A study carried out by researchers from the Research programme on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) at IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) and the UPF has used new human genetic data to learn more about mutations that may have conferred a selective advantage to humans over the past 5 million years of evolution. This provides researchers with a new vision on human evolution.
The availability of the genetic variants in a large number of people, through initiatives such as the Project 1000 Genomes, is useful not only to understand the genetic basis of diseases, but also to carry out research on the human evolution. According to Mar Albà, an ICREA professor and the coordinator of the IMIM research group on Evolutionary Genomics “This variation provides us with a measure on the proportion of the amino acid changes seen typically in a protein while it maintains its function. Once we have this value, we can then count the differences with the ancestral protein in humans and chimpanzees and if we find there have been more changes than expected, this is because the function of the protein may have changed during human evolution”.
Researchers from IMIM (Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute) have identified a new protein, galectin-1, as a possible therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer. For the first time they have demonstrated the effects of the inhibition of this protein in mice suffering this type of cancer and the results showed an increase in survival of 20%. The work further suggests that it could be a therapeutic target with no adverse effects. This article will be published in the next edition of the Cancer Research journal, will be featured on the front page and will also be published as an author's view in OncoImmunology.
Until now, the strategies for treating this tumour were aimed at attacking the tumour cells and had little success. The latest studies indicate that trying to destroy what surrounds the tumour is possibly a better strategy. “Our contribution is directed toward this, as the reduction of galectin-1 mainly affects the immune system and the cells and structure that surrounds the tumour cells, which is called the stroma. Therefore, galectin-1 as a therapeutic target has great potential”, explains Dr. Pilar Navarro, co-ordinator of the research group on molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis of IMIM and director of the research.