Shedding light on metastasis in the brain

Researchers have shown for the first time that ion channels that are capable of detecting changes in the physical properties of the cellular environment play a key role in tumor invasion and metastasis.

The discovery, led by led by Miguel Angel Valverde from the Department of Experimental and Health Sciences of the UPF and involving IBEC’s Integrative Cell and Tissue Dynamics group, could open new avenues in the development of new drugs that reduce the risk of metastasis.

Cells feel their environment to explore it

The way cells find their way around is by ‘groping’ rather than seeing their surroundings: this is the main conclusion of a study published in Nature last week involving several IBEC groups and their collaborators.

“We determined how cells detect the position of molecules (or ligands) in their environment with nanometric accuracy,” explains Pere Roca-Cusachs, group leader at IBEC and assistant professor at the University of Barcelona, who led the study. “By adhering to the ligands, the cells apply a force they can detect. As this force depends on the spatial distribution of the ligands, this allows the cells to ‘feel’ their surroundings. It’s like recognizing somebody’s face in the dark by touching it with your hand, rather than seeing the person.”

Cell collisions reveal a new type of wave

Researchers at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) have observed, for the first time, mechanical waves that form after collisions between cellular tissues.

After a collision, cells are pushed and deformed into waves that travel at a speed of three millimeters a day. This unexpected behavior defies what we know about cellular dynamics, and could be relevant to understand embryonic development or metastasis.

Mechanical waves – such as seismic waves, sound, or waves in the sea – are a phenomenon easily explained by the laws of physics: when two particles collide, a wave travels through the surrounding material.

Ferrer, IBEC and Mind the Byte join forces to study new molecules against cancer metastasis

The study will take as a starting point the pioneering research conducted by IBEC’s Xavier Trepat on how cadherins interact in metastasis

The pharmaceutical company Ferrer has created a consortium with the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and the bioinformatics company Mind the Byte, located at the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), to study the development of new therapeutic molecules against cancer metastasis.

The work will follow the research on cadherin interaction and its role in cells that cause metastasis conducted by Dr. Xavier Trepat, ICREA professor at IBEC and one of the few scientists to have won three grants from the European Research Council (ERC).

IBEC’s Xavier Trepat a guest star at Big Vang’s first anniversary

Xavier Trepat, ICREA professor and group leader at IBEC, was the guest star at the first anniversary celebration of Big Vang, La Vanguardia’s online science section

bigvangAt the event on 7th June, where Xavier shared the stage with the director of IRB Joan Guinovart, the relationship between scientists and journalists was discussed – a relationship that can sometimes be a little illusive, as journalist Cristina Saez put it, referring to the disagreements that can arise between the two sides when explaining science to the public. Along with fellow journalist Núria Jar, she introduced questions to the invited guests.

Reaching new depths: a non-invasive solution for the activation of proteins in deep tissues

Researchers at IBEC and their collaborators at the Centre of Regenerative Medicine of Barcelona (CMR[B]) have developed a revolutionary new technique based on photoactivation (light activation), by which cells in deep tissue can activated and tracked in vivo without causing any damage.

Manipulating protein expression to monitor cell behavior is a powerful tool in the field of biology.