Appointment of Xavier Gasull, Group leader
It is amazing to see how neurons are capable of detecting stimuli or transmitting information in the form of electrical activity. Understanding how they do this is not easy, but our curiosity keeps us moving forward

Current research

Problem

Chronic or genetic diseases alter the role of neurons: they increase excitability, which causes pain and chronic itching, or modifies the synapses, which causes mental retardation or other neurological disorders. It is necessary to understand firstly what changes occur at a molecular and functional level and, secondly, which ionic receptors or channels are involved, in order to know the disease. This is the first step towards developing the most appropriate and effective drugs and treatments.

Approach

The group is interested in understanding the molecular and functional bases of neuronal excitability and communication between neurons in normal and pathological conditions.

In sensory neurons, it studies which ion channels and receptors participate in the detection of painful and itchy stimuli, and how they are regulated during chronic pain and itching.

In glutamatergic neurotransmission, it studies the glutamate receptors and the proteins that regulate them, as well as the functional consequences of mutations in the neurological receptors.

Impact

The group has identified certain potassium channels in sensory neurons that regulate electrical activity and that are altered during neuropathic or migraine pain.

The goal is to find drugs that activate these channels as new analgesic treatments for pain and chronic itching. In addition, the study of mutations on glutamate receptors allows the group to understand the neurological disorders they produce, and to propose appropriate pharmacological treatments.