Liver disease is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the developed world and emerging economies. In the European Union alone, nearly 29 million people suffer from chronic liver disease, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Dr. Matías Ávila, the Director of the Hepatology Program:
"We've identified proteins that can protect liver tissue in acute lesions and we're developing ways in which these proteins can be turned into drugs"
Solid Tumors and Biomarkers
Every year in Europe, approximately 3 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed, and 1.7 million people die from this disease. More than 95% of cases are solid tumors and, of these, one out of every four is a respiratory tumor.
Dr. Rubén Pío, Director of the Solid Tumors and Biomarkers Program:
"Our studies have enabled us to identify markers for early detection, as well as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive markers of response to treatment, which may be useful in the clinical management of patients with lung cancer"
Despite major advances in the knowledge of the biology of blood cancers (mainly leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma), which have contributed to the development of more effective and less toxic therapies, the percentage of patients who currently have no satisfactory treatment is still very high.
Dr. Felipe Prósper, Director of the Hematology-Oncology Program:
"Interaction between scientists and doctors makes it possible to develop high-impact translational projects that can be personalized for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma"
Brain diseases are among the greatest challenges of medicine in the 21st century due to their growing incidence, their complexity and the enormous human and public-health costs involved.
Dra. Isabel Pérez-Otaño, Director of the Neuroscience Program:
"We aim to identify factors that give rise to the neurodegenerative process in order to design new experimental strategies that make it possible to detect and treat the disease in the early stages."
As a group, cardiovascular diseases constitute the leading cause of death and hospitalization in Western countries in general and especially in Spain.
Dr. Javier Díez, Director of the Cardiovascular Disease Program:
"We've identified two new mechanisms involved in fibrosis of the myocardium, which facilitates heart failure, and in brain damage due to atherothrombotic ischemic stroke"
Immunology and Immunotherapy
Cancer immunotherapy involves activating or redirecting the mechanisms of the immune system against cancer cells, so that these mechanisms perform just as they do when they encounter viral infections, i.e., by destroying the infected cells.
Dr. Juan José Lasarte, Director of the Immunology and Immunotherapy Program:
"Our team has developed highly promising immune-regulating molecules and vaccination strategies that have enabled us to carry out clinical trials with excellent results".
Gene Therapy and Regulation of Gene Expression
Some diseases are caused by the lack of a gene or gene dysfunction. Gene therapy attempts to replace the absent or damaged gene. This requires transport mechanisms, called vectors, that carry this gene to the right place.
Dra. Gloria González Aseguinolaza, Director of the Gene Therapy and Regulation of Gene Expression Program:
"We have begun the first clinical trial using gene therapy approved in the European Union for the treatment of acute intermittent porphyria".
In the past 15 years, it has been shown that most tissues have the ability to regenerate, thanks to the presence of stem cells and/or progenitor cells. Furthermore, the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) and advances in cell reprogramming have made cell therapy one of the pillars of the medicine of the future.
Dr. Felipe Prósper, Director of the Cell Therapy Program:
"Cell therapy is one of the essential pillars of the medicine of the future, thanks to the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) and the consolidation of cell reprogramming"
CIMA researchers are looking for molecules with a high therapeutic potential (aptamers, peptides and small molecules) that can meet unresolved medical needs.
Dr. Julen Oyarzabal, Director of the Molecular Therapies Program:
"Our goal is to discover new molecular therapies that can meet unresolved medical needs, based on new targets and/or mechanisms of action contributed by researchers from the Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA)".