Proteins and carbohydrates (sugars) interaction plays an essential role in several cellular processes, such as cell proliferation and differentiation, as well as in different diseases, including viruses, bacteria and parasites infections. To perform these specialized functions, some types of carbohydrates bind to proteins creating complex structures called glycoproteins, which are found on the surface of cells and which influence cellular communication. Glycobiology is a discipline that studies the structure and function of carbohydrates as entities linked to cell function.
Our laboratory is focused on the identification and study of some alterations of glycosylation in cancer. Altered glycosylation produces some structures that are tumour-specific. Against them, we generate different types of biotechnological developments in view of their biomedical application. Our lines of research are oriented to understand characteristics of tumour biology and, especially, to develop new molecular procedures in view of their application to the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
Human colon cancer identified by anti-Trypanosoma cruzi antibodies.
Left: Malignant colon tumour (positive)
Right: Adjacent normal colonic mucosa (negative)
|Nora Berois, MD-PhD
|Álvaro Pittini, PhD
|Viviana Cardozo, MSc
|Ruben Azar Scarone
On biopharmaceuticals, the focus of study of the laboratory, we have developed specific kits and analytical methodologies base on requests from productive sector. Some of the projects that we are working on are:
Anti-TN antibody engineering in molecular imaging and cancer immunotherapy.
Using different recombinant antibodies and fragments of them, we found that the Tn antigen is a molecular target of interest for the diagnosis and treatment of human tumours. We develop fragments of antibodies (scfv, minibodies and nanobodies) for their application in molecular imaging. We also investigated the development of immuno-nanoparticles to direct drugs towards tumours.
O-glycosylation enzymes as predictive and predictive biomarkers in oncology.
We evaluated whether the expression of GalNAc-Ts enzymes, which catalyse the first stage of O-glycosylation, can influence the biological properties of cancer cells (invasiveness, chemo-resistance, etc.), to subsequently develop useful diagnostic procedures in clinical oncology.
Anti-tumour immunotherapy using parasite molecules.
We found that some cancer-specific glyco-antigens are also expressed in certain parasites. We observed that immunization with extracts of Trypanosoma cruzi and Echinococcus granulosus induces anti-tumour immune responses in animal models. We seek to elucidate the molecular and cellular bases of this type of immune responses in order to generate a new type of anti-tumour therapeutic strategy.
International course “Glycobiology and Cancer: from Chemistry to Clinical applications”. Nov 29–Dec 7, 2013. Organisers: Eduardo Osinaga and Nora Berois.
International course “Progress in Molecular oncology and its clinical impact”. May 2-6, 2016. Organisers: Eduardo Osinaga, Nora Berois and Mario Varangot.
International course “Progress in Molecular oncology and its clinical impact”. Nov 27- Dec 1, 2017. Organisers: Eduardo Osinaga, Nora Berois, Luis Ubillos and Gabriel Krygier.
2018-2020 – “Cancer immunotherapy using molecules of Trypanosoma cruzi”. Funded by: ANII-GSK. Responsible: Eduardo Osinaga.
2018-2012 – “Cancer Immunotherapy using parasites molecules”. Funded by: María Viñas Fund, ANII, Uruguay. Responsible: Eduardo Osinaga
Immune-nanoparticles in cancer treatment Project. Responsibles: Eduardo Osinaga and Alvaro Mombrú.
2016-2017 – “Linking qualified diaspora with intensive sectors in knowledge, technology and innovation of Uruguay”. BID-MIEM Project. ATN/KF-13883-UR
2015-2018 – “Cancer molecular imaging with anti-Tn tumour antigen antibodies produced by genetic engineering”. Responsible: Eduardo Osinaga. ANII I+I (co-funded by: De Larrobla y asociados).
2015-2019 – “Immunity and cancer”. Funded by: Programa Grupos de Investigación, CSIC-UdelaR, Uruguay. Responsible: Eduardo Osinaga.
Hubert-Haddad P, Amigorena S, Sastre-Garau X, Osinaga E, Pritsch O, Oppezzo P, Perez F, Moutel S. An antibody specific for the Tn antigen for the treatment of cancer.
European Patent WO/2009/007222 (2009)