The aim of the Unit is to develop patient-derived models that will set the scene for target identification and for efficacious combination therapy in oncology. Results from the preclinical studies conducted in these models are expected to identify new targeted approaches, able to hamper the deregulated signaling network. In particular, the resistance to targeted therapy highlights the need to discover drivers of an early non-mutational drug-tolerance state, before resistance occurs, providing an opportunity for more effective therapeutic approaches. The research topics concern:
- the role of growth factor and receptors (i.e. endothelin-1, estrogen) or anti-apoptotic proteins (i.e.bcl-2, bcl-xL) in invasion, metastasis, and response to anti-cancer therapy and their interplay with the tumor microenvironment
- the mechanism of tumor angiogenesis and lymphoangiogenesis
- the membrane protrusions in cell migration and invasiveness
- preclinical models to evaluate new combinatorial therapies
The development of preclinical models “patient-derived” (PD), including primary cultures and co-cultures, organoids/tumoroids, circulating tumor cells, PD-xenografts, represents an important platform for the evaluation of new therapeutic agents and for the identification of new biomarkers. This platform (ovarian and lung cancer, melanoma) can represent an opportunity of integration among inter-and intra-department that can reliably disclose the prospective results of clinical practice based on a strong pre-clinical rationale.