Epithelia are the tissues most frequently affected by cancer. Among them, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common cancer and one of the leading causes of cancer death (Ferlay et al., 2010; http://www.wcrf.org; https: //www.cancer.gov/; http://www.cancer.org; https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/). SCC typically appears in the stratified epithelia of the skin, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, cervix, but is also common in some simple epithelia such as the lung. It constitutes 20% of epithelial cancer in the skin, 90% in the head and neck, 20-80% in the esophagus, or 25-30% in the lung. It is usually aggressive and has a poor prognosis and treatment, except in the case of the skin where it is usually detected early and eliminated by surgery. Even so, in the skin, SCC metastasizes in 4-5% of cases (Karia et al., 2013). Only the head and neck SCC (HNSCC in English) causes around 200,000 deaths per year in the world (Ferlay et al., 2010). In Spain, about 12,000 cases are diagnosed each year (SEOM, 2014).
There is growing evidence that epidermoid epithelia could have a common regulation, and therefore common alterations would give rise to epidermoid carcinomas. These epithelia are continuously exposed to the action of mutagens such as ultraviolet light from the sun, alcohol or tobacco. For these reasons they need powerful cellular and molecular mechanisms. These mechanisms go through a correct control of Stem Cells and homeostasis. The main objective of our group is the investigation of these mechanisms and their alteration in hyperproliferative problems, fundamentally those that lead to cancer. We use and develop technologies in vitro, in situ and in vivo to study the different tissues and squamous carcinomas. We are currently studying common regulatory mechanisms in melanocytes. We seek to apply the knowledge generated through the reciprocal transfer between the laboratory (molecular mechanisms of the cell cycle), the industry (exploitation of the results) and the clinic (obtaining biopsies, characterization, monitoring, new diagnoses or therapies).
The main lines currently active are:
- Mechanisms of homeostasis of the epidermis and other epidermoid epithelia against genetic damage.
- Mechanisms of control of mitosis and epidermoid and melanocytic differentiation.
- Alterations of the control mitosis-differentiation in squamous cancer.
- In vitro applications for personalized medicine in: Stem cells. Cancer. Rare, hereditary diseases or developmental syndromes. Through the culture of primary cells of skin and mucosa (keratinocytes, melanocytes, fibroblasts).