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A researcher from CIMA at the University of Navarra has identified 200 proteins which detect diseases of the liver

The biochemist Enrique Santamaría has identified biological markers which improve the diagnostic capability of conventional methods

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FOTO: Manuel Castells
25/11/05 10:23 Mª Pilar Huarte

The biochemist Enrique Santamaría Martínez, a researcher in the area of Genetic Therapy and Hepatology at the CIMA of the University of Navarra, has identified more than 200 proteins which can be considered as indicators of the progression of steatohepatitis and liver hepatitis. In addition, these proteins provide a basis for new lines of research which can develop clinical application strategies for improving the diagnosis and treatment of this cancer. This research forms part of his doctoral thesis, which was presented at the School of Sciences.

As Dr. Santamaría explains, the study of liver diseases is one of the primary objectives of biomedicine today, given the growing prevalence of these pathologies among the population. Although the risk factors are well known, such as genetic factors and excessive consumption of alcohol, the mechanisms which participate in the development of the disease are not so well known.

When he concluded his research, he noted that "one of the biomarkers, in particular the oxidized form of the apolipoprotein A1, has been detected in the blood serum of liver cancer patients. For this reason it is especially relevant in the area of diagnosis."

Proteomics: new technologies for studying proteins

The work of Dr. Enrique Santamaría allows clinical practitioners to discover "the alteration of proteins in the liver and, as a result, to discern the biological malfunctions associated with them, at a much earlier stage than permitted by conventional diagnostic methods alone." This is the case with prohibitin, a protein involved in the generation of energy for the maintenance of cellular activity, or with regucalcin, a protein involved in the control of cellular aging, among others.

For the research he performed at the CIMA of the University of Navarra, he used new technologies, such as proteomics. "This technique allows the study of hundreds of proteins simultaneously, and in this way we can define the natural history of diseases at the molecular level, and can identify markers which facilitate the diagnosis and treatment of these sicknesses."