The Genomics Research Group conducts research on the genomics of neurodegeneration and aging, with emphasis on complex phenotypes and interactions (including interactions with environmental factors such as infectious diseases), and their relationship with Alzheimer’s disease. Its research team focuses on the causes of aging and age-related diseases, particularly neurodegenerative ones, and deals with broad topics by studying patterns of genome diversity and inferring what are the forces that affect living organisms, how and when they act, and how they affect such various things as biodiversity, population history, the evolution of complex, evolutionary relevant, traits, or the differential susceptibility of different people to certain diseases. The group benefits from its multi-institutional and trans-disciplinary environment, with contributions from experts in genetics, bioinformatics, biochemistry and cell biology.
Genetic correlations, pleiotropies, and comorbidity
This line of research aims at understanding the complex genetic relationships (technically known as genetic correlations and pleiotropies) between different diseases, especially those associated with age, and to understand how they drive comorbidities and disease trajectories. To do so, the group uses comparative genomics and bioinformatics tools to study large international databases of biomedical information.
The objective of this cross-sectional study is to expand the cognitive, genetic and brain characterization of cognitively healthy people, in order to better understand the genetic basis of neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases, fundamentally using genomic data from the Alfa study.
Virus and neurodegeneration
Viruses induce alterations and degenerations of neurons both directly and indirectly. This line of research approaches the phenomenon through two projects:
- Investigating the effects of the Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) in multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases. For this, the group is carrying out the largest study to date (EBV-Virome Wide Association Study, EBV-VWAS), investigating whether different variants of the virus affect the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases.
- Investigating the neurological effects of Covid-19 in people with different risks of Alzheimer's. For this line, mini-brains, personalized organoids of human brains, are produced from members of the Alfa cohort and subjected to different insults, including infection with SARS-Cov2.