There are currently three main areas defined where GENYO will perform its scientific activity: Area of Genomic Medicine, Area of Genomic Oncology and Area of Pharmacogenomics. Each of these areas shall include different strategic lines, including the centre’s different research groups.
The Area of Genomic Medicine is devised as a scientific production structure which will preferably include research groups centred on work in the area of genetic epidemiology of some of the main public health problems (cancer, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, rare diseases, etc.).
Genetic epidemiology is a discipline takes care of studying the role of genetic factors and their interaction with environmental factors in the aetiology of human disease. Genetic epidemiology combines the genetic method with the epidemiological method to study genetic variation in human populations and their relation with normal and pathological phenotypical changes.
The groups in this area are:
This area focuses on research into those genetic abnormalities that give rise to the process of carcinogenesis and its progression. Among the fields of special interest we can highlight that of genomic instability that appeals in cancer cells, where there occurs an explosion of mutations that affect the DNA of the entire cell (11,000 mutations in tumour cells in initial stages and around 100,000 in advanced tumours). Delaying or preventing genomic instability provides a new approach to treat cancer and measuring the degree of genomic instability may also be a useful tool in diagnosing cancer.
In addition to advancing in the knowledge of the bases of disease, and in particular cancer, GENYO, due to its character of research centre with a clear translational vocation, should orientate part of its lines to development of new therapeutic issues which respond to health problems. In this sense, the development of gene therapy research projects will be one of the lines prioritized.
The breakthrough some years back of the new methods for the controlled differentiation of embryonic stem cells or the cellular reprogramming of differentiated cells, combined with genetic modification techniques, may not only generate more precise human models of disease than animal models, but tackle new cell replacement therapies using genetically modified stem cells.
In this sense, the use of embryonic stem cells as models of cancer pathologies is a field to be exploited from the Area of Genomic Oncology. The contribution, on the other hand, of hematopoietic and mesenchymal stem cell biology can be made in the knowledge of the regulation of central processes in oncology, such as, for example, those related to chronic inflammation or angiogenesis, will be prioritized by the Area of Genomic Oncology.
The strategic lines of this area are, therefore, oriented to the study of the genetic basis of cancer, especially those mechanisms present in all or the majority of the different types of cancer such as the mechanisms which cause uncontrolled cell division, metastasis or genomic instability, the development of human disease models in cancer from stem cells, new viral vectors, and preclinical and clinical developments with gene therapies.
The groups in this area are: