Understanding immune and microbiological resetting after hematopoietic stem cell transplant

in Crohn’s Disease patients

News   El País: 8 July 2016


The stem cell research undertaken, and ongoing, at the the Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD Unit), Barcelona has been profiled at "El Pais", Spain's highest-circulation daily newspaper.


The article (in Spanish only) can be viewed by clicking on the photo at left.

Former Crohn's patient Javier Casado beside Dr. Elena Ricart of Hospital Clinic Barcelona (on right) and Investigator Azucena Salas, Ph.D. of IDIBAPS (on left). / P.E.

An active project in our Unit uses hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) to treat severe forms of Crohn’s disease that remain refractory to available treatment (see clinical study; click here). Research in our lab aims to understand the underlying mechanisms, inducing disease remission, in these patients. To this end, we are perfoming intense (-omics) analysis of these patient groups. Transcirptional, genetic, immunological and microbiological profiling is being performed both prior to HSCT and at different times following it. 


While HSCT has proven to be effective in inducing drug-free remission in a significant number of patients, it remains a very aggressive therapy with a 3-5% mortality rate. Our goal at the lab is to dissect the key mechanisms that drive disease quiescence in these very severe and refractory patients. Understanding these mechanisms will allow us to design equally effective new therapies that could be well tolerated and applied to larger cohorts of patients.


Flow cytometry analysis

Immunofluorescence staining of intestinal muscosa

This project is directed by Azucena Salas. Sample collection is coordinated by Maica Masamunt and Rebeca Barastegui. Ana Corraliza performs the omics analysis. Daniel Benitez and Carolina España are involved in the immunophenotyping of patients, and Miriam Esteller in sample processing. Microbiological analysis are performed in collaboration with Margarita Martínez (University of Girona, Spain) and Dirk Haller (Technische Universität München, Germany).


- Leona and Harry Helmsley Trust; PI: Azucena Salas

- R+D National Fund from Spanish Ministry of Economy and Innovation (I+D SAF2015-66379). Dates: 1/2016-12/2018 PI: Azucena Salas