Recent studies have frequently documented an association between the appearance and severity of hormone-sensitive tumors, such as breast cancer and thyroid cancer, and environmental pollutants. This marks the starting point for Asteroid, a new project funded by the Ministry of University and Research (Mur) under the so-called Prin 2020 and rated Best Project (first ranked in the ERC LS3 segment). The study was conducted by a team of researchers from different universities with complementary and interdisciplinary skills. The coordinator is Michelle Melilla, Head of Clinical Oncology, Department of Medicine, University of Verona, who will provide her skills in clinical and translational studies of breast cancer, in collaboration with the Gemelli Polyclinic Foundation. The University of Siena will contribute with Maria Grazia Castagna from the Department of Medicine, Surgery and Neurosciences to the clinical study of thyroid cancer. The University of Rome Tor Vergata will work with Roberto Pai of the Department of Clinical Sciences and Translational Medicine to develop and characterize preclinical models of the two tumors to analyze the effects of environmental pollutants and their molecular targets to identify new therapeutic strategies. Silvia Migliacchio, from the Department of Human Kinetics and Health at the University of Rome, Foro Italiano, will address the impact of the environment and lifestyle, with particular attention to nutritional aspects and physical activity. Sapienza University of Rome with Elisabetta Ferretti of the Department of Experimental Medicine – the department that has received 6 other grants in the same competition – will coordinate the analysis of new circulating biomarkers and molecular and cellular characterization using “omic” techniques, both preclinical. Clinical models and samples. The study “Genetic/Environmental Interactions in Breast and Thyroid Cancer: Determining the Biological Role, Action of Endocrine Factors and Lifestyle for the Development of Rational (Asteroid) Therapeutic/Preventive Interventions” will investigate the complex interaction between genes and environment in these two tumors. The research will begin with a proactive and proactive analysis of patients with these tumors, in which the associations between the genetic aspects of each tumor and the patients’ lifestyle will be highlighted. Furthermore, the molecular environmental problems of the action of pollutants in preclinical models of different types of tumor will be identified. Based on the results obtained, the results of a structured lifestyle intervention focused on nutritional counseling and appropriate exercise for patients with these tumors will be tested.
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