Molecular Inhibitors Can Boost Natural Tumor Suppression to Fight Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma

Inhibition of the oncogenic kinase AKT, a key protein governing the cell cycle, was found to arrest cancer cell proliferation and triggered their programmed death by apoptosis. The study, published today in Oncogene, represents significant progress in the clinical translation of previous basic scientific discoveries.

“Understanding the molecular features that govern cancer cell behavior is the basis for the design of the so-called ‘targeted therapies’ which constitute modern precision medicine,” says senior author on the paper Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Sbarro Health Research Organization at Temple University.

The study revealed an important role of the cell cycle protein RBL2/p130 in triggering cancer cell death upon inhibition of AKT, which is hyperactive in many cancer types. The researchers found that RBL2/p130, a known tumor suppressor factor isolated by Giordano himself in the 1990s, is a direct target of the AKT kinase. The pharmacological inhibition of AKT led to RBL2/p130 protein stabilization, in both lung cancer and mesothelioma cell lines, and favored its localization to the cell nucleus, where it can function restricting cell proliferation, a well defined function of RBL2/p130 and of the other retinoblastoma proteins belonging to its family.

Further confirming the crucial role of RBL2/p130 in determining the cell response to AKT inhibition, the authors showed that AKT pharmacological inactivation no longer caused cancer cell death when RBL2/p130 expression was shut down through a specific silencing. Conversely, RBL2/p130 re-expression in previously silenced cells restored cell ability to undergo programmed death following AKT kinase inhibition.

AKT is a recognized target for antitumor strategies owing to its high levels in multiple tumors, and the manner in which it stimulates oncogenic pathways. Therefore, many companies have developed AKT inhibitors which are currently being tested in clinical trials. As RBL2/p130 is crucial in determining cancer cell fate upon AKT kinase inhibition, RBL2/p130 could serve as a predictive factor of the response to such a therapeutic strategy. The authors also assessed whether AKT pharmacological targeting could function in synergy with other approaches aimed at re-activating RBL2/p130 tumor suppressor function. The results confirmed that AKT inhibition functioned in synergy with cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors in both preclinical models of lung cancer and mesothelioma. CDKs are the main kinases known to phosphorylate RBL2/p130, restraining its cell cycle-related tumor suppressor function.

“The combined use of these agents, AKT and CDK inhibitors, which converge on RBL2/p130 reactivation and are currently being investigated in the clinical setting, could help to reduce their dosage and consequently their associated toxicities,” says lead author Francesca Pentimalli of the National Cancer Institute of Naples Pascale Foundation, CROM.

“Our findings were conducted in lung cancer and mesothelioma, the latter being a tumor caused by exposure to asbestos, against which no curative approach exists,” says Giordano.  “However, given that RBL2/p130 is rarely mutated in cancer, but rather is mostly inactive by the action of AKT and CDK kinases, it is likely that this therapeutic strategy could work in a wider variety of tumors.”

The study, which was funded by the Italian Association for Cancer Research, the Sbarro Health Research Organization and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, stemmed from a productive collaboration between the University of Siena and the National Cancer Institute of Naples Pascale Foundation, CROM.

Original Newswise Release         PubMed Abstract

Virtual Reality: An Escape From Painful and Stressful Medical Treatments

image-3-9-18-1Virtual reality (VR) technology allows users to immerse themselves in a three-dimensional computer-generated world, and despite being originally developed as an entertainment tool, over the last two decades VR has found a variety of applications in health care. Among these applications, which include treatment of phobias and anxiety disorders; cognitive and physical rehabilitation; pain management; treatment of eating disorders and obesity; surgical training and aid in surgical planning and performance, VR has shown promise in several clinical trials assessing its possible utility as a distraction tool to alleviate pain and distress during medical procedures.

A review article, recently published in The Clinical Journal of Pain, provides a comprehensive overview of the clinical studies using VR during several painful and stressful medical procedures, including burn injury treatments, chemotherapy, surgery, dental treatment, and other diagnostic and therapeutic procedures.

image-3-9-18-2“VR has proven to be very effective in relieving pain, even in patients subjected to extremely painful procedures, who do not receive proper relief with pharmacological treatments alone,” says Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., of the Sbarro Health Research Organization at Temple University, and University of Siena, Italy, and corresponding author of the article. “Moreover, VR decreases cancer-related symptoms in different settings, including during chemotherapy. This is remarkable, considering that identifying interventions able to enhance treatment tolerance is crucial to improve both patients’ quality of life and compliance to therapies, which, in turn, can increase their chances of recovery.”

