Shedding light on metastasis in the brain

Researchers have shown for the first time that ion channels that are capable of detecting changes in the physical properties of the cellular environment play a key role in tumor invasion and metastasis.

The discovery, led by led by Miguel Angel Valverde from the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the UPF and involving IBEC’s Integrative Cell and Tissue Dynamics group, could open new avenues in the development of new drugs that reduce the risk of metastasis.

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Oxidation necessary for recovery after spine injuries

Researchers at IBEC, in collaboration with Imperial College London, have discovered that oxidizing species – chemicals such as peroxides that form during the metabolism of oxygen – regulate the regeneration of damaged neurons after spinal cord injuries.

Anti-inflammatories and antioxidants: these are the treatments usually given to nerve or spinal injury patients to mitigate the damage. When a nerve is injured, inflammation occurs and the immune system is activated,

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A mechanism that regulates neurogenesis in the adult brain

Scientists from IBEC’s Molecular and Cellular Neurobiotechnology group have discovered a protein and its receptor that control the spread of adult stem cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.

The discovery could shed light on the mechanisms involved in memory, the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers, or in the development of brain tumors caused by the uncontrolled proliferation of various cell types.

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Obesity study on front cover of Proteomics – Clinical Applications

Researchers working at the Signal and Information Processing for Sensing Systems group and at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences have published a study selected as the front cover of a special issue of the journal Proteomics: Clinical Applications.

The paper, whose first author is PhD student Sergio Oller, identifies proteins associated with weight loss and maintenance, and explores their relation to body mass index, fat mass, and insulin resistance and sensitivity, identifying potential biomarkers for weight loss and maintenance.

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A material that encourages blood vessels to form

In a further step forward in their quest to achieve functional biomaterials for tissue regeneration, IBEC’s Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group has revealed a new construct that enhances blood vessel formation and maturation in vivo.

In the paper published in Acta Biomaterialia at the end of last year, the group and their collaborators at the Georgia Institute of Technology present a new implantable hydrogel that contains both human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) and calcium-releasing microparticles.

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How perception shapes our actions

Last Saturday, another “Classico” saw Messi and Ronaldo display their other-worldly skills and ball control. At the heart of their performance stands the amazing ability to control their bodies in anticipation of the movements of their team members, opponents – and especially the football.

These anticipatory motor actions are essential for sport, but also underlie our everyday behavior, from walking or grasping to riding a bicycle or typing on a keyboard. But how exactly are these actions controlled?

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A molecular mechanism could explain how bacteria resist antibiotics

IBEC researchers have shown for the first time how bacteria make DNA under stressful conditions, such as drug treatments.

This new knowledge could help develop new antibiotics that work, tackling the urgent problem of antibiotic resistance.

The Bacterial infections: antimicrobial therapies group led by Dr. Eduard Torrents was studying the bacterial strain Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause severe chronic lung infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, leading to severely impaired lung function, an increased risk of respiratory failure, and death.

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Enzyme-powered nanomotors deliver anti-cancer drugs more efficiently

IBEC researchers have demonstrated that their enzyme-powered nanobots show a marked improvement in drug delivery efficiency over passive ones.

The Advanced Functional Materials paper is the result of two years of work at IBEC, where Samuel Sanchez’s group has been experimenting with enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomotors. By consuming biocompatible fuels, these nanoparticles can then be used for biomedical applications such as targeted drug delivery to cancer cells.

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Cells feel their environment to explore it

The way cells find their way around is by ‘groping’ rather than seeing their surroundings: this is the main conclusion of a study published in Nature last week involving several IBEC groups and their collaborators.

“We determined how cells detect the position of molecules (or ligands) in their environment with nanometric accuracy,” explains Pere Roca-Cusachs, group leader at IBEC and assistant professor at the University of Barcelona, who led the study. “By adhering to the ligands, the cells apply a force they can detect. As this force depends on the spatial distribution of the ligands, this allows the cells to ‘feel’ their surroundings. It’s like recognizing somebody’s face in the dark by touching it with your hand, rather than seeing the person.”

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