Dr. Bruno Sainz is a Ramón y Cajal Researcher, with co-appointments in the Department of Biochemistry at the Autónoma University of Madrid (UAM), the Department of Cancer Biology at the Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas (IIB) “Alberto Sols” CSIC-UAM and in the Chronic Diseases and Cancer Area of the Ramón y Cajal Institute for Health Research (IRYCIS). Dr. Sainz obtained his PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, USA in 2005, and began working on cancer in 2011 after joining the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) as a Staff Scientist. He currently heads the Cancer Stem Cells and Tumor Microenvironment group, which focuses on the study of cancer stem cells (CSCs) and the fibroinflammatory microenvironment in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), the 4th leading cause of cancer related deaths in developed countries.
CSCs constitute a biologically unique subset of stem-like cells within the bulk tumor cell population. These cells are believed to be important in metastasis and chemoresistance, and they are hypothesized to be key drivers of the multistep process of oncogenesis. His lab is running a combined basic and translation research program, which synergistically combines studies on the biology of mouse and human CSCs, including their in vivo microenvironment, in order to enhance our understanding of the regulatory machinery of CSCs. Specifically, the avenues of research that Dr. Sainz’s laboratory is pursuing are:
- The identification and characterization of new biomarkers for the detection of CSCs from different solid tumors.
- The identification of proteins that govern key CSC phenotypes, such as “stemness”, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), oxidative phosphorylation (i.e. mitochondrial respiration) and chemoresistance.
- Comprehensive understanding of the cellular make-up of the CSC niche and the larger more complex tumor microenvironment, specifically the role of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in promoting CSCs, with respect to the different environmental proteins they can secrete in response to cues from the tumor and how these proteins alter the function of the CSCs at the level of EMT and chemoresistance.
The group is using state of the art in vitro (primary PDAC cultures) and in vivo (patient-derived xenograft and genetically engineered mouse models) systems along with cutting edge technologies, such as acoustic flow cytometry, to better understand the role of CSCs in cancer.
Work Group: Translation Research (wg3)