Oncobell (Molecular Mechanisms and Experimental Therapy in Oncology) is a research program within IDIBELL focused on molecular mechanisms and experimental therapies in cancer that has the aim to fight cancer in a collective and multidisciplinary way. The research developed by the different research groups is coordinated by Dr. Ramon Salazar and covers most of the stages, from basic research to clinical application. Improving patient’s prognosis is a common goal that can be attempted either from a molecular level and signaling pathways, or through the definition of unresolved clinical needs for each disease. The interaction between these two approaches gives rise to better ideas and accelerates the process of transferring the laboratory to the clinic. The program organization also seeks to expand the network of contacts both internally and externally in order to optimize fundraising capabilities and the scientific impact of IDIBELL research.

The Oncobell program includes an array of groups that cover the stages from basic frontier research all the way to clinical treatments of the patients. There are 19 research teams in which are involved 76 major researchers to fight cancer in a multidisciplinary way. The teams are organized according to their objectives:


  • Clinical research in Solid Tumours: their goal is to transform ideas and hypotheses generated in the cancer-treatment environment into personalized therapies, clinical trials and translation projects.
  • Hematopoyetic and Lymphoid Tumours: their goal is to study different types of blood tumours, their characteristics and patient responses to the treatment.
  • Radiobiology & Cancer: their goal is to research the possibility of using ionizing radiation +/- drugs in cancer treatment.
  • Hereditary cancer: their goal is to provide genetic advice on cancer and molecular tests, focusing on improving healthcare for patients with a personal or family history of cancer.


  • Colorectal Cancer: their goal is to discover new mechanisms which lead to cancer progression and metastasis, and to clarify how these mechanisms contribute to the onset of treatment resistance.
  • Resistance and Progression Mechanisms in Prostate Cancer: their goal is to discover new mechanisms that lead to cancer progression and metastasis, and to clarify how these mechanisms contribute to the onset of treatment resistance.
  • Breast Cancer: their goal is to understand breast cancer development, the onset of subtypes and their therapeutic response/resistance.
  • Gynecologic Cancer Group: their goal is to work in collaboration with different areas of endometrial and ovarian cancer.
  • Sarcoma Research Group: their goal is to identify new metastatic markers and broaden the knowledge regarding their biological role in developing sarcomas, as well as identifying new therapeutic targets and validating new prognostic and predictive markers in sarcomas, through preclinical evaluation of new components for their treatment.
  • Neuro-Oncology Unit: their research is focussed on the treatment of brain tumours, cancer-related neurological complications and anticancer treatment.
  • Head and Neck Diseases: their goal is to study new therapeutic targets and predictive biomarkers that response to chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy, the role of the human papilloma virus (HPV) and the differential management of HPV+ tumours, transoral treatment of laryngeal cancer with CO2 laser and robotic surgery, reconstructive surgery and pharyngeal rehabilitation of laryngectomised patients.


  • Metabolism and Cancer: their goal is to focus on kinase signaling of the mammalian target rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) and its main metabolic cascade responses, including ribosome biogenesis, lysosomal transport and cell proliferation.
  • Cell Death Regulation: their goal is to research the mechanisms through which tumour cells die in response to different treatments, focusing on the glucose metabolism inhibition in particular.
  • Tumour Angiogenesis: their goal is to study the formation of new blood vessels from other pre-existing vessels, essential for tumour growth, tumour progression and the subsequent appearance of metastasis in other organs.
  • Cancer Virotherapy and Immunotherapy: their goal is to explore new anticancer treatments based on oncolytic adenoviruses.
  • Chemoresistance and predictive factors to tumour response and stromal microenvirontment: their goal is to experiment with mouse models in which a small piece of human tumour is implanted (implantation from one spices to another, xenograft) in the same organ of origin. It represents an excellent scientific tool for predicting patient response to chemotherapy treatment, and providing treatment alternatives based on scientific evidence.
  • Molecular Signaling in Cancer: their goal is to understand the mechanisms of signal transduction to explain how the alterations produced in many pathologies are controlled.
  • Apoptosis and Cancer: their goal is to study the mechanism of action of fluorizoline, a fluorate thiazoline compound, which is part of a new class of proapoptotic compounds and candidate to become an anticancer agent, which has been discovered and reported by the group.
  • TGF-beta and Cancer: their goal is to establish whether the TGF-β pathway is a therapeutic target in liver cancer and melanoma.

Some of the research programs previously mentioned are part of ProCURE, a joint research program composed of 10 research groups, with the mission of addressing a major clinical problem in oncology: therapeutic resistance. These groups focuses on the research of major cancer types and therapies, as well as critical but less frequent neoplasms. The research projects include chemo- and targeted resistances, novel approaches based on immunotherapy, metabolism and angiogenesis perturbations.

The philosophy of the program is to believe that increasing the communication within the different groups in the program will lead to better ideas and shortcuts in the transition between lab results into the clinics.

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