Ana Palanca Cuñado

  • IBBTEC. C/ Albert Einstein 22, PCTCAN, 39011 Santander (Spain)
  • (+34) 942 201932
  • Nano and Molecular Treatments Against (Cardiac) Fibrosis
  • Microbiology & Genomics
  • Department of Microbiology & Genomics

I have been a member of the Villar’s lab since 2016, when I joined the University of Cantabria as an associate professor on Cell Biology and Histology. Simultaneously, I have been a postdoctoral researcher at Davis’ lab from 2014-2019, when I joined after completing my PhD in Cell Biology in Cantabria ( I specialise in imaging techniques, particularly electron X-ray and super-resolution microscopy which has open the doors for cryo-correlative imaging.


Our lab specialises on fibrosis, even though it mainly focusses in the cardiac fibrosis, we have being studying COVID-lung fibrosis induction and I was a NextVal PI with a project involving a very heterogeneous systemic connective tissue disease -systemic sclerosis- of unknown aetiology with a wide spectrum of manifestations including exacerbated diffuse fibrosis. Nowadays, the classification used is not sufficient to determine the therapeutic strategy that should be used in a specific patient, at a particular moment of its evolution; therefore, the state of the art is the absence of an effective early diagnosis or treatment along with the difficulties to classify effectively these patients. This project is funded by IDIVAL (Next-Val grant) and I am truly excited about the translation between my field -basic cell biology- with clinical -pathological- approach. 
Our research interest includes several models (organoids, rodents, and cell culture) with the fibrosis treatment as the target and my experience in histology and microscopy techniques are also useful and provides me the really fulfilling experience of mentoring and collaborating with other groups in an open and nice scientific environment.
Visit us in twitter: @fibrolab1

​​​​​​​Nano and Molecular Treatments against (Cardiac) Fibrosis

Host group to: Dra. Matxalen LLosa 


Research lines

    • Study of the molecular basis of the fibrotic pathology and the molecular mechanisms related to TGFβ and Hsp90 to target the disease in vitro and in vivo.
    • Study the effects of new biotechnological nanodrugs, CRISPR/Cas mutations or new genetic modified molecules as theragnostic particles in vitro and in vivo.
    • Generation of new nano-delivery systems to reach fibrotic targets.
    • Generation of new diagnostic tools.

The group of the Associate Professor, Dr. Ana V Villar studies the molecular mechanisms related to the role of the Hsp90 chaperone and the TGFβ cytokine in their relationship with the phenomena of cardiac fibrosis. The molecular studies settle the basis for the application of new nano-biotechnological and genetic drugs newly developed specifically for our projects. Hsp90α knock out mice, natural and immortalized primary cells, as well as in vivo tracking visualization tools, and Cardiac Magnetic Resonance functional studies (in collaboration with medical Doctors) lead us to perform highly innovative experiments orientated to the clinical needs to demonstrate advances in the field.

One of our research branch is focused on the generation of new therapies like our already patented one "Genetic Alert System" that is designed as a latent molecule that wakes up when the disease starts.

We are also interested in new nano-delivery systems to reach in vitro and in vivo pro-fibrotic targets. Implementation of new theragnostic strategies: tracked particles and fluorescent plate tests.

Pathologies in study: Myocardial fibrosis/Scleroderma


  • September 2022-september 2025. Principal Investigator: "​Chimeric Antigen Receptor-directed therapeutic biotransporter based on extracellular vesicles for the treatment of human cardiac fibrosis on organoid". Agencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI/MCI/10.13039/501100011033). PID2021-125702OB-I00. 
  • 2024-2025. Principal Investigator: ​"Vesículas extracelulares derivadas de fibroblastos autólogos para la prevención de queloides". Fomento de la transferencia de conocimiento en la Comunidad Autónoma de Cantabria 2023, Gobierno de Cantabria​ (SUBVTC-2023-0006 T)
  • January 2021-January 2022. Principal Investigator: "Terapia de protección telomérica para la enfermedad covid-19". Gobierno de Cantabria, 2020UCI22-PUB-0003.​
  • November 2020-22. Principal Investigator: "Anti-fibrotic treatment for SARS-CoV2 infected lungs". IDIVAL Foundation. Project code InnVal 20/34.
  • January 2019-22. Principal Investigator: Estudio in vivo de terapias moleculares de diseño y un nano-transportados genéticamente modificado contra la fibrosis cardiaca. Ministerio de Ciencia Innov y Univer (RTI2018-095214-B-I00).
  • January 2018-20. Principal Investigator: "Nanosensor test for fibrosis diagnosis in scleroderma patients". IDIVAL Foundation. Project code InnVal 17/22.
  • October 2018-20. Colaborator: Predictive study for the severity of the scleroderma disease. IDIVAL Foundation. Project code NextVal 18/10.
  • October 2018. Principal Investigator. Project "puente UC Sodercan": "Modular nanobiotechnological tools designed to detect and interfering with the key signaling route of cardiac fibrosis". Project code BIO2016-77367-C2-2-R.
  • May 2016-18: Principal Investigator: "Modular nanobiotechnological tools designed to detect and interfere with the key signaling pathway of cardiac fibrosis in vivo". IDIVAL Foundation (InnVal 15/31).
  • April 2017-2020: Principal Investigator: "Genetic Alert System to prevent myocardial fibrosis. Ministerio de Ciencia Innov y Univer (BIO2015-72124-EXP).


  • 20/09/2023. European patent 2023: EP23382951.​4 Method for producing therapeutic extracellular vesicles from mesenchymal stem cells by direct pulsed electrical stimulation.
  • ​29/03/2017. P201700440. Construcción génica y su empleo en el tratamiento de la fibrosis cardíaca​.​​​

Link to our Blog to keep you informed of our latest news:

Link to our webpage at the University of Cantabria

Lab Retreat 2019


Lab Retreat 2018


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