A new research group joins the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute focused on iron metabolism
This month of March a new research team has joined the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (IJC). It is Dr Mayka Sánchez’s team, focused on the study of iron metabolism.
Dr Sanchez’s team usually focuses on genetics and control over iron levels in the body. Even though we only need very small quantities of iron, it is essential to normal cell growth and to enjoy good health. Iron deficiency drives to anaemia. On the other hand, an excess of iron causes tissues to change and swell, to cell death, organ dysfunction and, occasionally, cancer. Our liver and blood cells play a vital role in controlling the iron in our bodies.
Dr Sanchez’s team carries out the research on various levels. On one hand, she studies the mechanisms iron metabolism and the genes that intervene. These studies could lead to the discovery of strange new iron metabolism diseases. Another line of investigation consists in designing, improving and carrying out new genetic tests destined to evaluate iron in patients who suffer from haematologial malignancies.
Presently, Dr Mayka Sanchez is also carrying out a joint project with Prof. Norbert Gattermann, from the Department of Haematology at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, financed by the Josep Carreras Foundation in Germany, called “Cause for mitochondrial iron excess in sideroblastic anaemia”. There is a patient subgroup with myelopysplastic syndrome who suffer from a condition called sideroblastic anaemia. Great amounts of iron gather in these patients’ cells. In most of these patients, a genetic mutation can be identified, though the exact mechanism of how the iron gathers in their cells is unknown. These patients with sideroblastic anaemia do not usually develop acute leukaemia, but they suffer from chronic anaemia and cell damage due to iron excess. The goal of this research is to understand these mechanisms and provide treatments for this condition.
Dr Mayka Sanchez graduated from Barcelona University and spent seven years as a post doctorate researcher in three prestigious international research centres in Heidelberg, Germany. After this, she moved to Barcelona to start her own research team at the Institute of Predictive and Personalised Medicine of Cancer (IMPPC) in Badalona. Now she has joined the ICO-Germans Trias I Pujol Campus at the Josep Carreres Leukaemia Research Institute (IJC).