Laboratory of Experimental Oncology

The Laboratory of Experimental Oncology is included in 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 Metastasis, Cancer Research Section, Department of Specialised Experimental and Diagnostic Medicine - DIMES, University of Bologna.

The Laboratory, in collaboration with the Surgical Pathology Unit, hosts the musculoskeletal tumor biobank.


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 optimise medical treatments in bone and soft-tissue sarcoma patients.

Scientific Activity

In 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 signalling 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 lead to the development of innovative therapies and to a preclinical evaluation of the efficacy of molecular target drugs with particular reference to phosphorylation status of downstream molecules that permit monitoring therapy while it is being  given.

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

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

In particular:

  • Preclinical studies performed at our Institute on ET-743 (new drug Jondelis) and on anti-IGF1R in Ewing’s sarcoma have lead to the definition of phase I and II international clinical studies;
  • Creation of a human antibody against CD99 for possible clinical application;
  • Evaluation of drug resistance to doxorubicin by P-glycoprotein, that has contributed to the definition of a national protocol for osteosarcoma;
  • Identification of new molecular parameters for diagnosis and prognosis of sarcomas;
  • Coordination of National and European projects;
  • Patent for a new method of identification of a specific microdeletion useful in the diagnosis of Ewing’s sarcoma;
  • Patent in collaboration with the Istituto Superiore di Sanità on a method to normalize DNA for Reverse-Phase Protein Micro-Array.

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 15/02/2019 - 11:40
Content edited by: Dott. Massimo Serra (
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