Clinical and experimental neuroimmunology
- The principal objective of the neuroimmunology group is the study of inflammation of the central nervous system, and of the mechanisms that are involved in this inflammatory response, and their implication in neurological disorders - fundamentally multiple sclerosis, autoimmune encephalitis and paraneoplastic neurological disorders.
- Identification and characterization of factors implicated in the pathogenesis of gliomas, based on the study of proteins that control the maintenance, differentiation and migration of normal neural stem cells.
Main lines of research
- Study of autoimmune mechanisms in paraneoplastic neurological disorders.
- Synaptic autoimmunity study in encephalitis and other autoimmune diseases of the central nervous system.
- Development of biomarkers and new therapies in application to multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases.
- Functional imaging in neuroimmunology.
- Study of the molecular bases of glioma pathogenesis: Identification and functional characterization of new factors implicated in the maintenance, differentiation and/ or migration of neural stem cells, and study of the role of these factors in the initiation and invasion of gliomas.
Pathogenesis and new treatments in multiple sclerosis
The great challenge for our research team is to apply our discoveries to the clinical management of patients with multiple sclerosis. Our team is pioneering the application of Systems Medicine to the study of MS and development new tools for personalized medicine. As a result, we are developing new therapies for this disease such as the trophic factor like drug BN201 or the metabolite MTA, which are going to enter clinical phases next year. Also, we have developed new diagnostic tools such as molecular imaging of the retina, which are going to help in the monitoring of patient progression. As the coordinating team of the RETICS REEM (Spanish Multiple Sclerosis Network), another of our strategic objectives is the transverse diffusion of knowledge and optimum use of synergies, with a view to transferring the advances in research to the clinical practice setting and to patients. Lastly, the group has a constant commitment to innovation, both in terms of the generation of patents and as regards the creation of spin-off companies.
Advanced imaging in neuroimmunological diseases (ImaginEM)
The main objective of our team is to understand the basis of disease evolution in multiple sclerosis and other neuroimmunological diseases, through the use of advanced magnetic resonance techniques. We aim to identify imaging biomarkers of physical and cognitive disability and of response to conventional and new therapies. We also develop technical improvements in order to use them in the translational research to the patient. To achieve these goals we are using tools such as diffusion tensor imaging and multivoxel spectroscopy, sequences that are able to detect in vivo changes in neurological tissues.
Pathogenesis of autoimmune neuronal disorders
Our research is focused on a group of disorders at the intersection of autoimmunity, cancer and synaptic proteins. This includes the description of novel syndromes and associated immunemechanisms, isolation of the target antigens and development of diagnostic tests and treatment strategies. These studies have identified 17 auto-antigens and have generated a number of diagnostic tests, some of which are used worldwide. In 2014, we discovered two novel disorders: one is characterized by the presence of antibodies against the GABAaR; these patients develop encephalitis with prominent seizures and status epilepticus. The other is characterized by antibodies to IgLON5; this syndrome results in abnormal movements and sleep behaviour symptoms. For both disorders the diagnostic tests are in the process of being patented, In patients with encephalitis and symptoms of brain hyperexcitability. In addition, we recently started developing animal models of these disorders. Results of these studies have had an impact on many different medical and neuroscience disciplines, providing a link between immunological processes and neuronal functions involved in memory, behaviour, psychosis, epilepsy and neuronal degeneration.