“Despite these promising results, we wanted to point out that further studies involving a greater number of patients are needed both to generalize the observations and to establish predictive factors to select patients who are more likely to benefit from VR,”  says study author Paola Indovina of the Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking, ICAR-CNR, Naples. “Moreover, more efforts should be put into the evaluation of changes in physiological factors, which might provide objective confirmations of the patients’ self-report measures. Also, more studies should explore VR efficacy after several repeated sessions to assess possible long-term benefits of the VR intervention.”

“It is also important to note that most studies so far used relatively low-tech VR systems compared to the state-of-the-art systems available on the market today, which are more immersive, more user-friendly, more portable, and much less expensive,” adds coauthor Giuseppe De Pietro, Director of the Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking, ICAR-CNR, Naples, Italy. “Therefore, VR has the potential both to become more effective and to find a more widespread use.”

Journal Reference:

Indovina P, Barone D, Gallo L, Chirico A, De Pietro G, Giordano A. Virtual reality as a distraction intervention to relieve pain and distress during medical procedures: a comprehensive literature review. Clin J Pain, 2018.

Original Newswise Release

Repurposed Parasite Drug New Weapon Against Mesothelioma

Anthelmintic drug already approved to treat infections of pinworm parasite was shown to effectively impair both mesothelioma cell growth and migration.

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Mesothelioma, a very aggressive cancer, is mainly associated with exposure to asbestos. No effective therapies are currently available to treat mesothelioma, and the prognosis is extremely poor. Therefore, there is an urgent need to identify new possible therapeutic approaches.

Researchers challenged mesothelioma cells with pyrvinium pamoate, testing the potential to repurpose a drug already approved to treat infections of pinworm parasite. Analyzing at the molecular level, researchers found that the drug affected the expression of downstream genes in the WNT signaling pathway, which are implicated in mesothelioma aggressiveness and its resistance to conventional therapy.

Published in the Journal of Cell Physiology, the study was conducted by research groups lead by Dr. Antonio Giordano at the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Temple University, with collaborators at the University of Siena, Italy.

“These are encouraging results, especially considering that drug repositioning, using already approved drugs for new indications, is a promising strategy to identify active molecules for a more rapid and less expensive clinical translation compared to de novo drug development,” says study author Marcella Barbarino of the University of Siena.

“The results of this study represent a step forward in the development of new treatments for patients with mesothelioma. Pyrvinium pamoate is able to affect important features of mesothelioma aggressiveness, suggesting that the repurposing of this drug for mesothelioma treatment could represent a new promising therapeutic approach,” says Giordano.

The study was funded by the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) and the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation, and is dedicated to the memory of Mr. Vittorio Stortino.

Journal Reference: Barbarino M, Cesari D, Intruglio R, Indovina P, Namargedi A, Bertolino FM, Bottaro ME, Delaram R, Bellan C, Giordano A. Possible repurposing of pyrvinium pamoate for the treatment of mesothelioma: a pre-clinical assessment. J Cell Physiol, 2018.

 Original Newswise Release                            PubMed Abstract

 

Diverse Role of CDK9 Gene in Cell Regulation Continues to Reveal Cancer Treatment Targets 25 Years After Discovery

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A gene discovered by Temple University researchers has proved to be an important target for cancer therapy, with the discovery of its roles in controlling cell proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and DNA repair. The mutli-functional kinase CDK9 (cyclin-dependent kinase 9) is considered a relatively tractable target for drug discovery and provides a route for the indirect targeting of other gene expression, such as MCL-1 and MYC, which themselves are implicated in cancer progression but are more challenging targets for drug discovery.

“If CDK9 is inhibited or blocked,” says Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., “it prevents the promotion of differentiation, suggesting that the inhibition of CDK9 leads to selective down-regulation of cell survival genes controlled by super enhancers such as MCL-1, MYC, and cyclin D1.”

