MicroRNAs as therapeutic targets in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Hosted by Matxus Perugorría

Rui E. Castro graduated in Biology and Genetics by the Faculty of Sciences, Univ. of Lisbon, in 2002. He went on to complete his PhD degree in Pharmacy (Biochemistry) by the Faculty of Pharmacy, Univ. of Lisbon (FF/UL) in 2006, having spent a total of 12 months at the Dept. of Medicine, Univ. of Minnesota Medical School, USA. During his PhD degree, Castro made important contributions in characterizing bile acids (BAs) as potent signaling molecules, particularly regarding modulation of cell fate. His productivity at this stage led to 13 publications in multidisciplinary and top specialty peer-reviewed international journals. In 2007, Castro was awarded with a Post-Doctoral Fellowship from the Portuguese Science Foundation (FCT) to open up and branch his collaboration with the University of Minnesota into new grounds.

In particular, he shifted his research focus into the role of microRNAs during liver regeneration, for which he was awarded with a European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) Grant. At the same time, Castro started to become interested in establishing himself in the area of miRNAs-liver interplay. As a result, he was appointed with an Assistant Investigator position at Research Institute for Medicines (iMed.ULisboa), FF/UL, in July 2009. In February 2015, he started working as a Principal Investigator in the Cellular Function and Therapeutic Targeting Group.

Early 2021, Castro started his own group at iMed.ULisboa – Liver Disease Diagnostics and Therapeutics Lab. The research being developed by Castro combines his solid background in the modulation of liver cell function by bile acids with his most recent discoveries in the microRNA field, to answer fundamental questions on the pathogenesis, diagnosis and therapeutic targeting of liver diseases. In this regard, Castro¿s lab is taking advantage of well-established in vitro and in vivo models of disease, as well as human patient biopsies and clinical data, combined in multi-layered translational approaches, to ultimately bring microRNA-associated health technologies to the clinical setting. In particular, the role of microRNAs and extracellular vesicles (EVs) in inter-organ communication in the setting of obesity and metabolic disease; as well as its exploitation for the diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and prevention of liver disease, constitutes a key research objective.