Closing in on advanced prostate cancer

The incidence of prostate cancer is increasing worldwide. In the US and Europe, it is one of the most common tumours and among the main causes of death by cancer. In most cases, prostate cancer is cured by surgical removal of the tumour and/or by radiotherapy. However, 20% of patients will need treatment to remove tumour cells but this treatment ceases to be effective after two or three years and the cancer develops further. Once this stage of the disease has been reached, there is no cure. A team headed by Xavier Salvatella, ICREA researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB), including the participation of Gianni de Fabritiis, ICREA researcher and head of the Computational Biophysics group of GRIB,  has discovered a new avenue through which to attack prostrate cancer cells that have developed drug-resistance. Published in the journal Structure, part of the Cell group, the study opens up new therapeutic avenues against a disease that causes 75,000 deaths a year in Europe alone (source: European Science Hub, 2015).

Reference article: De Mol E, Szulc E, Di Sanza C, Martínez-Cristóbal P, Bertoncini CW, Fenwick RB, Frigolé-Vivas M, Masín M, Hunter I, Buzón V, Brun-Heath I, García J, De Fabritiis G, Estébanez-Perpiñá E, McEwan IJ, Nebreda ÁR, Salvatella X. Regulation of androgen receptor activity by transient interactions of its transactivation domain with general transcription regulators.  Structure (2017)

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Genes identified that distinguish mammals from other animals

Researchers from GRIB (IMIM-UPF) have analysed the genome of 68 mammals, including our own species

What distinguishes Homo sapiens from other living beings? And the group of mammals? What makes them different? These are the questions that researchers from GRIB and UPF have been trying to answer. To do this, they analysed the already-sequenced genomes of 68 mammals and identified 6,000 families of genes that are only found in these animals. These are genes with no homologues outside mammals, in other words, they are not present in other hairless species. In humans, it is estimated that they represent 2.5% of the genes that code for proteins. The work was led by Dr. José Luis Villanueva-Cañas, a member of the Evolutionary Genomics group of GRIB and currently a researcher at the Evolutionary Biology Institute (UPF-CSIC), and Dr. Mar Albà, ICREA researcher and head of the Evolutionay Genomics group of GRIB. The study also involved Dr. David Andreu's group from the UPF's Department of Experimental and Health Sciences. It has been published in the journal Genome Biology and Evolution.

Reference article: Villanueva-Cañas JL, Ruiz-Orera J, Agea MI, Gallo M, Andreu D; Alba MM. New Genes and Functional Innovation in Mammals. Genome Biology and Evolution, 2017; 9, 1886-1900. DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evx136

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Thesis lecture of Gerard Martínez: Applications of molecular dynamics in drug discovery and technology transfer via a web-based platform

Next wednesday, 20th of December at 12h, Gerard Martínez from the Computational Biophysics group of GRIB will defense his thesis "Applications of molecular dynamics in drug discovery and technology transfer via a web-based platform" at the Ramón y Cajal room at the ground floor of the PRBB building. You are all invited to this event.

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Thesis lecture of Alba Gutiérrez-Sacristán: "A bioinformatics approach to the study of comorbidity. Insight into mental disorders"

Next friday 15th of December at 11h, Alba Gutiérrez-Sacristán from the Integrative Biomedical Informatics group of GRIB will defense her thesis "A bioinformatics approach to the study of comorbidity. Insight into mental disorders" at the Josep Marull room of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. You are all invited to this event.

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Thesis lecture of Oriol López Massaguer: "Development of informatic tools for extracting biomedical data from open and proprietary data sources with predictive purposes"

Next thursday 14th of December at 11.30, Oriol López Massaguer from the PharmacoInformatics group of GRIB will defense his thesis: "Development of informatic tools for extracting biomedical data from open and proprietary data sources with predictive purposes" at the Classroom number 61.346-348, placed at the third floor of the Doctor Aiguader building (Dr. Aiguader 80, Barcelona). You are all invited to this event.

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How fast could dinosaurs move?

A new pedagogical and communicative tool for the youngest audience

How fast could dinosaurs move? How can we know the size of sauropods with the measurements of their femur? What methods are there to calculate the weight of dinosaurs? These are some of the doubts that can be solved with an app for mobile devices designed by the lecturer Antonio Monleón-Getino, from the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the University of Barcelona, in collaboration with Biel Stela from the PharmacoInformatics group of GRIB (IMIM-UPF).

This app will be a new pedagogical and communicative tool to help the youngest audience to discover some of the hidden secrets of the fossilized skeleton of one of the most known dinosaurs which created great inspiration in the field of cinema and contributed to create its legend: the Tyrannosaurus Rex. 

This collaboration with the researchers Antoni Monleón-Getino and Biel Stela is part of the scientific advice promoted by the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont for the exhibition "T. Rex. La Trix, el tiranosaure més ben conservat del món", in CosmoCaixa (Barcelona).  