The gene for CDK9 was first discovered by Giordano in 1994, the first of many studies of CDK9 developed at the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia. Over the past 25 years, CDK9 has proven to play many different roles. As discussed in a review published last week in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, the functions of CDK9 include cellular differentiation, controlling processes such as transcription, balancing the process of cellular differentiation and apoptosis (programmed cell death), as well as regulating transcription of human immunodeficiencty virus (HIV), all of which suggests potential for targeting this kinase in cancer therapy to control or block key cellular processes.

To thoroughly assess the potential to leverage these multiple functions for combination therapies with CDK9, a variety of inhibitors have been investigated in preclinical and clinical studies. Results have demonstrated antiapoptotic and antitumor effects.

“This is important from a clinical point of view,” says Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute, where he is actively investigating the role of CDK9 inhibitors as therapeutics for a variety of hematologic cancers and solid tumors. Based on the body of research describing the role of CDK9 in acute myeloid leukemia (AML), Dr. Giordano suggests that, “targeting the CDK9 pathway, which is dysregulated in AML, is a very attractive approach.”

“Many studies demonstrate that dysregulation of the CDK9 pathway has been observed in human tumors such as lymphoma, prostate cancer, neuroblastoma and others,” says Dr. Silvia Boffo, PhD, research assistant professor at the Sbarro Institute, “and the CDK9-related pathway has emerged as a prioritized target for cancer therapy across a range of different tumor types.”

An immunologic role for CDK9 has also been discovered and was reported in Oncogene by Dr. Giordano, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Siena in Italy. They have shown that it interacts with gp130, the receptor of the Interleukin-6 (IL-6) family of cytokines. “This should allow us to take advantage of IL-6 as therapeutic agents for targeted therapy in selected histotypes of human cancer,” Giordano says.

“As CDK9 inhibitors are nonselective, predictive biomarkers that may help identify patients most likely to respond to CDK9 inhibitors are now being utilized, with the goal of improving efficacy and safety,” concludes Dr. Giordano.

Original Newswise release         Pubmed Abstract

How Fluctuations in Sex Hormones Impact AMD

MDMag — The pathogenesis of conditions of the eye such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD) could be impacted by gender-based differences in hormone fluctuations.

Newly published data from a team of investigators from Temple University’s Sbarro Institute has found that variations in sex steroid homeostasis have an effect on the physiology of human male retinal-pigment epithelial cells (RPEs), which are impacted by the inflammation caused by AMD.

According to the authors, the data from this study show high clinical significance as it considers these steroid fluctuations as the prompters of locale changes in the retina. These changes then are able to impact the pathological situation that occur along with aging in the non-reproductive systems—like the eye.

“The main goal of our investigation was to define whether male gender can be considered a risk factor in developing age-related retinal disease including AMD,” Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD, the director of the Sbarro Institute at Temple University, and lead author, told MD Magazine. “Estrogens have historically been associated with women’s physiology, however, over the last 2 decades, several studies have shown that these hormones play a fundamental role in men.”

The pathogenesis of AMD is still not understood despite intense clinical research, although there has been a link, while controversial, found between AMD and gender—more specifically, the effects on RPEs when exposed habitually to estradiol, a reproductive hormone which aids in treating the symptoms caused by menopause, and progesterone, often used to aid in the treatment of uterine changes for post-menopausal women.

“To mimic sex steroid hormone fluctuations occurring with aging, we exposed retinal pigment epithelial cells, ARPE-19, to acute, prolonged or chronic estradiol and progesterone challenges,” Carlo Astarita, PhD, from the University of Siena and a researcher at Temple, as well as coauthor of the study, said in a statement.

Astarita noted that the researchers found that chronic estradiol treatment resulted in RPE cell death via necrosis, occurring due to mechanisms involving the subcellular localization of the retinoblastoma-related protein pRb2/p130 and the extracellular plasminogen activator inhibitor type-2 (PAI-2).

Conversely, the study revealed that chronic exposure to progesterone caused the nuclear subcellular rearrangement and co-immunolocalization of pRb2/p130 with PAI-2. Additionally, it induced the accumulation of cells in the G2/M phase, and a subsequent reduction in necrosis and a surge in apoptosis.

