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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

The AMPK enzyme, a nexus joined metabolism and cancer. A new therapeutic strategy in cerebral glyoblastomas

Lead Researcher:
Rosa Señarís Rodríguez

Research Centre:
CIMUS. Universidad de Santiago de Compostela.


Rosa Mª Señarís RodríguezAMP dependent kinase (AMPK) works as a sensor that monitors and maintains energy homeostasis. Although its metabolic function is very well-known, its possible role in cancer has yet to be elucidated. However, there are data that show this enzyme may play a key role in tumoral growth, readjusting cell metabolism to adapt it to oncogenic and metabolic stress, thereby permitting cancerous cells to survive and proliferate. Previous results in our group have shown that glyoblastomas, the main primary tumours of the nervous system, have high levels of AMPK, and that the oncogenic activation of this enzyme is indispensable for the proliferation of these tumoral cells. All of these factors make this molecule a key that could open new therapeutic windows in tumours of this type, for which there is still no effective treatment.

In this project we aim to gain further knowledge of the metabolic function of AMPK in glyoblastomas, under the hypothesis that their function will be of key importance in tumour transformation and progression. For this we will use astrocyte tumours in mice (with oncogenic Rasand/or Pten deletion), and human astrocyte tumours (glyoblastoma and patient tumour lines).

We set ourselves 3 specific objectives:

  1. To determine the role of AMPK in glyoblastoma metabolism. We will centre mainly on glucose metabolism / the Warburg effect, and on anabolic and lipid metabolism, as well as their relationship with hypoxia.
  2. To study the role of AMPK in the metabolic regulation, proliferation and differentiation of glyoblastoma stem cells (GSCs)
  3. To study AMPK inhibitors as new therapeutic strategies against glyoblastomas.

Rosa Mª Señarís Rodríguez

Professor of Physiology in the University of Santiago de Compostela and head researcher of the Neuroendocrinology, metabolism and cancer group of the Centro de Investigaciones en Medicina Molecular y enfermedades crónicas (CIMUS, Physiology Department) of the aforementioned University.

She took her Medical degree at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Prize for degree in Medicine and Surgery, Real Academia Nacional de Medicina. Fundación López Sánchez). She prepared her Doctoral thesis in the same university, in the Neuroscience Program under the direction of Professors Carlos Diéguez and Fernando Domínguez, in the field of hypothalamic regulation of somatic post-natal growth (Doctorate prize in Medicine and Surgery, Real Academia Nacional de Medicina. Fundación López Sánchez). After qualifying in 1990 as Doctor in Medicine, she had a postdoctoral stay in the Medical Research Council of Cambridge (UK), in the Neuroscience group directed by Dr. P.C. Emson, working with the then recently cloned somastatin receptors. She broadened her postdoctoral education in cellular and molecular neuroscience with visits to other research centres (Neuroscience Department, University of Aarhus, Denmark; Department of Medicine, McGill University, Montreal, Canada).

After 1994 she formed her research group in the Departamento de Fisiología de la University of Santiago de Compostela, where she continued her teaching and research career. Her projects have centred on different fields of neuroendocrinology: the regulation of somatic growth, control of food intake, metabolism and bodyweight. In recent years she has concentrated on studying the pathology of obesity, in the search for new therapeutic targets for this disease, together with the relationship between obesity, metabolism and cancer. All of her projects have been subsidised by public and private institutions (MEC, Xunta de Galicia, FISS, VI programa Marco, Fundación Mapfre, MCIN, etc.), and she is the author of more than 60 papers in international scientific journals, as well as articles in national journals and chapters in books.

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