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Innovación abierta para mejorar la evaluación de la seguridad de los medicamentos

La prestigiosa revista científica Nature Reviews Drug Discovery acaba de publicar un comentario donde se muestran los excelentes resultados del proyecto eTOX que ha permitido un nuevo modelo de colaboración de las industrias farmacéuticas entre sí y también entre estas y el mundo académico, en el que se comparten datos y conocimientos con el fin de mejorar la evaluación toxicológica de los fármacos.

Más allá de los resultados obtenidos, que son extremadamente valiosos, el proyecto es un modelo de innovación abierta -Open Innovation- dónde diferentes actores públicos y privados se alían y colaboran activamente. 

"Con el proyecto eTOX hemos empezado vislumbrar el potencial de estos datos para construir modelos predictivos capaces de predecir efectos in vivo. Sin embargo, hay que incorporar efectos toxicodinámicos y analizar hasta qué punto los datos experimentales y las predicciones son extrapolables al ser humano. Con esta finalidad acabamos de iniciar el nuevo proyecto eTRANSAFE" explica Ferran Sanz, coordinador del proyecto y Director del GRIB (IMIM - UPF).

Un valor añadido del proyecto eTOX es el desarrollo de tecnologías que facilitan la transferencia de resultados de investigación a las empresas y la generación de resultados sostenibles, que pueden continuar siendo utilizados más allá de la finalización del proyecto.

Artículo de referencia: "Legacy data sharing to improve drug safety assessment: the eTOX project" Ferran Sanz, François Pognan, Thomas Steger-Hartmann, Carlos Díaz and eTOX (including Manuel Pastor). Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 2017.

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Graphic abstract of the article - Cell Reports


Alternative splicing, an important mechanism for understanding cancer

Using data for more than 4,000 cancer patients from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA project), a team led by Eduardo Eyras, ICREA research professor at the UPF and head of the Computational RNA Biology group of GRIB (IMIM-UPF) jointly with the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute in San Diego has analyzed the changes in alternative splicing that occur in each tumor patient and studied how these changes could impact the function of genes. The results of the study, published in the journal Cell Reports, show that alternative splicing changes lead to a general loss of functional protein domains, and particularly those domains related to functions that are also affected by genetic mutations in cancer patients.

"Thanks to our previous research, we know that tumor type and stage can be predicted by observing alterations in alternative splicing", says E.Eyras, and adds, "with this new study, we have discovered that changes in alternative splicing that occur in cancer impact protein functions in a way that is similar to that previously described for genetic mutations".

Reference work: Climente-González, Héctor, Eduard Porta-Pardo, Adam Godzik, Eduardo Eyras. "The Functional Impact of Alternative Splicing in Cancer". Cell Reports, 2017; 20 (9): 2215-2226.

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40 Million EUR european project for new drug safety assessment and integrative data analysis research

The five-year project eTRANSAFE: Enhancing Translational Safety Assessment through Integrative Knowledge Management, aims to develop an advanced data integration infrastructure together with innovative computational methods to improve the security in drug development process and is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI 2) together with the pharmaceutical industry.

The eTRANSAFE consortium is a private and public partnership of 8 academic institutions, 6 SMEs and 12 pharmaceutical companies, and is coordinated by the Fundació Institut Mar d'Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM) and led by the pharmaceutical company Novartis. Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Synapse Research Management Partners are partners of the Consortium. 

Based on the experience gained in the previous eTOX project, the eTRANSAFE project will carry out key efforts in the field of data standardisation and quality control, promoting the development and implementation of relevant data sharing policies and procedures that will have a great global impact in the community. eTRANSAFE will catalyse the transformation of drug safety modelling from monolithic applications and isolated data repositories to an open innovation ecosystem based on open standards, modular components and data integration services.

Professor Ferran Sanz, coordinator of the project said: "eTRANSAFE will improve translational safety assessment and contribute to the key scientific policies, such as the reduce, replace, refine (3Rs) one and the FAIR principles for data sharing."

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El GRIB participa en el Whitepaper sobre análisis de la estrategia Big Data en España

La publicación describe el panorama español del Big Data analizando el estado actual de la investigación, las infraestructuras y las tecnologías existentes en España para identificar los puntos fuertes y los espacios de mejora. El documento recoge el trabajo de recopilación realizado hasta la fecha y el análisis posterior, de cara a identificar proyectos prioritarios y potenciar y difundir el valor existente.  Miguel Ángel Mayer, investigador postdoctoral del Grupo de Informatica Biomédica Integrada del GRIB (IMIM-UPF) es uno de los autores de este whitepaper

La publicación se ha realizado en el marco de la iniciativa nacional multisectorial "Big Data", que surge para dar respuesta a una creciente demanda y expectativas en este dominio. Ha sido promovida por Planetic, la Plataforma Tecnológica Española de las Tecnologias de la Información y la Comunicación.

Dentro del marco Europeo que promueve la creación de un mercado único de datos, se trata en definitiva, de posicionar a España al mismo nivel de la iniciativa europea, descubriendo y dando soluciones a las oportunidades de negocio existentes en torno al Big Data.

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