Ivan Plaza-Menacho, from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland), is joining the CNIO after developing a large part of his career abroad
Plaza-Menacho will lead a new research group to study the biophysics, biochemistry, and the structure of kinases; proteins that are involved in cancer
A greater understanding of these molecules at the atomic and molecular levels will help to develop more effective cancer treatments
His arrival will strengthen the Centre's Structural Biology Programme and the Drug Discovery Programme
Ivan Plaza-Menacho’s exceptional and multidisciplinary scientific approach, which combines experience in both structural biology and cancer cell biology, is coming to the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO). The researcher will head the Kinases, Protein Phosphorylation, and Cancer Group, which focuses on studying the 3D structure of kinases, which are intimately involved in the origin and development of cancer, as well as in the resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs.
“The fact that the CNIO is enabling me to continue performing top-level science has been decisive”, Plaza-Menacho has underlined. He will be coming to the Centre after developing a large part of his career abroad, in institutions, such as the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) or the London Research Institute of Cancer Research UK (both in London), and the Biozentrum at the University of Basel (Switzerland).
The Group headed by Plaza-Menacho, which strengthens the Structural Biology and Biocomputing Programme at the CNIO, aims “to understand how kinases, which are directly involved in cancer, function,” as he himself explains. In particular, “I will focus on the link that the three-dimensional information of these proteins has on their functional state. This will require using a series of techniques and methods from various disciplines, such as structural biology, biochemical and biophysical techniques, or cell signalling assays,” he adds.
In recent years, Plaza-Menacho has studied the involvement of the RET tyrosine kinase receptor in hormone-dependent breast cancer (oestrogen receptor positive), and its relationship with resistance to hormone therapy, which eventually develops in many patients. The researcher shall continue to work in this field and study the main role played by kinase proteins in other tumour types, such as in lung and thyroid cancers, among others.
On the one hand, his arrival strengthens the Structural Biology Programme, aimed at the structural and computational study of molecular systems related to cancer; and, on the other hand, the Drug Discovery Programme (Experimental Therapeutics), one of CNIO’s key strategic areas, aimed at finding new compounds to combat this disease.