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CODE 109047
ACADEMIC YEAR 2024/2025
CREDITS
SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINARY SECTOR BIO/13
LANGUAGE Italian
TEACHING LOCATION
  • GENOVA
SEMESTER 2° Semester
TEACHING MATERIALS AULAWEB

OVERVIEW

The course introduces the student to the genetic basis of cancer, the mechanisms of transformation, and the characterization of genetic and genomic variants underlying its onset and progression, with a special attention on  hereditary oncological syndromes, molecular genetics techniques and target therapies.

AIMS AND CONTENT

LEARNING OUTCOMES

The fundamental objective of the course is to provide students with the basis for explaining the genetic / molecular mechanisms underlying tumor transformation, from the initial stages to those of invasiveness and metastasis.

AIMS AND LEARNING OUTCOMES

At the end of the course, the student will be able familiar with the mechanisms underlying the neoplastic transformation starting from the genetic alterations, both germline and somatic, and to interpret the meaning of the genomic variants in the neoplastic transformation. During the course, the peculiar characteristics of the neoplastic cell will be studied, such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, angiogenesis, and the ability to metastasize. The different cellular pathways most altered in tumors, receptors, transcription factors, the role of oncogenes, tumor suppressors and carcinogens, new target therapies, resistance mechanisms, cancer epigenetics will be analyzed. A special focus will be on the onset mechanisms of sporadic tumors and the hereditary defects that lead to susceptibility to specific hereditary tumor syndromes. During the laboratory hours, the genetic tests used to highlight genetic alterations underlying the neoplastic transformation through next-generation sequencing (NGS) methods will be investigated.

PREREQUISITES

Basic genetics, cellular and molecular biology.

TEACHING METHODS

The course consists of 36 hours  lectures and  8-hours laboratory.

The laboratory will be held by the lecturers, assisted by laboratory tutors. A brief introduction is provided at the beginning of each laboratory activity to give the basic principles on which the molecular methodologies that will be used are based. Based on the number of students, groups of three / four students can be created. With the support of teachers/tutors, NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) techniques or targeted techniques for the search of pathogenetic variants will be applied to neoplastic tissue or circulating DNA.

Any Student with documented Specific Learning Disorders (SLD), or with any special needs, shall reach out to the Lecturer(s) and to the dedicated SLD Representative in the Department before class begins, in order to liase and arrange the specific teaching methods and ensure proper achievement of the learning aims and outcomes.

SYLLABUS/CONTENT

Introduction to the molecular basis of cancer. Milestones of seminal discoveries. The nature of cancer, cell proliferation, classification based on normal tissue of origin. Oncogenic viruses, cellular oncogenes, growth factors and receptors, signal transduction in cancer cells, and tumor suppressor genes. Cell cycle regulation and cancer, p53 and apoptosis, cell immortalization and angiogenesis. Stages of the tumorigenesis process. Genomic integrity, ability to metastasize. Cellular pathways most altered in tumors. Newly developed target therapies and resistance mechanisms. Epigenetics of Cancer. Complex models of tumorigenesis. Sporadic tumors. Hereditary-familial tumors and tumor syndromes.

RECOMMENDED READING/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Robert Weinberg - The biology of cancer - Ed Zanichelli

Lecture notes by the teacher

TEACHERS AND EXAM BOARD

LESSONS

LESSONS START

Second semester, according to calendar

Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy

EXAMS

EXAM DESCRIPTION

The exam consists in verifying - through a written test -multiple choice questions- the preparation acquired by the student with respect to the objectives of the teaching.

It takes place by means of a written multiple-choice test, 5 answers, with  one correct: 2 points for each correct answer. Number of questions: 15 (including one 3-point question for the award of honors).

Passing the written (obtainable with at least 8 correct answers out of 15) gives the possibility of admission to a possible oral test .  The oral will aim to assess not only the achievement of an adequate level of knowledge, but also the acquisition of the ability to critically analyze the topics covered in class, The student will also be asked to describe and respond on the practical topics covered in the laboratory hours. Both the ability to learn and the appropriateness of using correct terminology will be assessed.

ASSESSMENT METHODS

The parameters for assessing the student's preparation will mainly be based on the ability to critically reason and analyze the topics covered.