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Valentina Zamarian graduated in Veterinary Biotechnology Master’s Degree at the University of Milan in October 2017. In the same year she won an Erasmus/Placement program at the University of Bonn where she took part in a DAAD MIUR financed project under the supervisor of Prof. Dr. Helga Sauerwein and Prof. Fabrizio Ceciliani, working on the PEDF protein purification with the aim of develop an ELISA assay for dairy ruminants. This work was than the topic of her Master’s thesis. Previously she did also an internship at the University of Milan working on qPCR, acquiring skills in molecular biology; now her job is oriented to this field.

Cristina Lecchi graduated in Veterinary Biotechnolgy at Università degli Studi di Milano (UNIMI). She defended her Ph.D. thesis on the evaluation of biological activities of acute phase proteins in January 2009. She spent the post-doc period basically focused on immune response and acute phase proteins. Since October 2012 she is a senior researcher in Veterinary Pathology at Department of Veterinary Medicine (UNIMI). The focus of her research is the study of molecules involved in immune response and inflammation and the identification of biomarkers useful in veterinary medicine (i.e. acute phase proteins and microRNAs) using molecular techniques. She has been published so far can be found at this Pubmed address:


Title: Identification of tumor-associated molecules as suitable biomarkers of cancer in dogs.

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.

The aim of the project is the identification of molecular biomarkers useful in translational pathology of dog’s neoplasia. At a first instance the main targets will be malignant tumors, such as cutaneous mast cell tumors and oral melanoma. The project is divided into two phases:

The first phase will (I) elucidate the molecular pathogenic mechanisms of cancers and (II) characterize the molecular profiles of specific tissues and body fluids using –omics techniques, including among the others miRNomics, proteomics and metabolomics.

In the second phase, the data will be analyzed 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 analyzed using bioinformatics resources to identify pathways related to specific mechanisms of cancer progression and suitable prognostic and predictive biomarkers.

Figure 1.Target prediction and pathway enrichment using Gene Ontology annotation, David resources and  KEGG.