“Today, the mechanisms governing the action of sex steroid hormones in maintaining the health of the eye are still largely unknown and our investigation offers the unique opportunity to unravel the effects of sex hormones,” Mina Massaro-Giordano, MD, a co-author of the study and professor of Ophthalmology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, said. “Not only in determining gender differences, but also in affecting the physiology of non-reproductive systems, such as the eye.”

“The biology underlying gender-related circumstances should be considered by the clinicians involved in the treatment of eye conditions such as AMD,” Giordano added.

The study’s findings had implication for the transgender community as well, a community that Giordano referred to as “underserved.”

“Exogenous administration of physiologically significant amounts of sex hormones for long periods of time is a common clinical practice for transgender patients seeking sex reassignment,” he said.

The study received funding in part from a grant from the Ken and Ann Douglas Charitable Foundation and the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO).

The study, “Effect of sex steroid hormone fluctuations in the pathophysiology of male- retinal pigment epithelial cells,” was published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

Copied from MDMag post          PubMed Abstract      Article at Journal of Cellular Physiology

Cancer DNA Sequencing Has Potential, but Not a Magic Bullet, Says Expert

recent report by NPR science writer Richard Harris explores the efficacy of DNA sequencing in the treatment of cancer. Antonio Giordano, MD, PhD, President of the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) at Temple University comments on the potential, and the shortfalls, of this strategy in both the clinical and research setting.

“Only a few of the genetic mutations that occur in cancer actually act as ‘drivers’ to tumor malignancy,” Giordano says. “Most act simply as ‘passengers’ in the tumor.”

“This makes finding a genetic target for treatment like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Giordano.

With research focused on cell cycle mechanisms for over 30 years, Giordano’s work has often concentrated on the impact that genetic mutation has on natural cellular processes and the subsequent effect on the growth and spread of cancer.

“We have identified proteins which act as the engine of the cells, such as the cyclin-dependent kinases, as well as a key member of the retinoblastoma family of tumor suppressors which act as the ‘brakes’ on tumor growth,” says Giordano. “Based on this fundamental knowledge, with my collaborator Dr Francesca Pentimalli, we are currently developing strategies that can specifically target these mechanisms in cancer cells.”

“Many therapies are aimed at inhibiting active oncogenes, often identified through DNA sequencing,” Giordano says. “Alternatively, we are testing drugs designed to restore the body’s natural ability of the retinoblastoma protein RBL2/p130 to suppress cancer.”

“We predict this will be successful in treating cancer types in which the RBL2/p130 ability to inhibit tumor growth is suppressed by other oncogenic pathways, rather than mutated itself,” says Giordano.

The major difficulty in using DNA sequencing to identify a treatment target, Dr. Giordano says, lies in the heterogeneic nature of tumors.

“No tumor is identical to another from the molecular point of view, and, even a tumor from a single individual changes over time. Subpopulations and mutations occur as the tumor develops, through progression, and after it is challenged therapeutically,” Giordano says.

“This often renders DNA sequencing insufficient on its own to capture the complexity of tumour cells’ genetic machinery. Eventually the tumour microenvironment affects the stability and function of the protein coded by DNA and can ‘muddy the water’ when it comes to identifying a single genetic treatment target,” says Giordano.

“Fortunately, many alterations in cancer affect a limited number of cancer signalling pathways, and we already have therapeutic tools for many of these targeted genes in our anticancer drug arsenal,” Giordano says.

Lastly, Giordano believes more emphasis should be placed on effective communication of scientific breakthroughs to doctors and patients.

“Cancer DNA sequencing, and even other types of profiling, can be very informative,” says Giordano, “but the main hurdle is the cost-effectiveness of these approaches which cannot be routinely used in the clinical practice.”

“For example, late mutation can occur during the natural progress of tumor growth, and these sometimes act as a marker of resistance to treatment,” says Giordano. ”Similar to the story on NPR about Ben Stern, a patient in which a previously treated tumor had grown back, doctors and patients should consider the timing and signs of when DNA sequencing may offer a solution.”

“But sensational announcements should be avoided,” cautions Giordano, “and clinicians should avoid looking to DNA sequencing as a ‘magic bullet.’”

“The winning recipe must be to build on step-by-step achievements of research aimed at the same target: to improve the survival of patients with cancer,” Giordano concludes.

