Appointment of Josep Saura, Group leader
Biomedical research is the best way to expand the knowledge that, sooner or later, will bring improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases

Current research

Problem

Glial cells are essential for the proper functioning of neurons. When there is some type of alteration in the nervous system, glial cells organise a coordinated response to try to solve or minimise the problem. This response is very similar to inflammatory reactions (neuroinflammation). Although essentially a protective solution, if it is too intense or too prolonged in time it can cause damage to the nervous tissue. There is a wealth of scientific evidence demonstrating that neuroinflammation is involved in the progression of most neurological diseases.

Approach

The group’s main objective is to contribute to the discovery of strategies to reduce the harmful effects of neuroinflammation in human diseases. To achieve this, it is working on: the development of new tools to study neuroinflammation; the identification of the elements of the neuro-inflammatory response responsible for its harmful effects; and the discovery of therapeutic strategies that inhibit harmful elements of the neuro-inflammatory response or enhance beneficial ones.

Impact

The group has developed new methods to cultivate the main cell types in neuroinflammation (microglia and astrocytes) and new methods to co-activate neurons with microglia that allow it to study, in culture, the neurotoxic role of the neuro-inflammatory response.

It is working to determine the role played by various microglia cell proteins (the C/EBPs and the CD200/CD200R1 system) in the neuro-inflammatory response. That is why it is designing experiments that enable it to establish whether these proteins can serve as therapeutic targets for new drugs that are capable of inhibiting the neuro-inflammatory response.