Instituto de Neurosciencias, Unidad de Neurobiología del Desarrollo, Alicante, Spain
Maria studies processes fundamental to biological development, which are also relevant to cancer. Signaling pathways that govern the sophisticated orchestration of cells during embryonic growth are implicated in many kinds of cancer. Her team uses the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, to figure out how signaling pathways function in eye and blood development. Such pathways are very similar in all organisms so fly research teaches us a lot about humans.
The group is interested in the role of a signaling pathway called Notch in human disease. The activity levels of this pathway vary in different body tissues. It has often been observed that Notch is overactive in cancers, although this is not true for all cancers. In contrast, Notch is underactive in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. So understanding how the pathway is controlled may lead to new therapeutic approaches.
The Instituto de Neurociencias de Alicante (INA) is a joint research unit (JRU) of the University Miguel Hernández de Elche (UMH) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). The Institute has around 50 researchers employed in the field of neuroscience. The INA is part of European Neuroscience Institutes (ENI)-NET, a network of European research institutions in the field of neurosciences committed to the promotion of scientific excellence across Europe.