growing number of studies demonstrated significant correlations between microenvironment  components and patients’ outcome, thereby emphasizing their relevance to tumor progression.

A

xtensive changes occur in the stromal compartment during cancer evolution. In fact, tumor cells actively recruit bone marrow-derived cells into their microenvironment to facilitate primary tumor development and progression, and a continuous inter-cellular cross-talk is ensured by the release of soluble molecules and vesicles containing proteins, mRNA and microRNA, also detectable in the blood and currently recognized as the main mechanism underlying cell-to-cell communication acting either locally or systemically.

E

his project is aimed at investigating tumor microenvironment, its cellular and molecular components, the reciprocal interactions between tumor cells and the supporting stromal cells, and the dynamic framework of the extracellular matrix that they build and remodel in the cancer initiation and progression.

T

better understanding of early stroma modifications induced by tumor cells, and viceversa (cancer cells modifications induced by stroma), could have a profound impact on how cancer is detected, prevented and treated, and might provide blood and tissue-based biomarkers able to identify progressing lesions.

A

hanks to a multidisciplinary approach and taking advantage of screening trials ongoing for lung and colorectal cancers, of an ongoing international project of active surveillance for prostate cancer and of solid retrospective studies for breast cancer and melanoma, the project aims at investigating the following topics:

  1. relevance of cells and molecules from and to bone marrow for early diagnosis and risk assessment
  2. diagnostic value of signals from tumor microenvironment and extracellular matrix
  3. tumor-microenvironment interactions and genetic risk
  4. clinical impact of tumor-microenvironment related changes

T

hrough the above research, we are confident to provide proof-of-concept that early stroma modifications in the tumor and in its microenvironment have biological and clinical relevance for the early detection of cancer lesions and for the early identification of aggressive tumors.

T

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