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Mitochondria, ageing and cancer

6 Sep 18




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A project headed by Antonio Zorzano at IRB Barcelona has been awarded funding from the BBVA Foundation to explore a possible link between ageing and cancer.

Called MitoFuss, the project focuses on the mitochondrial protein Mitofusin 2.

The BBVA Foundation’s Grants for Research Teams in Biomedicine seek to promote highly innovative investigation projects with the potential to unlock significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In the last call, six projects have each been granted 125,000€ of funding over three years.  The project entitled “Identification of a novel mechanism of metabolic reprogramming and analysis of its implications in cancer and in aging”, presented by researchers with the Complex Metabolic Diseases and Mitochondria Lab at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona), is among those selected for funding.

Both ageing and cancer are characterised by metabolic dysfunction, and in some circumstances it has been reported that glucose is replaced by glutamine as a source of energy. This dysfunction involves mitochondria—cell organelles responsible for the generation of most cell energy and for the synthesis of biomolecules. In this regard, the project aims to determine the role of the mitochondrial fusion protein Mitofusin 2 in the metabolic programming that occurs in a variety of cell contexts.

“The basic hypothesis of the project is that the underlying basis of the metabolic alterations present in a range of pathological conditions such as ageing and insulin resistance is similar to the metabolic changes observed in tumour cells,” explains Antonio Zorzano. “If successful, the project will identify Mitofusin 2 as a therapeutic target for both metabolic disorders and cancer,” he says.

In addition to Antonio Zorzano, the project team comprises Juan Pablo Muñoz, Montserrat Romero, and David Sebastián, all researchers at IRB Barcelona, the University of Barcelona, and CIBERDEM.

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About IRB Barcelona

Created in 2005 by the Generalitat de Catalunya (Government of Catalonia) and University of Barcelona, IRB Barcelona is a Severo Ochoa Centre of Excellence, a seal that was awarded in 2011. The institute is devoted to conducting research of excellence in biomedicine and to transferring results to clinical practice, thus improving people’s quality of life, while simultaneously promoting the training of outstanding researchers, technology transfer, and public communication of science. Its 28 laboratories and eight core facilities address basic questions in biology and are orientated to diseases such as cancer, metastasis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and rare conditions. IRB Barcelona is an international centre that hosts 400 employees and more than 30 nationalities. It is located in the Barcelona Science Park. IRB Barcelona is a CERCA center, and a member of the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST).