeutic approaches based on altering this protein complex.
“I study the three-dimensional structure of proteins involved in the replication and maintenance of the mitochondrial genome”. Recently, an association between mitochondrial DNA defects and various types of cancer has been discovered, although the mechanisms have not been investigated to date. Elena wants to understand the impact of mutations on disease and develop new therapeutic approaches by studying the proteins involved.
"I investigate amino acid transporters, a group of proteins responsible for the movement of amino acids through biological membranes." María is working to understand their structure and function, since altered transport of amino acids can cause tumors, metabolic diseases or neurological disorders. The objective is to move towards obtaining specific drugs directed at these transporters.
“I do research with patient derived tumor organoids from metastatic breast cancer patients”. Ana’s objective is to find better targeted and personalized therapies for patients with advanced Triple Negative (TNNBC) and hormone positive breast tumors.
Metabolism and Cellular Signaling Group (CNIO)
“My project will explore whether the microenvironment determines cell malignant transformation beyond the effect of mutations or in combination with them, in the context of pancreatic carcinoma”. Yurena aims to understand the possible contribution of non-autonomous factors to pancreatic cancer progression.
The main goal of my research is to find new targets to block melanoma metastasis and prevent relapse of therapy resistant tumors, the main causes of death of melanoma patients. In particular, my project aims to analyze the use of the NGFR small molecule inhibitor (THX-B) as anti-metastatic therapy in melanoma, alone or in combination with current immunotherapies, and the mechanisms underlying these events.
I explore how MASTL-PP2A/B55, a pathway involved in mitosis, regulates metabolism. Given that metabolic changes have implications in cancer but also in other western diseases, these analyses might provide new therapeutic targets to prevent and to treat these illness, improving patients’ lives.
Previous ‘CNIO Friends’ contracts
“I study how cells regulate the initiation of DNA replication to ensure the correct inheritance of genetic material”. Sergio aims to understand the mechanisms that prevent improper reduplication of genomic regions leading to genetic instability, a phenomenon that usually fuels different type of cancers.
“I study the structural and molecular bases for the regulation of the mTOR signalling pathway by molecular chaperones.” Sofía’s project explores new potential strategies to target the mTOR pathway against cancer progression.
“I study the contribution of STAG2 mutations to aggressive Ewing Sarcoma (EWS), which is the second most frequent type of bone cancer in children.” Maria’s goal is to understand how STAG2 mutations promote the metastatic phenotype to likelly improve the clinical management and the outcome of EWS patients with metastatic disease.
Computational Cancer Genomics Group (CNIO)
"I study how the RET protein works, as it plays an important role in neuroblastoma, a type of fatal childhood cancer (15%) that affects the cells of the adrenal gland and the peripheral nervous system." Moustafa investigates personalised therapeutic strategies in the treatment of this aggressive tumor.
Melanoma Group (CNIO)
“I study how melanoma acts at a distance before metastasis and evades the immune system in different anatomical structures.” Magdalena’s research has a particular emphasis on the role of MIDKINE in different cell populations of the bone marrow.
“My project will centre on how to increase the anti-tumoral response of the immune system in the context of pancreatic and lung tumours induced by KRAS oncogenes”. The research of Federico aims to improve the treatment of these tumours, which are among the most aggressive and lethal cancer types.
Growth Factors, Nutrients and Cancer Group (CNIO)
“I work in elucidating the 3D structure and providing an atomic model of the Unconventional Prefoldin RPB5 interactor-like (URI) protein complex”. Albert is looking for the structural basis for the role of URI in cancer and aims to propose novel therapeutic strategies by disrupting the complex interactions.
Genomic Instability and Structural Biology Group (CNIO)
“I investigate the molecular ‘disguises’ and ‘breaks’ that allow tumor cells to avoid an attack from the immune system.” Understanding the biology of these mechanisms is essential for the development of effective immunotherapies against cancer.
"I explore the novel mechanism between liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.” The aim of Kim’s project is to provide a new treatment option for liver cancer patients.
"I investigate how RET oncogene activity is altered in certain cancer types, such as lung and breast cancer, as well as neuroblastoma." Rubén aims to find compounds capable of inhibiting this gene that could provide more effective treatments against these types of tumours.
"I study the role of telomere dysfunction in the origin of kidney and liver fibrosis, which in its advanced stages may lead to cancer in these organs." Sarita’s goal is to find new therapies for the treatment of these diseases.
"I study the three-dimensional structure of CAD, a protein that is highly expressed in cancer." María analyses how genetic mutations affect the structure of this protein, to develop new therapies for treatment.
Breast Cancer Clinical Research Unit (CNIO)
"I investigate the potential of immunology as a strategy against breast cancer, specifically in Triple Negative tumors (TNBC) for a better understanding of its evolution”. Rebeca’s research aims to identify treatments targeted to the tumor with fewer side effects than current therapies.
"I study the role of post-translational modifications of shelterin proteins in telomere maintenance." Giuseppe´s goal is to identify novel pathways and kinases whose activity is required for chromosome end protection.
"I explore therapeutic and diagnostic options for brain metastasis." These metastases arise in 10-40% of all cancer cases originating from different organs. Neibla is the first author of a study that describes how a compound called silibinin can reduce them.
“We have identified a molecule involved in the survival of tumour cells when they divide. Our working hypothesis is that if we can manage to inhibit the action of those molecules, it should keep the tumour from spreading.” Carolina is looking closely at what could prove to be a new target for pharmacological-based cancer treatments.
Seve-Ballesteros Foundation Brain Tumors Group (CNIO)
“I have undertaken a study focusing on gliomas, cerebral tumours common in children and adolescents.” Miguel’s goal is to see that the results are transferred to the clinical sphere, where they can contribute to increasing patients’ survival rates and improving the quality of life.
Epithelial Carcinogenesis Group (CNIO)
“I study neuroblastoma, one of the most frequent tumors in children.” Irene hopes that the molecular findings and the translational aspects of the project, such as the identification of therapeutic strategies and the development of biomarkers, have their application in clinic in the near future.
“I am examining the process by which nanoparticles can be used to transport medication to a specific location in the body, on account of their enhanced ability to reach the compromised cells.” Sebastián’s work involves searching for the best way to make certain that the greatest possible number of nanoparticles actually make it all the way to the tumour location.