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PhD Student: Lucia Minoli

Lucia Minoli graduated with honours  in 2016 in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Milan with a thesis on preclinical animal models for human ovarian cancer therapy. Since 2013 she has pursued an internship at the Mouse & Animal Pathology Lab (Filarete Foundation, Milan) as an intern student, where she has been trained as an anatomic and experimental pathologist. In 2015 she was enrolled at the same laboratory as a trainee in histological diagnostic of small animals tumors. After her graduation she spent a six month-period at Edmund Mach Foundation (TN), working on epidemiological distribution of Mycobacterium microti in wild rodents.

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Tutor: Prof. Eugenio Scanziani

Eugenio Scanziani graduated with honours in Veterinary Medicine in 1979 from the University of Milan. From 1984 he is researcher/associate professor/full professor of Veterinary Pathology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Milan. From 1995 he is Charter Member of the European College of Veterinary Pathologists (ECVP). During 1997-2002 he is member of the Examination Board of the ECVP. From 2004 to 2005 he is the President of the Italian Association of Veterinary Pathology (AIPVet). From 2007 to 2010 he is the Dean of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Milan. From 2009 to 2013 he is member of the “Consiglio Superiore di Sanità”, Ministry of Health, Rome. From 2008 he is the Head of the Mouse & Animal Pathology Lab (MAPLab) of Filarete Foundation.
His research area in the field of veterinary pathology is focused on the study of animal models for human diseases and pathogenesis of bacterial diseases in domestic animals. Eugenio Scanziani has published 158 peer reviewed articles (indexed in PubMed) in internationally recognized journals. His h index is 30 (ISI Web of Science).



Tumor microenvironment in experimental models of human cancer

Over the past decade, our understanding of tumors have drastically changed: tumors are no longer considered as a growth of homogeneous neoplastic cells, but as an actual organ composed of different structures. Concurring to this complex entity are, apart from neoplastic cells, numerous cell populations and structures (like tumor-associated vasculature, immune/inflammatory cells, fibroblast…) that could be all-together referred to as tumor microenvironment. Tumor microenvironment has a dual role in tumor biology, both promoting and antagonizing tumor growth. Accordingly, it has a great potential as a target for novel therapeutic approaches.

Experimental animal models represent a widely used tool in the study of human diseases, thanks to recapitulating pathogenetic and pathological features of different diseases. In particular, orthotopic xenotransplantation of human tumors into immunocompromised mice allows to reproduce the tumor microenvironment and mimics biological behavior of the corresponding human tumor.

Our project, that will be carried out in collaboration with different Institutions, will utilize different tumoral models with the goals of investigating tumor microenvironment and identifying biological processes that regulate tumor development and progression. These data will provide a support to future advances in therapies. Our project will be carried out relying on a multidisciplinary approach, including clinical, biochemical and molecular analyses. In particular, our main contribution will be focused on histological and immunohistochemical assays, which enable to perform quali-quantitative analyses to investigate the different components and morphological changes that occur in tumor.

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Fig. 1 – Mouse, pancreas. Orthotopic patient derived xenograft of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, immunohistochemical staining with anti-human class I major histocompatibility complex (human MHC I), 100x. Ihc staining show the human origin of neoplastic cells (positive for anti-human MHC I) surrounded by a host-derived stromal support (negative for anti-human MHC I).

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Fig. 2 – Mouse, subcutis, patient derived xenograft of human ovarian carcinoma. Immunohistochemical staining with anti-CD31, immunopositive vascular outlines (100x).