Appointment of José Carlos Fernández-Checa, Group leader
The fascination in understanding mitochondrial function and its regulation by structural lipids stimulates us to study its role in the onset and progression of complex human illnesses

Current research

Problem

The group focuses on the study of the role of lipids, such as cholesterol, in regulating the function of the organelles that supply energy to cells, i.e., the mitochondria.

Good mitochondrial function is essential for cell survival. That is why the laboratory investigates how variations in mitochondrial function affect the development of liver diseases, such as steatohepatitis and its progression towards liver cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Better knowledge of the biological mechanisms that control these diseases will allow the team to design better and more specific drugs.

Approach

The laboratory uses mice to investigate the cellular and molecular bases related to the progression of liver disease and Alzheimer's disease. And it applies therapeutic interventions to improve the final outcome of the disorder.

It is equipped with genetically modified mice that allow it to study what role different proteins play in specific liver cells. In addition, through an innovative mouse model with a liver repopulated with human cells, it can corroborate its results within a scenario that is more similar to that of the patient.

Impact

The group’s research explores the knowledge of the biological mechanisms that modulate mitochondrial function and how this modulation affects the progression of liver diseases and Alzheimer's disease.

One of the group’s most important discoveries has been how mitochondrial cholesterol influences the development of diseases of the liver and neuronal function. The various lines of research in the laboratory will allow it to better understand the biology of these conditions, in order to design new drugs or to reuse existing ones for treatment.