Cancer continues to be one of the most significant healthcare problems worldwide. In Europe, around three million new cases are diagnosed and 1.7 million people die of cancer each year. Given the strong association between the risk of cancer and advanced age, these levels will probably continue to rise as the population ages. More than 95% of cancers are solid tumors. Of these, one in four is a tumor arising in the respiratory tract (primarily lung cancer).
The Solid Tumors Program seeks to determine the molecular mechanisms that underlie the transformation of a normal epithelial cell into a malignant tumor capable of invading other organs. Our work primarily focuses on two types of cancer: lung cancer and brain tumors. In order to study these tumors, we have access to in vitro and in vivo disease models, genetic and cellular analysis methods, sophisticated image-analysis techniques and valuable collections of clinical samples from patients. One of our primary objectives is to identify molecular markers associated with the development of cancer in order to be able to devise and validate new strategies for early detection. We also investigate the design of new therapies directed at specific molecular alterations that are useful in the treatment of these types of cancer.
More specifically, our objectives are:
- To identify and functionally characterize the genetic events that lead to carcinogenesis and metastasis of solid tumors.
- To identify and validate biomarkers from the genetic profile of tumors which are clinically useful for the diagnosis and prognosis of solid tumors, especially in the context of screening programs.
- To identify and validate potential antimetastatic targets in order to develop new therapeutic strategies based primarily on small molecules.
- To identify molecular markers that are predictive of sensitivity or resistance to conventional or targeted chemotherapeutic treatments.
Our research is carried out in close cooperation with the departments at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra involved in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients. We work in an ongoing way with the Departments of Pediatrics, Pulmonary Medicine, Oncology, Thoracic Surgery, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Radiology, Pathology and Nuclear Medicine.
Several researchers in the CIMA Solid Tumors Program have been part of the European EU-ELCG and CURELUNG projects for the early detection and treatment of lung cancer. We also belong to the Cancer Biomedical Research Networking Center Consortium (CIBERONC), where we coordinate the Airway Cancer program. In addition, we collaborate with international institutions such as the Cancer Research Centre at the University of Liverpool, the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Albert Michallon in Grenoble and the MD Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas.