Molecular Oncology Programme

Experimental Oncology Group

Group Leader:  Mariano Barbacid

KRAS oncogenes have been implicated in one fifth of all human tumours including lung and pancreatic adenocarcinomas, two tumour types with some of the worse prognosis. Unfortunately, identification of suitable therapies to treat these tumours remains elusive and patients are still treated with cytotoxic compounds approved over 2 decades ago. The recent discovery that tumours display intra-tumour heterogeneity adds another layer of complexity that needs to be addressed. Hence, we have decided to search for novel therapeutic targets that contribute to the early stages of tumour development, arguing that they should be present in all tumour cells and not only in evolving clones. In addition, we have continued our quest to validate known targets among the members of the MAPK and PI3K pathways using genetically engineered mouse tumour models with the ultimate goal of establishing rational combination therapies that may provide significant therapeutic benefits in the clinic.