oncología

Unit Manager: Charles Lawrie, Ph.D.

Biodonostia HRI

Cancer is the main cause of death among Spanish men, and the second among Spanish women. Every year, over 160,000 new cases are diagnosed in Spain alone. There are over 200 types of cancer that can occur in any of the more than 60 organs in the human body.

Approximately 1 in 3 people will develop cancer at some moment in their life. However, largely thanks to advances in scientific research and improvements in patient care and treatment, the prognosis for people with cancer has improved considerably in recent years.

The Oncology Research Area works to promote cancer research by developing an integral programme of translational biomedical research.

The Area’s research comprehensively covers differing and synergistic aspects of translational cancer research: the study of the molecules and genes involved in cancer (Molecular Oncology group); study of the cancer cell (Cellular Oncology group); and improvements to the treatment and management of cancer patients (Breast Cancer group).

The vision of the Molecular Oncology group (www.microRNAworld.com) is to understand the function and identity of nucleic acids (RNA/DNA) involved in cáncer, and to exploit this knowledge for the discovery (via high throughput technology) of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets. They are mainly interested in the role of non-coding (nc)RNA such as microRNAs, and have carried out many pioneering studies on the identity and role of microRNAs abnormally expressed in cancers, with the experts in this unit being internationally recognised in this field. They are particularly active in the liquid biopsy field, including the use of next generation sequencing (NGS) for new biomarker discovery.

Cellular Oncology focuses on the role of the cancer stem cell (CSC), how it can initiate and maintain cancer as well as its role in anti-cancer drug resistance. They are also active in the interaction between cancer and aging at the cellular level. They are particularly focused on brain tumours that are, in general, malignant and have a very poor prognosis.

The Breast Cancer area comes under the cooperative group GEICAM (Spanish Group for Breast Cancer Research, www.geicam.org which is already well known and established on an international scale, dealing with the development of major clinical trials that have brought about a change in habitual practices.

The global objective is to contribute to the development of programmes that optimise a personalised approach to the treatment of breast cancer patients.