What is the focus of our program—What questions are
We are identifying and characterizing the signaling molecules that control the interphase between cell survival and death cascades. The main emphasis is to study how cancer cells reprogram their metabolism and protein homeostasis to survive nutrient stress conditions associated to tumor progression and how they might use autophagy to prevent various forms of cell death, including apoptosis and necrosis. We address these fundamental biological questions at the organismal level, utilizing relevant models of human cancer, and at a cellular and detailed structural level. This interdisciplinary approach, together with our capability of drug discovery, positions our program at the leading edge of translating basic discoveries into better medicines.
How will our research help patients?
One of the fundamental weaknesses in the present treatment of cancer is the ability of tumor cells to endure stress. Understanding these pathways, and the identification of the key proteins that control the ability of cancer cells to reprogram their metabolism through biochemical, and epigenetic or genetic alterations that make them resistant to therapies, is of paramount importance for the design of more targeted and therefore less toxic therapies. Our program constitutes a highly interdisciplinary group addressing these important questions, which results in the identification of new and more selective therapeutic targets not only for cancer but also for other pathologies.