The Biomedical Magnetic Resonance group, with a clear preclinical vocation and a multidisciplinary composition, has the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and spectroscopy (MRS) as a common axis in the in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies. We focus especially on the study of central nervous system (CNS) pathologies, characterizing them at the morphological, functional and molecular levels, identifying biomarkers that can be used in the diagnosis and prognosis of the disease, as well as in the validation of therapies. Preclinical imaging, non-invasive and directly transferable to the clinical setting, can provide contributions in this sense unattainable by any other approach.
Our main lines of research are:
1) Study of the tumor microenvironment in animal models of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). GBM is the most prevalent primary brain cancer with the highest mortality rate, and a median survival of 14 months after diagnosis that has hardly changed in recent decades. It is crucial to develop new approaches by identifying therapeutic targets and biomarkers to validate them. In this line, we perform a multiparametric and multimodal evaluation (with MRI and MRS), to characterize the tumor microenvironment, validating the results with histological and genomic evaluation. The ultimate goal is to identify the radiomic-histologic-genomic interaction of high- and low-grade brain tumors growing orthotopically in animal models.
2) Identification of neuroinflammation biomarkers with MRI/MRS methodologies. Intra- and intervoxel overlap between the inflammatory regions and the surrounding tissues of cerebral pathologies currently hampers the precise evaluation of neuroinflammation and accurate lesion size measurements, as well as to validate treatment successful or identify therapeutical targets. We are working in the development and implementation of a nosologic imaging approach to evaluate quantitatively the neuroinflammatory component of cerebral pathologies in animal models.
3) Applications of multimodal imaging in personalized medicine. Immunotherapy is a promising recently emerging cancer treatment aimed to engage the native immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy has revolutionized the way of treating cancer showing very promising results. However, we do not have a methodology that allows us to predict the patients benefiting from them. We are developing a non-invasive approach to personalized immunotherapy to the tumor specific characteristics using a combination of multiple biomedical imaging as MRI, MRS, PET and bioluminescence.
4) Biophysical modeling of magnetic resonance signals in the brain and implementation of multivariate data analysis models. MR signals can be fitted to different mathematical expressions, which contributes to improving our understanding of the underlying biophysical processes, in physiological or pathological states. In our lab, we develop MATLAB and R tools to determine the best models fitting the MR data, including MRI multiexponential approaches and metabolic modelling of spectroscopy signals. We are additionally developing R-frameworks to provide multivariate assessment of MR and physiological parameters, providing an integrative characterization of disease development and treatment response.
5) Role of the hypothalamus and reward centers in feeding behavior and regulation of energy balance in the mouse brain by magnetic resonance imaging. The brain has a key role in controlling obesity and metabolic syndrome development, and MR techniques can detect important alterations during such processes. We are currently working in establishing an MR pipeline to characterize the brain changes underlying obesity development and treatment in a mouse model of diet-induced obesity, in order to provide tools with predictive value of treatment success.