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From student trainee to doctor, via the PCB

By 22 de January de 2009November 18th, 2020No Comments
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From student trainee to doctor, via the PCB

This week one of the students who participated in the first editions of the practice programme –offered by the Barcelona Science Park (PCB) with the aim of bringing the world of research closer to the youth- and who, in addition, carried out his thesis at a laboratory of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine, in collaboration with the Bioengineering Institute of Catalonia and the company PharmaMar, organizations located at the PCB, has obtained his PhD. His story is an example of success and also demonstrates that the convergence of researchers of the public sector and companies facilitated by the PCB is a formula that favors team work and the development of projects that yield very good results.

For Daniel Pla, the student who has received his PhD, it is clear. The three months he spent carrying out practice work at the Park’s Almirall-PCB Mixed Unit under the guidance of researcher Pilar Forns were key in directing his professional trajectory towards the world of research. Hence, once he got his degree, he worked at one of the laboratories of the Molecular Chemistry and Pharmacology programme of the IRB Barcelona, where he began his thesis. Professor and researcher Mercè Álvarez, in collaboration with Fernando Albericio, have directed this work which consists of the synthesis of a natural product isolated from marine sponges –Lamellarin D- which has been proven to have antitumoural effect. Specifically, it inhibits certain enzymes related with cell growth called topoisomerases, which entails a halting of uncontrolled cell division and proliferation.

“It is a molecule that the company PharmaMar –with whom we have been working for years- has already patented and which presents a biologic activity and promising characteristics that enable it to be used as a therapeutic target in the treatment of cancer”, explains Mercè Álvarez. Studies assessing cell internalization and release of Lamellarin D have been carried out in collaboration with Rosa Aligué, professor and researcher of the School of Medicine of the University of Barcelona-IDIBAPS. Its effects have also been studied in human cell lines. The company PharmaMar and the director of R+D of this organization, Carmen Cuevas, have contributed to the performance of preliminary biological trials of this natural product and other analogs.

In order to test the action of the new molecule on DNA, Daniel explains that he was “lucky to work close to researcher Xavier Fernández Busquets, from the IBEC’s laboratory of Nanoengineering, since he put me in touch with Dario Anselmeti, a researcher of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) who works with “optical clamps”, and where I spent a period of time to complete my research project”. This technology enables DNA to be “trapped” between two microspheres and measure the force with which these are joined and the possible tension changes that are generated in different experimental situations.

The good results of Daniel’s four years of research have been published in eight specialised scientific journals that have high impact and international reach, such as the ones published by the American Chemistry Society.