Original Newswise Release

Detecting Pompe Disease with More Accuracy Key to Urgent Intervention

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Credit: Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO)
“Vacuolated PAS positive lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of Pompe patients”

Researchers identified a new, more sensitive screening test to recognize Pompe disease, a metabolic disorder affecting cellular processing of glycogen in numerous tissues of the body. The test detects the presence of more than four lymphocytes containing glycogen in blood films of subjects with suspicious neuromuscular disease, and has demonstrated 100% sensitivity and 94% specificity identifying patients with Pompe disease. Moreover, positivity of vacuolated lymphocytes to the Periodic-Acid Schiff staining (PAS) seems to be an hallmark of autophagic myopathies. This new method of detection will allow clinicians to differentiate Pompe disease and autophagic myopathies from other neuromuscular disorders more accurately.

The study was published online in December 2017, in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

Pompe disease, also known as Glycogen storage disease type II, is a metabolic disorder caused by an accumulation of glycogen in the lysosomes due to a deficiency of alpha-glucosidase, a lysosomal enzyme acid. The build-up of glycogen affects various body tissues, particularly heart, skeletal and respiratory muscles, as well as lymphocytes in peripheral blood. The classic infantile form of Pompe disease, presenting with marked generalized muscle weakness and severe hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, rapidly progresses to a fatal outcome. The late-onset form is characterized by slowly progressive myopathy involving proximal, limb-girdle, paraspinal, and respiratory muscles without cardiac involvement. Vacuolar myopathy typical of Pompe disease is the most frequent myopathy due to an impairment of autophagy, the main natural mechanism necessary to degrade and recycle cellular components.

Enzyme replacement therapy for Pompe disease became available in 2006 and resulted in dramatic reduction of mortality and morbidity for Pompe patients. The discovery and commercialization of this therapy figure prominently in the plot of the 2010 film “Extraordinary Measures,” starring Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser. Since an early start of therapy is associated with better clinical outcomes, early diagnosis is essential in order to achieve the maximum benefit.

The research was conducted by a team of scientists lead by Dr. Simone Sampaolo and Mariarosa AB Melone, Department of  Medicine, Surgery, Neurology, Metabolic and Aging Science, Reference Center for Neurological and Neuromuscular Rare Disease, University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli”, Naples, in collaboration with Dr. Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Department of Biology at Temple University, Philadelphia.

Pompe disease is an underdiagnosed disorder, and considering that therapy is now available, early diagnosis is crucial to obtain the best prognosis. This research proposes a reliable, cheap, simple, first-level screening method to support the diagnosis of autophagic vacuolar myopathy as Pompe disease. The test is minimally invasive and could be used as a screening test in high-risk populations, such as pregnant women and people with a family history of neuromuscular disorders.

Newswise Original Release         PubMed Abstract     Journal of Cellular Physiology

Celebrating Our Women’s Research Team!

At S.H.R.O. we are so proud of the remarkable advances our researchers are contributing to the field of medical research.

Members of our Women’s Research Team are currently studying mechanisms contributing to breast, lung, ovarian, and colon cancer.

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GoFundMe to Benefit our Women-Led Research Initiatives and Professional Advances

This month to celebrate our women scientists we are launching a GoFundMe campaign where all proceeds will go towards women-led research projects and further medical education aimed at curing and diagnosing cancer.

DONATE TO SUPPORT OUR WOMEN SCIENTISTS TODAY!   

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Scientist of the Month

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Congratulations Mia Robb, Future Dr. Robb and Scientist of the Month!

We are very happy to announce that our scientist Mia Robb was just accepted into PCOM’s medical class of 2018! Mia has worked at S.H.R.O. for the last 9 years and we are so proud of her continued commitment to the field.

As part of our GoFundMe campaign this month we will be donating 25% of all proceeds raised to begin a scholarship fund for Mia’s medical school.

 

From Medical Discovery to Food and Fine Arts, Italian-American Contributions Celebrated at Annual Foundation Conference

 

Newswise — At this year’s 42nd annual NIAF Gala Weekend at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in D.C., all aspects of Italian heritage were celebrated, including food, the fine arts, and scientific discovery. The weekend’s events included the medical conference, “Mediterranean Diet, Human Health and Longevity,” sharing the latest in research into a vital part of Italian culture –– diet and food. Conference presentations explored how the recipes of Italian grandmothers are among the healthiest in the world and can even help fight disease, such as cancer.

