Infections and Cancer Biology Group
The main goal of the research of the Infections and Cancer Biology Group (ICB) is the characterization of the role of human viruses in cancer development, using two complementary strategies:
- Functional studies to characterize the biological properties of specific infectious agents using in vitro and in vivo model systems; and
- Collaborative epidemiological studies to evaluate the contribution of infections to several types of human cancers using a broad spectrum of laboratory assays.
With regard to the functional studies, ICB’s research is focused on the characterization of the biological properties of oncoproteins from several human viruses, with a particular focus on cutaneous beta human papillomavirus (HPV) types and their ability to deregulate the pathways involved in cellular proliferation and immune response, which are considered to be key events in virus-mediated carcinogenesis. Some of ICB’s studies have led to the proposal of a novel model of virus-driven carcinogenesis in cooperation with environmental factors, in which the viral proteins act at an early stage of cellular transformation but become dispensable after full cancer development.
With regard to the epidemiological studies, ICB’s efforts are focused on the development of highly sensitive diagnostic assays for many infectious agents. These assays have led to the establishment of several internal and external collaborative epidemiological studies. In addition, ICB has developed new protocols based on next-generation sequencing technologies for the analysis of viromes in human specimens and the isolation of novel viruses.