Recent evidence acquired through radiocarbon dating of DNA unequivocally establishes that human hearts renew their own cells in adult life. This finding opens up the possibility of developing treatment strategies to stimulate heart regeneration as required, for example, after a heart attack or in degenerative syndromes. Achievement of this goal requires a deep understanding of the nature of the replicating cells, their putative progenitors and the pathways that control their fate. In the coming years, we plan to characterize the location, frequency and status of different stem cell populations and their progeny during organogenesis and aging, focusing primarily on cardiac stem cells. Our experimental approach will build on our recent finding that longer telomeres are a characteristic feature of adult stem cells. We also plan to assess whether cell competition takes place during organogenesis and tissue maintenance, by combining populations of cells with distinct contents of molecules related to cancer or aging. Through these efforts, we hope to achieve a more complete knowledge of the role of stem cells in organ formation, maintenance and aging, which could lead to the development of improved regenerative therapies.
Regarding scientific networks, Ignacio Flores participates in the EuroSystem project as an Associate Principal Investigator.
Ignacio Flores studied for his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM), and received his PhD in Biochemistry from the same university. For his PhD, in the laboratories of F. Mollinedo (CIB) and I. Mérida (CNB), he examined signal transduction mechanisms mediated by lipid second messengers.
As a postdoctoral fellow, Ignacio first worked in the laboratory of Gerard Evan at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he analyzed the process of Myc-induced tumorigenesis in animal models. He then moved to work with María Blasco at the Spanish National Cancer Centre (Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas; CNIO), where he investigated the role of telomeres and telomerases in stem cells during cancer and aging.
Ignacio joined the CNIC in 2009.