Organized in collaboration with the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) at Temple University, the November 4, 2017 conference included opening remarks by SHRO President Antonio Giordano, and the presentation of the Giovan Giacomo Giordano NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award for Ethics and Creativity in Medical Research. The award was established in memory of Antonio Giordano’s father, Giovan Giacomo Giordano, a renowned pathologist and former professor  of the Department of Anatomic Pathology at the University of Naples and chairman of the Pathology Department of the National Cancer Institute of Naples “Pascale,” who dedicated much of his life to cancer research.

“Italians have been at the forefront of scientific discovery since the time of the Romans, and this is just an extension of that history,” said Gabriel Battista, Co-Chairman of the NIAF Board of Directors. “For many Italians, this researcher has confirmed what they already knew.”

Battista’s parents were born in Italy and he grew up eating the Mediterranean Diet. Today, his favorite dish consists of his homemade marinara sauce, which is made with tomatoes he finds at a farm, paired with a good bucatini.

“This isn’t a surgical procedure or a pill, it’s really good food,” said Immaculata De Vivo,  professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, whose research has been dedicated to the mechanisms of cancer. “There really is no downside to promoting this diet.”

De Vivo explained that the Mediterranean Diet consists of little red meat, fish as the main source of protein, olive oil as a source of fat, and lots of grains, fruits and vegetables. She added that this was originally a diet for poor farmers who grew all of their own food and ate in small portions.

In an effort to understand the Mediterranean Diet as it relates to the mechanisms of cancer, De Vivo has conducted research on telomeres, which are found at the ends of human chromosomes.

Over time, a person’s telomeres become shorter as a natural part of aging. However, De Vivo found that an unhealthy diet can contribute to the shortening of telomeres at an unnaturally quick rate, which can make a person more susceptible to disease. When participating in diets such as the Mediterranean Diet, telomeres become stronger and shorten at a normal rate.

“We all knew that the Mediterranean Diet consisted of healthy foods, but this allowed us to look under the hood –– to understand why,” De Vivo said. “We found that it is the synergy of all of these ingredients, and maybe one glass of wine with a meal, that makes the diet healthy.”

As the king of the Mediterranean Diet and the second most-consumed food in the world, the tomato was also studied by the Sbarro Health Research Organization, alongside researchers at the University of Siena in Italy.

Their research found that the genetic characteristics of San Marzano and Corbarino tomatoes help block molecules involved in cell division, slowing or sometimes stopping the spread of cancer cells, such as gastric cancer.

“The term, ‘We are what we eat,’ is true, but we don’t actually understand the meaning of the cliché,” said Antonio Giordano, the founder and director of Sbarro. “We go to a supermarket without truly knowing what is really healthy or what happens to us when we eat certain foods. By conducting this research, we are unveiling exactly what about certain tomatoes makes them healthy.”

The intersection of food and good health in the Italian community was on full display in the NIAF exhibit hall, as a crowd gathered around Romana Sciddurlo, grandmother of Rosella Rago, the host of the Italian cooking show “Cooking with Nonna.” Nonna Sciddurlo kneaded the pile of dough the way her own grandmother had taught her, adding a little water in intervals to ensure a perfect texture. She smiled as she recreated the generations-old pasta recipe from scratch. They cooked and served different recipes of Sciddurlo’s homemade sauce using the same garden-grown ingredients and unique techniques that Italian grandmothers have used for generations.

To them, preserving the recipes of Italian grandmothers means to celebrate the heritage of Italian culture –– a heritage that also includes sophistication, style, community, and scientific discovery.

In addition to the achievements on display at the medical conference, the NIAF Gala Weekend demonstrated how Italian heritage extends beyond good food and scientific discovery to include many aspects of the arts and the business world. Musical performances during the gala included Sicilian-born classical guitarist Tom Sinatra, and acclaimed vocalists Alfio Bonanno, James Valenti, and Vittorio Grigolo. Honoree Jon DeLuca, son of Fred DeLuca, founder of the Subway restaurant chain, addressed the gala pledging a large gift to the foundation’s scholarship program. Emmy-winning actor Michael Badalucco gave the evening’s welcoming remarks, including a recitation of a poem by Sicilian poet Nino Provensano. Fox Business Channel anchor Maria Bartiromo shared co-host duties with NIAF President John Viola, and honored guests in attendance included Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

“[NIAF] does a lot of good by offering scholarships and raising money. But that’s not all this organization is all about,” said Viola. “We are about community and family. We are about remembering where we came from and celebrating our heritage as Italians.”

