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Monica Lares

Associate Professor

Monica Lares
Monica Lares


707-664- 3971
Faculty Research Site


Darwin 315

Office Hours

Tue: 1:00 pm-2:00 pm
Fri: 11:00 am-12:00 pm

Advising Area

  • A-C


P.h.D. Chemistry, UCSC

B.S. Chemistry, Santa Clara University, 


The Lares lab is working on identifying key interactions between the B-cell-activating factor receptor (BAFF-R) protein and a RNA aptamer that specifically binds BAFF-R. BAFF-R is expressed on B-cells and overexpressed in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. When BAFF-R's ligand, B-cell-activating factor (BAFF), binds, proliferation and cell survival increase allowing the cancer to spread faster. Aptamers are capable of binding their targets with high specificity and affinity and have recently been investigated for their therapeutic advantages over antibody-based approaches. An RNA aptamer has been identified that efficiently binds BAFF-R, thus preventing binding of its ligand. The RNA aptamer has also been used to deliver therapeutic reagents that kill the cell. We are working on identifying the specific amino acids of BAFF-R that are responsible for the binding of the aptamer using site-directed mutagenesis. We also want to identify the nucleotides of the RNA aptamer that specifically bind BAFF-R using RNase protection assays. Understanding the specific interactions between BAFF-R and its aptamer would allow us to increase specificity, reducing off-target effects, and facilitate this therapeutic approach through clinical trials.