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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

The effect of antitumour penetrating peptides based on connexin-43 in the selective metabolic reprogramming of human glyoma stem cells

Lead Researcher:
Aránzazu Tabernero Urbieta

Research Centre:
Instituto de Neurociencias de Castilla y León. Universidad de Salamanca.


Aránzazu Tabernero UrbietaGlyomas are the most common cerebral tumour and generally have a very poor prognosis. In spite of major advances in surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the average life expectancy of patients diagnosed with malign glyoma is no longer than 18 months. These tumours contain a subpopulation of cells known as glyoma stem cells or initiators. They are thought to be responsible for the recurrence of glyomas, as they have a high oncogenic potential and are resistant against chemo- and radiotherapy. Unlike the rest of glyoma, these cells survive in unfavourable environments because they reprogram their metabolism, increasing the expression of, among others, the carrier with a high affinity for glucose, GLUT3. In fact, the elimination of GLUT3 reduces the tumorigenicity of glyoma stem cells, so that it has become an interesting therapeutic strategy. Nevertheless, acting on GLUT3 in glyoma cells without affecting the neurons, which use the same carrier, is highly complex. We recently described how penetrating peptides based on the interaction between connexin-43 and c-Src specifically reverse, the phenotype of glyoma stem cells, as they reduce the expression of stem cell markets such as Sox-2 or Id1, reducing the formation of neurospheres and increasing the expression of cell differentiation markers. The general aim of this project is to determine whether these penetrating peptides or their derivatives reverse the metabolic reprogramming of glyoma stem cells, which is of key importance for tumour progression, without affecting the metabolism of healthy cells in the brain.

Researcher's web address:

Aránzazu Tabernero Urbieta

Graduate (1989) and Doctor of Pharmacy (1993) with Extraordinary Honours, University of Salamanca. She is Tenured Professor, accredited as Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Biology Faculty of the University of Salamanca. She has performed research in prestigious centres such as University College London, the Collège de France and currently in the Instituto de Neurociencias de Castilla y León (INCYL). She is the author of more than 50 papers in prestigious international journals, has taken part in the description of oleic acid as a neurotrophic factor synthesised by astrocytes, and the role of astrocyte communicating connections in the distribution of glucose in the brain. Her research currently centres on the study of major CNS pathologies such as glyomas, the most common cerebral tumours. She has directed 16 Doctoral theses, is a reviser in many journals and is a member of the Plos One group of editors. She has taken part in the organisation of outstanding national and international conferences, and is a member of several scientific societies, such as SENC or SEBBM, where she was a member of its Board of Directors. Lastly, she has occupied several posts in academic administration, and is currently Vice director of the Instituto de Neurociencias de Castilla y León (INCYL).

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