This research group's activity is focused on studying biological activity of bioactive compounds, essentially from plant sources, and some drugs as well. One main work line is based on examining dietary compounds, mainly polyphenols, and their effects on human health. Furthermore, the group has also explored molecular mechanisms of some drugs and natural compounds in relation to their capacity to modulate dependent cellular proliferation pathways of growth factor receptors in tumor cells in order to design new anti-cancer drugs.
The principle activities of bioactive compounds studied by this group are related to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anticarcinogenic nature. As part of these activities, one transversal objective has also been to delve deeper into the molecular effects of polyphenolic compounds in biological membranes to contribute to knowledge on their biological activity through the use of model membranes.
Moreover, the group carries out numerous activities focused on optimizing fruit juice extraction processes and making use of the by-products from such industry via semi-industrial production at a pilot plant of various extracts rich in antioxidants and/or antimicrobials for application in functional food and nutritional supplements. The stability and functionality of these extracts are studied during their formulation development, as well as during the prepared beverage's useful life.
Currently, the group's main research lines are focused on the following activities, some of which are closely related to diverse human pathologies:
1. Study of the capacity of polyphenols to mitigate effects from metabolic stress associated to pathologies of obesity (oxidative stress, insulin resistance, and steatohepatitis) through their possible epigenetic regulation.
2. Capacity of polyphenols to modulate oxidative stress and inflammation associated with pathologies or special metabolic situations like those existing during intense physical exercise.
3. Bio-directed screening of plant extracts in the search for antimicrobial and photoprotective compounds. These activities are focused on the search for antioxidants/antimicrobials with applications in hygiene and dermocosmetics.
4. Study of cytotoxic/cytostatic effects from some polyphenols, as well as their ability to modulate apoptosis, senescence, and autophagy processes, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Use of cellular and animal tumor models of cancer using a comprehensive foodomic approach in which transciptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics converge.
5. Development of semi-industrial extraction processes of compounds of interest, including the pilot production of small representative quantities of commercial production to begin market studies. Design and construction of pilot equipment to improve extraction equipment of nutraceuticals in collaboration with businesses from the sector of equipment manufacturing and industrial machinery.
6. Development of functional beverage formulations from plant extracts for the fruit and refreshing drink sector.