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Exploring the cellular hierarchies and the signaling pathways that govern cancer heterogeneity

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    About us    

We are a newly- established group passionate about cellular hierarchies and cancer heterogeneity. Our laboratory investigates the key signals governing cell fate specification during malignant progression and the mechanisms by which different signaling pathways control cell plasticity in both normal and pathological contexts. Specifically, we combine the use of murine transgenic models, human patient-derived xenografts and 3D-organotypic cultures to unravel cellular hierarchies within tumors, aiming to better understand cancer heterogeneity.  

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Our ultimate mission is to contribute to improving the treatment options available for cancer patients by searching for novel therapeutic strategies. 

     Our research lines     

Cancer is a heterogeneous disease, and our projects propose the use of different mouse and human models to thoroughly examine this heterogeneity. In the era of next-generation sequencing, we focus our research on cellular behaviour and the interactions between different cell populations using in vivo and ex vivo models to gain a comprehensive understanding beyond genetics, based on live microscopy imaging. Certainly, we use lineage tracing strategy, now considered the most reliable approach to studying cellular hierarchies and cell fate in vivo

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This type of clonal analysis involves using a genetic label to target specific cells and track their fate and progeny in vivo. This tool has been used to study cellular specification and assess stem cell potency in many tissues.

In some organs, such as the intestine or brain, clonal analyses have demonstrated the presence of multipotent adult stem cells capable of generating all differentiated cell types within their tissue of origin. However, in other tissues, such as the mammary gland, adult stem cells lack multipotent capacity but retain the ability to self-renew within distinct compartments. 

We are interested in investigatininvestigating how tumors mimic the cellular hierarchies observed in their physiological tissue counterparts, as this is crucial argument for understanding the tumor growth to further improve the current anti-cancer therapies. 

We are interested in investigating how tumors mimic the cellular hierarchies observed in their normal tissue counterparts, as this is crucial for comprehending tumor growth and enhancing existing anti-cancer therapies.

Our research will eventually explain the inefficacy of some current therapies, getting us closer to precision medicine and personalized treatments by determining the characteristics of each tumor. 

Our main lines of research and specific goals are:

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Define stem cell populations and describe their potency

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Elucidate the cell-of-origin of metastasis and tumor relapse 

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Characterize resistant populations to conventional therapies 

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Identify key players in cell fate and cellular plasticity 


Discover new therapeutical strategies to treat patients

Our group investigates the behavior of specific cellular populations in different types of cancer, focusing on diseases such as breast cancer and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

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