Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas “Alberto Sols” – CSIC-UAM

Country: Spain


The Cancer Stem Cells and Tumor Microenvironment group at the IIBm, led by Dr. Sainz, focusses on CSCs in the context of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, the 4th leading cause of cancer related deaths in developed countries. The group 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.

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Main Task:

Our main research avenues include:

1) The identification and characterization of new biomarkers for the detection of CSCs from different solid tumors. We have recently discovered a new inherent biomarker present in CSCs across several solid tumors. This biomarker, known as autofluorescence, is the result of riboflavin accumulation in ABCG2-coated intracellular vesicles exclusively found in CSCs. We are currently using autofluorescence as a means of isolating CSCs for in depth biological and molecular characterization studies.

2) 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.

3) Comprehensively understand the cellular make-up of the CSC niche and the larger more complex tumor microenvironment, specifically the role of tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in "activating" 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.