Maria Blasco

Director | Spanish National Cancer Research Centre


Dr. Maria A. Blasco is a trailblazing figure in the field of longevity research and telomere biology, renowned for her groundbreaking contributions to understanding the mechanisms of aging and extending healthy lifespan. As the Director of the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) and Head of the Telomeres and Telomerase Group, Dr. Blasco leads cutting-edge research that has reshaped our understanding of aging at a cellular level.

With a distinguished career dedicated to unraveling the secrets of telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that play a crucial role in cellular aging, Dr. Blasco has garnered international acclaim for her pioneering work. Her research has not only deepened our knowledge of how telomeres impact aging and disease but has also opened new avenues for potential interventions to promote healthy aging.

Dr. Maria A. Blasco’s leadership and expertise have positioned her as a key figure in the longevity research community, driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in extending human healthspan. Her commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and translating research findings into tangible benefits for society underscores her dedication to improving human health and well-being.


Telomerase gene therapy in ageing and ageing-associated diseases

Progressive telomere shortening throughout life is one of the hallmarks of molecular aging and short telomeres are risk factors for age-associated diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. In addition to the natural occurring telomere shortening, accelerated telomere attrition triggered by mutations in the telomere maintenance machinery (eg. Tert) results in a broad spectrum of diseases summarized as Telomere Syndromes. Over the past decade our laboratory developed different telomerase activation strategies (i.e. transgenesis, virus-based gene therapy) with which we demonstrated that organismal ageing can be delayed by telomerase expression in wild-type mice. We have now developed mouse models recapitulating human aging-associated diseases and telomere syndromes. In this context, we demonstrated that reactivation of telomerase using adeno associated gene therapy Test activation has therapeutic effects in mouse models of  heart infarct, aplastic anaemia and pulmonary fibrosis associated with short telomeres.