Original Newswise Post

New Cancer Therapies Earn Sbarro Health Research Organization President Antonio Giordano 2017 CORE Prize for Oncology

The CORE Prize for Oncology 2017 was awarded to Professor Antonio Giordano for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of the cell cycle, which have established an understanding of the fundamental mechanisms at the basis of cancer and the development of a new class of anticancer therapeutics.

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Prof. Carmine Pinto, President of The Italian Society of Clinical Oncologists and Chairman of Oncology at the National Cancer Institute ‘Santa Maria Nuova’ of Reggio Emilia, presents the award to Prof. Giordao

 

Newswise — Reggio Emilia Italy, 22nd November, 2017 — The 2nd International Congress on “Clinical Needs and Translational Research in Oncology,” was held November 22-23, 2017 at the Centro Oncoematologico Regio Emilia (CORE), of the USL-IRCCS of Reggio Emilia, bringing together prominent oncologists from Europe and the United States.

The CORE Prize for Oncology 2017 was awarded to two prestigious researchers, Professor Luca Gianni, Director of the Department of Oncology of the IRCCS Hospital, S. Raffaele of Milan, and Professor Antonio Giordano, Director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Temple University of Philadelphia (USA), and Professor of Anatomy and Pathology of the University of Siena. Prof. Giordano was honored for his groundbreaking discoveries in the field of the cell cycle which have allowed for an understanding of the fundamental mechanisms at the basis of cancer and the development of a new class of anticancer therapeutics.

“It is a privilege for us,” says Dr. Carmine Pinto, Director of Medical Oncology, President of the Conference and former President of the Italian Association of Medical Oncology, “to be able to award the CORE Prize for Oncology 2017 to these two outstanding scientists. The discovery of the tumor suppressor RBL2/p130 by Professor Giordano has paved the way for the identification of key mechanisms underlying cell cycle regulation and new therapeutic possibilities, from molecular drug therapies to the prospects of gene therapy. Two further outcomes of these studies, impacting on care strategies, were then the identification of two additional cyclin dependent kinases, CDK9 and CDK10, and of the NSPs (Novel Structure Proteins) a new protein structure related to cell division.”

Gianni was cited for his international clinical trials for neo-adjuvant breast cancer, which advanced the treatment of breast cancer patients through the creation of a sensitivity/resistance rating for drug therapies used in both HER2 positive and negative patients, changing the paradigm of treatment for these women.

The meeting addressed issues related to the identification of new molecular targets for tumor diagnosis and treatment, and their tissue and blood determinations, combining research, innovative technology, and therapies. One focus was also devoted to immunotherapy, one of the newer areas of promise in cancer care. Participants discussed how to identify the pathologies and the patients who can benefit most from immunotherapy both in terms of healing and prolonged survival. The topic of multidisciplinary integrated treatments, involving both oncologists, radiotherapists and surgeons, for treating rectum tumors, liver metastases from colon cancer, and tumors of the head-neck area will be analyzed also for as concerns the criticalities for resources and organizational aspects. Finally, discussions addressed issues concerning drug access and public health, in order to optimize resources in terms of value, cost and effectiveness, with representatives of the Italian Medicines Agency (AIFA), Oncologic Networks and Regions working together with oncologists, patients and other stakeholders.

This second international meeting is an accomplishment for the department of oncology at Reggio Emilia, which is at the forefront of both cancer research and care. Owing to a well-integrated multidisciplinary approach, including primary prevention, screening, therapy, rehabilitation and palliative care, Reggio Emilia earned the highest rates of survival for certain cancers among other Italian cities and regions. The commitment to clinical research, which introduces new care strategies and makes innovative medicines available to patients, coupled with the results of translational research and the Tumor Registry, make Reggio Emilia an important reference point for Oncology in Italy and internationally.

During the Congress, in conjunction with the scientific work, attendees were also privileged to visit an exhibition of works by the painter Augusto Daolio, made possible by the Association Augusto per la Vita.

Original Newswise release