Pathology 2

Research title:

Identification of tumour-associated molecules as suitable biomarkers of cancer in dogs. 

Tutor: Dr Cristina Lecchi

 

Contact details

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Phone: +39 0250318100

Fax: +39 0250318095

 

State of the art 

Several genes, proteins, signal transduction pathways and other molecules (e.g., microRNA) have been identified as differentially expressed in pre-invasive neoplasia and in cancers as compared to normal tissues. In addition to differential gene expression, alternative splicing and post-translational have also been identified during cancer development. The molecular features of solid tumors are established on samples collected after surgery or biopsy. Recently, the analyses of nucleic acids collected from body fluids, such as blood serum, saliva, milk, as well as urine and semen, have been shown to closely match those of the corresponding tumors. The molecular profiles gathered from body fluid’s nucleic acids can be further complemented with those obtained through analysis of circulating tumor cells, proteins and lipids, contained within vesicles. Some of these molecules or molecular pathways are translated into being useful clinically, i.e., in practical medical uses that directly affect medical care. Such uses include diagnostic support in early detection, determination of clinical outcomes (prognosis), diagnosis, detection of recurrence after therapy, risk assessment, identification of targets for therapy, prediction of responses to therapies (i.e., prediction), monitoring clinical outcomes of therapies (i.e., surrogate endpoints), and imaging diseases processes.

lecchi1

 

Aims of the project

The topic for the PhD position is the identification of molecular biomarkers useful in translational pathology of dog’s neoplasia. At a first instance the main targets will be cutaneous mast cell tumours and oral melanoma. In first phase the PhD student will (I) elucidate the molecular pathogenic mechanisms of cancers and (II) characterize the molecular profiles of specific body fluids using –omics techniques, including among the others miRNomics proteomics and metabolomics. In a second phase, the data will be analysed to identify the molecules differentially expressed between normal and neoplastic tissues/body fluids with different histologic grading by using qPCR and biochemical techniques. The differentially expressed molecules will be analysed using bioinformatics resources to identify pathways related to specific mechanisms of cancer progression and suitable prognostic and predictive biomarkers. The transferable skills acquired by the student include (a) a huge knowledge of molecular basis of canine neoplasia; (b) expertise in –omics techniques, including samples preparation and data analysis; (c) expertise in liquid biopsy applied to veterinary medicine At least two secondments are envisaged: one for proteomics and one for metabolomic experiments

 

Recent publications of the tutor in the field 

1. Ceciliani F, Roccabianca P, Giudice C, Lecchi C (2016). Application of post-genomic techniques in dog cancer research. Mol Biosyst.;12(9):2665-79. doi: 10.1039/c6mb00227g. Review.

2. Lecchi C, Marques AT, Redegalli M, Meani S, Vinco LJ, Bronzo V, Ceciliani F (2016). Circulating extracellular miR-22, miR-155, and miR-365 as candidate biomarkers to assess transport-related stress in turkeys. Animal.;10(7):1213-7. doi:10.1017/S1751731115003043.

3. Lecchi C, Giudice C, Uggè M, Scarafoni A, Baldi A, Sartorelli P (2015). Characterisation of adiponectin and its receptors in the bovine mammary gland and in milk. Vet J.;203(3):296-301. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.01.009.

4. Ceciliani F, Eckersall D, Burchmore R, Lecchi C (2014). Proteomics in veterinary medicine: applications and trends in disease pathogenesis and diagnostics. Vet Pathol.;51(2):351-62. doi: 10.1177/0300985813502819. Review.

5. Lecchi C, Giudice C, Uggè M, Scarafoni A, Baldi A, Sartorelli P (2015). Characterisation of adiponectin and its receptors in the bovine mammary gland and in milk. Vet J.;203(3):296-301. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2015.01.009.