Molecular Mechanisms of Tumorigenesis

Research group

Group Leader

Pilar Navarro Medrano

The objective of our group is the identification of different molecular mechanisms associated with human pathology, with special emphasis on tumor progression. In particular, we focus on the following:

1) Role of Galectin-1 in cancer and its possible use as a biomarker and/or therapeutic target for different tumors. Our in vitro and in vivo data have identified Gal-1 as a new therapeutic target for cancer. We are now translating these data to clinics, pursuing three major goals: i) exploring the diagnostic value of the detection of Gal-1 levels in biological samples from cancer patients; ii) determination of Gal-1 levels to predict response to cancer immunotherapy (taking into account the key role of Gal-1 in tumor immune evasion); iii) development of Gal-1 pharmacological inhibitors as a new cancer treatment.

2) Control of gene expression in human disease by CPEB-mediated mRNA translational regulation. Our previous data have shown the key contribution of CPEB4 to gene expression regulation in PDA and glioma (Ortiz-Zapater et al. Nat. Med, 2012). To determine the contribution of this mechanism as a general cancer gene-regulation process and its prognostic/diagnostic/therapeutic value in this disease, we plan to extend this study to a broad panel of tumors (glioma, breast, lung, colon, melanoma and others) and to look for inhibitory strategies by means of high throughput screening, to identify small molecules abrogating CPEB functions. Moreover, the contribution of other members of CPEB family to cancer and other pathological processes (such as neurodegeneration) will also be explored.



Francisco Alameda Quitllet (Researcher)

Silvia Geeraerd (Research Assistant)

Neus Martínez Bosch (Researcher)

Mireia Moreno Merino (Technician)

Judit Vinaixa Forner (PhD Student)


Main Publications

• Calderone V, Gallego J, Fernández-Miranda G, García-Pras E, Maillo C, Berzigotti A, Mejías M, Bava FA, Angulo-Urarte A, Graupera M, Navarro P, Bosch J, Fernández M, Méndez R. Sequential Functions of CPEB1 and CPEB4 Regulate Pathologic Expression of VEGF and Angiogenesis in Chronic Liver Disease. Gastroenterology 2016; 150(4): 982-997.e30. IF 18.187. Q1.

• Loubat J, Peña R, González N, Alba-Castellón L, Rosell S, Francí C, Navarro P, García de Herreros A. Snail1 is required for the maintenance of the pancreatic acinar phenotype. Oncotarget 2016; 7(4): 4468-4482. IF 5.008. Q1.

• Martínez-Bosch N, Guerrero PE, Moreno M, José A, Iglesias M, Munné-Collado J, Anta H, Gibert J, Orozco CA, Vinaixa J, Fillat C, Viñals F, Navarro P. The pancreatic niche inhibits the effectiveness of sunitinib treatment of pancreatic cancer. Oncotarget 2016; 7(30): 48265-48279. IF 5.008. Q1.

• Martínez-Bosch N, Fernández-Zapico ME, Navarro P, Yélamos J. Poly(ADP-Ribose) Polymerases: New Players in the Pathogenesis of Exocrine Pancreatic Diseases. Am J Pathol 2016; 186(2): 234-241. IF 4.206. Q1.

• Van der Putten LJ, Visser NC, van de Vijver K, Santacana M, Bronsert P, Bulten J, Hirschfeld M, Colas E, Gil-Moreno A, García A, Mancebo G, Alameda F, Trovik J, Kopperud RK, Huvila J, Schrauwen S, Koskas M, Walker F, Weinberger V, Minar L, Jandakova E, Snijders MP, van den Berg-van Erp S, Matías-Guiu X, Salvesen HB, Amant F, Massuger LF, Pijnenborg JM. L1CAM expression in endometrial carcinomas: an ENITEC collaboration study. Br J Cancer 2016; 115(6): 716-724. IF 5.569. Q1.

Ongoing Research Projects

• Clinical implications of Galectin-1 in genitourinary cancer: a role in diagnosis, prognosis and response prediction to immune checkpoint inhibitors

− AECC (Asociación Española Contra el Cáncer) Cataluña

− From 2016 to 2018

− Principal investigator: Navarro Medrano, Pilar


• Galectin-1: a new target for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic tools for pancreatic cancer

− Asociación Cáncer de Páncreas and Asociación Española de Pancreatología

− From 2016 to 2018

− Principal investigator: Navarro Medrano, Pilar


• New functions of Galectin-1 and CPEBs in cancer: role in stroma tissue remodelling, invason/metastasis and cellular pluripotency

− Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria. ISCIII (PI14/00125)

− From 2015 to 2017

− Principal investigator: Navarro Medrano, Pilar


• Identification of new targets in cancer from tissue plasminogen activator (tPA): Galectin-1 and CPEB4. Design of therapeutic strategies

− Fondo de Investigación Sanitaria. ISCIII (PI11/01562)

− From 2012 to 2016

− Principal investigator: Navarro Medrano, Pilar


• Gene expression profiling (GEP) of Glioblastoma, including long intergenic non-coding RNA (lincrna), in a homogeneous population: correlation with immunophenotype, radiology clinical outcome and response to therapy a multicenter study

− Fundació La Marató de TV3 (20130332)

− From 2014 to 2017

− Principal investigator: Alameda Quitllet, Francisco

Participation in Research Networks

• Red Temática de Investigación Cooperativa en Cáncer (RTICC)

− Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (FIS, ISCIII)

− From 2016 to 2017

− Principal investigator (node coordinator): Albanell Mestres, Joan

Group’s Recognitions

• Officially recognised as a consolidated research group by the Generalitat de Catalunya: Grup de Recerca Cellular and molecular mechanisms of disease (2014-2017)

− Agència de Gestió d'Ajuts Universitaris i de Recerca (SGR 143)

− Principal investigator: Navarro Medrano, Pilar


• Anta, Héctor. Characterization of the role of the CPEB family of RNA-binding proteins in neurodegeneration. Pompeu Fabra University

− Directors: Méndez, R; Navarro Medrano, Pilar

− Date of defense: 15/12/2016

C/ Doctor Aiguader, 88

08003 Barcelona

(+34) 93 316 04 00