Your very own cancer avatar

Fátima Al-Shahrour, from the CNIO in Madrid, came last week to the PRBB to give a talk entitled “Bioinformatics challenges for personalized medicine”. She explained what they do at her Translational Bioinformatics Unit in the Clinical Research Programme. And what they do is both exciting and promising. They start with a biopsy of a tumour from a cancer patient who has relapsed after some initial treatment – they concentrate mostly in pancreatic cancer, but it would work with any, in principle. From this sample, they derive cell lines, but also – and they are quite unique in this – they … Continue reading Your very own cancer avatar

“Healthy criticism is essential for change and success”

An interview published in Ellipse, the monthly magazine of the PRBB. Vivek Malhotra was born in India 50 years ago and received his formal education in England. After graduating from Oxford, he went to the US as a postdoc at Stanford. He was a professor at the University of California in San Diego where he has spent most of his life. Married to a Basque biologist, in 2008 he came to the PRBB where he coordinates the Cell and Developmental Biology programme of the CRG. What differences are there between here and the US?  Americans are goal oriented and very driven. They want to … Continue reading “Healthy criticism is essential for change and success”

“Memory is built on concept neurones”

So, here’s the interview to Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, who came recently to give a talk at the PRBB. The title “The Jenifer Anniston neurone” was interesting… the content was much more so! This interview was published in the PRBB monthly newspaper, Ellipse. You can also read an earlier post about his talk here. Figuring out how the brain works is the obsession of Rodrigo Quian, professor at the University of Leicester (UK). This challenge led him to apply his physics training and a PhD in maths to neuroscience. With the discovery of the “Jennifer Aniston neurone”, or concept cells, it … Continue reading “Memory is built on concept neurones”

El·lipse: Celebrating the 5th PRBB Open Day

The 5th Open Day at the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) opens this edition of El·lipse, the park’s monthly newspaper. Other news include the celebration of the CRG 10th anniversary, new proteins important for cell division or for tumour growth, how stem cell dysfunction links cancer and ageing or a new drug against skin cancer. You will also learn about the “Jennifer Aniston” neurone from Rodrigo Quian, from the University of Leicester (UK), or about the effects of radiations from mobile phones on our health, a subject that Elisabeth Cardis (CREAL) and her group are studying. You can read a multimedia … Continue reading El·lipse: Celebrating the 5th PRBB Open Day

“We are the interface between industry and academia” – Computer-assisted drug design lab

The Computer-Assisted Drug Design (CADD) laboratory of the GRIB is devoted to the area of drug design and development. Directed by Manuel Pastor, who started the group 10 years ago at the IMIM, it includes pharmacists, biologists, chemists, and a mathematician. “We also had a telecommunications engineer at one point. Our research needs experts in both science and programming”, justifies Pastor. The group’s interests are divided into three main areas. The first is methodological: they have written several programs marketed and are used by many pharmaceutical companies. The most recent one is Pentacle, which allows the creation of models relating … Continue reading “We are the interface between industry and academia” – Computer-assisted drug design lab

Beware of confounding effects: the case of PARP

A new article in which the groups of Jordi Mestres and José Yelamos, both at the IMIM, have collaborated, represents an example of how many gaps there are in our knowledge of biological processes, and of the potential danger of this lack of knowledge might cause. In this case, the focus is small molecules. These are widely used in chemical biology, usually as inhibitors to try to understand the function of specific proteins they target. But despite the fact they are commonly used, we don’t have a complete knowledge of their target profile, and they might have unknown off-target interactions. … Continue reading Beware of confounding effects: the case of PARP

Finding the genes underlying complex genetic diseases

Complex genetic disorders often involve multiple proteins interacting with each other, and pinpointing which of them are actually important for the disease is still challenging. Many computational approaches exploiting interaction network topology have been successfully applied to prioritize which individual genes may be involved in diseases, based on their proximity to known disease genes in the network. In a paper published in PLoS One, Baldo Oliva, head of the Structural bioinformatics group at the GRIB (UPF–IMIM)  and Emre Guney, have presented GUILD (Genes Underlying Inheritance Linked Disorders), a new genome-wide network-based prioritization framework. GUILD includes four novel algorithms that use protein-protein interaction data to predict gene-phenotype associations at genome-wide scale, … Continue reading Finding the genes underlying complex genetic diseases

“Personalised medicine and Big Pharma need bioinformatics”

David Searls retired three years ago from his position as senior Vice President of Bioinformatics in GlaxoSmithKline. Since then, this computer scientist who spent 16 years in academia and 19 years in industry has gone back to his theoretical studies on linguistic analysis of biological sequences. He was invited to the PRBB and talked to us about drugs and computers. This interview was published in Ellipse, the monthly magazine of the PRBB. What part does bioinformatics have in drug development?  It is an essential step along the way. This is because not only drug discovery, but all biology, has become, since the … Continue reading “Personalised medicine and Big Pharma need bioinformatics”

The extra finger of the chicken

The extra finger of the chicken In this image from the CMRB we can see the induction of an extra finger in the interdigital space of a chicken. This finger has grown thanks to a microsphere (the blue dot in the image) that is covered in Activin A, a molecule with the ability to form cartilage. The microsphere was introduced in the interdigital space of the chicken embryo when it was 5 days old. After incubating it for 3 more days, the Activin A has induced the formation of the finger. Continue reading The extra finger of the chicken

Learning about aging from induced stem cells

Research on human aging is a hot topic nowadays, due to a growing aging population and the consequent prevalence of aging-associated diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis or cardiovascular diseases. Researchers at the CMRB review  the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) to study the fundamental mechanisms underlying aging in this article published in Current Opinion in Cell Biology. Indeed, hiPSC-based models of aging and aging-related diseases are facilitating the study of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying aging. For example, the use of iPSCs from patients with accelerated aging (like those with Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome) could recapitulate the aging process in … Continue reading Learning about aging from induced stem cells