Laboratory of Experimental Oncology

The Laboratory of Experimental Oncology (Director: Katia Scotlandi) is part of the Complex Orthopaedic-Trauma Pathology Department and consists of three Research Units, an Epidemiology Section, and a Preclinical Section held in collaboration with the Laboratory of Immunology and Biology of Metastases, Cancer Research Section, Department of Specialized Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine - DIMES, University of Bologna.


Several senior researchers, PhD students, and student fellows presently work at the Laboratory of Experimental Oncology.

The current activities of the Research Units are aimed to a better knowledge of musculoskeletal neoplasm biology, in order to obtain information which may be used to optimize medical treatments in bone and soft-tissue sarcoma patients.

Scientific Activity

Along the years, the laboratory has specialized in translational research of musculoskeletal sarcomas and in optimizing multidisciplinary treatments.

Molecular characterization of musculoskeletal sarcomas is aimed at the identification of genetic and/or protein biomarkers correlated to the state of the disease, with a relevant clinical impact for diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications. The information included in the state of activation of the signaling pathways involved in cell growth and proliferation is important for tumor pathogenesis and potential therapeutic targets associated to kinetic activity.

Identification of these critical end-points leads to the development of innovative therapies and to a preclinical evaluation of the efficacy of molecular target drugs, with particular reference to the phosphorylation status of downstream molecules that permit monitoring therapy in real time.

At the same time ongoing studies are performed to understand genetic and molecular mechanisms responsible for resistance to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs, with particular attention to osteosarcoma, and to evaluate preclinical efficacy of new antitumor agents that are able to bypass the abovementioned drug resistance and evaluate their interactions with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs.

Practice of excellence

The research activity has obtained acknowledgement for biologic parameters useful in clinical prognosis and in staging medical/surgical treatment, including clinical protocols approved by the Ethical Committee.

In particular:

  • Preclinical studies conducted at our institute on specific target drugs (anti-IGF1R antibodies, drugs directed against mediators of epigenetic regulation) or innovative drugs with impact on both tumor cells and immune system cells (eg Trabectedin), which have contributed to the definition of phase I and II international clinical studies;
  • Evaluation of drug resistance to doxorubicin mediated by overexpression of ABCB1 (P-glycoprotein), which contributed to the definition of the ISG/OS-2 national protocol for osteosarcoma treatment ( Identifier: NCT01459484), involving all the Italian Centres belonging to the Italian Sarcoma Group (ISG) and several Spanish Centres belonging to the Grupo Español de Investigación en Sarcomas (GEIS);
  • Identification of new molecular parameters for diagnosis and prognosis of sarcomas, to be used as predictive biomarkers for the design of risk-based treatments;
  • Coordination of National and European projects;
  • Patents for tools directed against the molecule CD99, characteristic of Ewing sarcoma cells;
  • Deep, massive genetic studies for the molecular characterization of bone and soft tissue sarcomas. 

The laboratory is the referral center for:

  • Definition of guidelines for the planning and execution of protocols for innovative treatments for patients with musculoskeletal sarcomas, non-responsive to conventional drugs;
  • Definition of guidelines for the identification of new diagnostic and prognostic parameters in tissue and blood samples from sarcomas patients;
  • Management of officially acknowledged Registries of Malignant Primary Bone Tumors (National and Regional Registry) and of Osteosarcoma (National Registry in collaboration with A.I.E.O.P.). 
Content updated 26/05/2019 - 10:37
Content edited by: Dott. Massimo Serra (
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