Lung cancer causes over 1.3 million deaths annually and remains the deadliest type of cancer worldwide. Although efforts in recent years to fully characterize human cancer on a genetic and molecular level have provided important insights to increase our understanding of the gene alteration profile underlying the development of Lung Cancer, the impact of this knowledge in the survival of patients remains modest. Our group is devoted to the genetic, epigenetic and molecular study of the mechanisms that drive LC development. Ultimately, our purpose is to implement the clinical management of cancer patients and to design novel therapeutic strategies.
The complete genetic characterization of tumours is important to understand cancer development, promote the discovery of new drugs and improve the selection of patients that may benefit from a given cancer therapy. Our research uses the latest high-throughput sequencing technologies to create profiles and catalogues of the recurrently altered genes in cancer. We also have a keen interest in understanding the mechanisms by which the abnormal function of these genes contributes to cancer development.
Our laboratory is currently engaged in a number of important projects:
1. Screening for factors that determine tumour immunoescape and the response to immunotherapy. We have become increasingly interested in the study of those biological factors, which allow tumours to escape control of the immune system and determine the response to immunotherapy.
2. Genomic and genetic profiling of lung tumours to identify novel targets for therapeutics and determinants for the primary and acquired response to tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We use high-throughput genomic sequencing technologies, such as whole exome and RNA-sequencing, to gather information about the genetic background and gene expression profiles of lung tumours from both smokers and non-smokers.
3. Genetic alterations at epigenetic factors: biological understanding and opportunity for novel therapeutics. Over the past 15 years, our group has provided key information to understanding cancer biology. Currently, we are using high-throughput technologies to understand tumour development and to identify molecular vulnerabilities that can be used therapeutically.
Recent epidemiological data point to a worrying increase in the incidence of LC in those who have never smoked, particularly women. The reasons are not well understood, a fact that limits the design of prevention measures.
Through our research, we hope to answer the following questions:
1. What are the genetic and molecular abnormalities that trigger the development of cancer, particularly Lung Cancer?
2. How can we use genetic/molecular information to identify novel targets to implement Lung Cancer therapeutics?
3. What is the molecular basis for the lack of response to immunotherapy?
4. How can we predict and prevent acquired resistance to targeted therapeutics?