Molecular and Pharmaco-Epidemiology Unit
We work on primary and secondary cancer prevention projects, as well as on prognostics and predictive biomarkers of solid tumors (e.g. MC1R polymorphisms and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, Adiponectin etc.).
We are interested in investigating the polygenic nature of cancer, by studying the various forms of potential interactions between genetic, phenotypic and environmental factors and their impact on both cancer development and prognosis. The advancement in technologies now allows the production of large numbers of data, generally classified as “-omics”, that need specific approach of statistical analysis. The translation of laboratory results in clinical setting is often complex and needs an integration of different information on a wide spectrum of clinical, molecular, epidemiological and lifestyle factors.
We are studying the interaction between fecal and oral microbiome and biomarkers, such as vitamin D serum level, GC binding protein and VDR polymorphisms, in association with cancer risk and prognosis. Vitamin D acts on immune responses, cell cycle, and metabolic processes and there are increasing evidence on its interaction with the gut microbiota in relationship with different diseases. Our aim is to investigate the correlation between fecal and oral microbiota and vitamin D metabolism in a case-control study and a clinical trial for colorectal cancer patient to assess their role on cancer risk and outcome.
We are also investigating the association between candidate single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPS) with cancer risk, with particular attention to their direct and indirect effect in cancer risk and to gene-environment interaction. This is of particular importance for assessing preventive strategies that could be applied in a clinical context and be therefore directed to specific at risk categories basing on both genetic and clinical/epidemiological risk factors.
Our group is interested in investigating the role of the minimal active dose of drug than can be used for the management of in situ disease (i.e, low dose tamoxifen for treatment of ER positive in situ neoplasia). We are also interested in studying the possibility to repurpose the large arsenal of approved, non-anticancer drugs for cancer treatment. We focus mainly on the effects of three common drugs such as metformin, beta-blockers and vitamin D.
Our projects are aimed to integrate and assess the importance of epidemiological factors in translational and clinical research. With our researches, we would like to create the basis of personalized prevention and therapeutic programs for cancer that will integrate molecular, genetics and epidemiological risk factors.
Most Relevant Publications
Microbiome as Mediator of Diet on Colorectal Cancer Risk: The Role of Vitamin D, Markers of Inflammation and Adipokines.
Crit Rev Oncol Hematol, 2020
Arch Intern Med, 2007
Eur J Cancer, 2005