Cell Cycle, Determining Stem Cells and Cancer

Group members Research lines Articles Projects Other publications

Epithelia are the tissues most frequently affected by cancer. Among them squamous cell squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most frequent 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 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 skin epithelial cancer, 90% in head and neck, 20-80% in esophagus, or 25-30% in lung. It is generally aggressive and has a poor prognosis and treatment, except in the case of the skin where it is usually detected early and removed by surgery. Even so, in the skin the SCC metastasizes in 4-5% of cases (Karia et al., 2013). Only the head and neck SCC (HNSCC) causes some 200,000 deaths a 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 lead to squamous cell carcinomas. These epithelia are continually exposed to the action of mutagens such as ultraviolet sunlight, alcohol or tobacco. For these reasons they need powerful cellular and molecular mechanisms. These mechanisms go through a correct control of the Stem Cells and homeostasis. The main objective of our group is the investigation of these mechanisms and their alteration in hyperproliferative problems, mainly those that lead to cancer. We use and develop technologies in vitro, in situ and in vivo to study different tissues and squamous carcinomas. We are currently studying common regulatory mechanisms in melanocytes. We seek to apply the knowledge generated by reciprocal transfer between the laboratory (molecular cell cycle mechanisms), 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, inherited or developmental syndromes. Through the cultivation of primary skin and mucosal cells (keratinocytes, melanocytes, fibroblasts).


Gobierno de Cantabria  Servicio Cántabro de Salud  Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla   Universidad de Cantabria    Instituto de Salud Carlos III 
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39011 Santander (CANTABRIA).

Phone.: 942 31 55 15
Fax: 942 31 55 17