- Molecular biology of colorectal cancer and the adenoma to carcinoma sequence.
A major field of interest for the lab is the molecular biology involved in the carcinogenic progress of colorectal cancer which is illustrated by the adenoma to carcinoma progression model. A more detailed understanding of the molecular biology of this sequence will provide with opportunities to develop targeted therapeutic interventions at different steps of the progress.
- Microsatellite instable colorectal cancers and Lynch Syndrome-related tumors.
The most frequent genetic syndrome predisposing to colorectal cancer is the Lynch Syndrome. Our research in the lab is focused on those patients diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome with the main goal of developing chemopreventive interventions for this high-risk population. In addition, a better understanding of the molecular biology of tumors arising on the basis of this genetic condition will provide us with insights on the sporadic version of Microsatellite Instable colorectal cancers. It is known that approximately 15% of sporadic colorectal cancers display Microsatellite Instability from the epigenetic silencing of MLH1. Therefore, there is also a potential impact on developing targeted therapeutic strategies for this colorectal tumor subtype.
- Targeted Chemoprevention and Therapeutics.
Dr. Vilar-Sanchez has participated in several clinical trials with targeted therapies, mainly against the EGFR and the mTOR pathway, but also with other small molecules targeting different kinases.
Based on this experience the lab will be developing research projects that look for biomarkers to predict response using targeted therapies and implement them in cancer chemoprevention studies.