Three research teams from the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), led by Drs Antonio Agudo, Genevieve Buckland and Sara Kozma, have been selected by La Marató de TV3 Foundation to receive part of the 9.4 million collected in the last edition of the program, dedicated to the two most common metabolic diseases in Catalonia, diabetes and obesity. The award ceremony, which took place yesterday at the Academy of Medical Sciences and Health of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, was attended by the 57 researchers who will carry out the 34 projects funded by La Marató 2015.
The research project “Controlling weight and reducing obesity through dietary intervention and physical activity in breast cancer survivors“, led by Dr. Agudo, will provide greater insight into efficacy of lifestyle changes in order to improve the future of women affected by breast cancer. Researchers want to do it by demonstrating the relationship between this disease and diet, physical activity and excess fat, three factors that could become the first predictive markers of women at greater risk. This is a particularly innovative project, as there are no results on the combined effect of diet and physical activity on breast cancer recurrence. On the other hand, lifestyle recommendations that will be arise from the results of the study will be made available to all citizens, specially to organizations that have direct contact with women who have suffered the disease.
On the other hand, the project “Chrono-nutrition and chronotype and its relationship with obesity and type II diabetes in the study of a Spanish cohort“, led by Dr. Buckland, investigates chrono-interruption (misalignment between biological natural body cycles and environmental signals, due to our current eating and sleeping patterns) as a new source of knowledge about the causes of obesity, type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, beyond traditional risk factors. The project aims to help further clarify the complex mechanisms involved in these disorders and provide new effective preventive measures for public and general patient treatment strategies.
Dr. Kozma leads the project “Reducing Obesity: Anti-S6K1 Therapy“, focusing on the study of ribosomal protein S6 kinase 1 (S6K1). This protein plays a critical role in early adipogenesis (fat formation), which is the main cause of obesity. Therefore, the research team wants to find out if a therapy based on direct inhibitors of S6K1 could serve as a potential therapeutic route against this disease. On the other hand, previous studies have shown that S6K1-mediated phosphorylation correlates with Body Mass Index (BMI), which could be used as a potential biomarker for obesity. Thus, this project could lead to the development of diagnostic biomarkers and anti-obesity drugs.
The 57 teams awarded in this call from La Marató Foundation come from the main research centers of Catalonia – in some cases coordinated with Spanish and international teams – and will work during the next three years in the search for new ways of prevention, prognosis and treatment of these diseases. Of all selected projects, 18 are unitary and 16 are coordinated between two or more research institutions.