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"Lipids are in many ways the most important of the biomolecules because they are the ultimate controllers and regulators of our bodily processes; they are key to signaling events in cells. Further, imbalances in lipids are implicated in many illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis, diabetes and Alzheimer disease. If we are going to solve these diseases, we must know what the lipids are and what they do"

--Edward A. Dennis, University of California, San Diego

 

Welcome to the website of the Eicosanoid Research Division at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Genetics (IBGM by its initials in Spanish). Here you can find information about the research being done and the people involved. If you like what you read here and would like to know more, please write to jbalsinde@ibgm.uva.es.

The IBGM is supported by the University of Valladolid and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC by its initials in Spanish). The University of Valladolid provides physical space. For everything else, our Division depends only on the CSIC.

Valladolid, our home town, is the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Castile and León, nowadays an Autonomous Region within Spain. Valladolid was founded by the Castilians in the 11th century, but its name is thought to derive from the Celtic-Roman "Valle Tolitum" (Watery Valley), or perhaps the Arabic "Velad Walid" (Lands of the Governor), which suggests that the area had been inhabited much before the Castilians settled in. Natives of Valladolid are called vallisoletanos. Famous vallisoletanos include Kings Philip II and Philip IV of Spain, conquistadors Ponce de León and Pánfilo de Narváez, poets José Zorrilla and Jorge Guillén, novelist Miguel Delibes, and college student Sofía Balsinde.

Lipid signaling is also key to the development of cardiovascular disease, one of the most prevalent inflammatory disorders. Atherosclerosis is the primary cause for cardiovascular disease, and diabetes increases the risk several-fold by enhancing the formation and/or progression of atherosclerotic lesions, a process in which abnormally-activated monocytes and macrophages appear to play a major role. In diabetes, these cells appear to be in a proinflammatory state, releasing elevated amounts of cytokines and eicosanoids that perpetuate the inflammatory condition. Monocytes/macrophages from diabetic patients have been found to exhibit enhanced expression of Toll-like receptors 2 and 4. These receptors sense bacterial pathogens but also endogenous danger molecules such as saturated free fatty acids, typically present at elevated amounts in obese individuals.

 

Vallisoletum, Civitates Orbis Terrarum. Braun & Hogenberg, 1572

 

The Eicosanoid Research Division consists of two research laboratories, one headed by Prof. Jesús Balsinde and the other by Prof. María Balboa. The Balsinde Lab leans toward biochemistry and chemical biology strategies, and the Balboa Lab places more emphasis on molecular cell biology approaches. While completely independent of each other, there exists a great deal of interaction between the two labs.

Work in the Eicosanoid Research Division is focused on understanding lipid signaling, particularly in relation to inflammation and obesity. Lipid mediators are produced by a variety of phospholipases, of which there are many types. We are currently interested in two of them; the phospholipase A2s and the lipins (type 1 phosphatidate phosphatases). The phospholipase A2s are responsible for generating free AA for eicosanoid biosynthesis. The eicosanoids are of utmost biomedical importance because they exert very potent proinflammatory actions. On the other hand, lipins are central to the control of triacyglycerol biosynthesis, and thus play a key role in obesity and related disorders such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. At the Eicosanoid Research Division we combine a wide range of chemical, biochemical, pharmacoological, and molecular cell biology techniques to study pathophysiologically relevant problems involving alterations in lipid metabolism and signaling.

The Eicosanoid Research Division is a founding member of the Spanish Research Network on Diabetes and Associated Metabolic Disorders (CIBERDEM).

Pablo de Valladolid -- Velázquez, c. 1635

 

Pablo de Valladolid -- Velázquez, c. 1635

 

Pablo de Valladolid -- Velázquez, c. 1635

 

Pablo de Valladolid -- Velázquez, c. 1635

 

Pablo de Valladolid -- Velázquez, c. 1635