Malu Martínez-Chantar
Malu Martínez-Chantar

Address: Bizkaia Science and Technology Park,
building 801A, Derio (Bizkaia)
Liver Disease Lab
Alfonso Martínez de la Cruz

Address: Bizkaia Science and Technology Park,
building 800, Derio (Bizkaia)

Malu Martínez-Chantar is an independent Group Leader at CIC bioGUNE, has published more than 80 publications in prestigious journals, and has established a high number of collaborations with important research groups in the fi eld of liver health and injury all over the world. Moreover, she has been co-PI of four NIH with Dr. Lu (USC, Keck School of Medicine USC, Los Angeles, USA) in the fi eld of liver disease. She was one of the partners in an ambitious European project so called HEPADIP Consortium, which was created in response to the topic of the 3rd call for proposals in the EU FP6 Programme. Actually, she is the coordinator of the Traslational Area of the National Institute for the study of Liver and Gastrointestinal Diseases (CIBEREHD) and the group is part of the Cholestasis and Metabolic Disorders Program. In this respect, she is member of the Scientifi c Advisory Board of the C3M Inserm Nice and the biopharmaceutical company Mitotherapeutix, Connecticut, USA.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a clinicalpathological term that includes a spectrum of alterations ranging from the simple accumulation of triglycerides in the hepatocytes (steatosis) to steatosis with hepatic inflammation (steatohepatitis or NASH). NASH, in turn, also progresses to cirrhosis and HCC. The mechanisms that lead to the expression of NASH are not clear, but it is a condition associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes. 

Since the incidence of these diseases is increasing, the prevalence of NASH is also expected to increase in coming years (today it varies between 13 to 15 % of the population). NASH is now considered to be an emerging disease in USA and occidental countries.Nowadays, lacking accurate, sensitive diagnostic test, distinguishing steatosis from steatohepatitis requires the use of invasive techniques like liver biopsy.

To summarize, the lack of information about the factors implicated in the NASH pathogenesis, as well as in the prognostics characteristics and the treatment of this pathology, highlights the need of new approach in order to understand the mechanisms involved in the development of NASH and the progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Over the last few years, we have elucidated new molecular mechanisms implicated in the proliferation, regeneration and apoptosis and identified targets that contributing to the abnormal hepatic lipid metabolism and proliferation ended in the development of cirrhosis and liver cancer.The most important projects ongoing in my laboratory are focused on the role of posttranslational modifications throughout different stages of liver disease and ranges from effects on whole organ, such as NEDD8 inhibition on development of fibrosis, to more molecular approaches such as autophagy in hepatic steatosis and the role of LKB1 in hepatocellular carcinoma. In this respect, Metabolism has been one of the most important goals as well as  the mitochondria function in liver disease.

Finally we have maintained a closed collaboration with the company OWL Metabolomics in the development of OWLiver® Care and OWLiver®, two non-invasive assays for fatty liver screening and for NASH diagnosis and Millennium Pharmaceuticals and Mitotherapeutix for the discovery of new drugs for the treatment of cirrhosis-NAFLD dependent and Liver Cancer.