Angelo Di Leo, MD, PhD
Head of Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Unit
2012-2013 BCRF Projects:
Department of Oncology
Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscani Tumori
In metastatic cancer or cancer that has spread, it is possible to detect a form of cells called circulating tumor cells (CTCs) which are also known as tumor-initiating cells, thought to trigger the growth and expansion of cancer into otherwise healthy tissues. Dr. Di Leo and colleagues have been using a technique known as CellSearch® to capture CTCs in order to evaluate the differences between a person's primary breast cancer biology and that of metastatic cancer biology. They have also been developing a novel CTC isolation technique using flow cytometry, which may be able to characterize CTCs better than CellSearch®. Furthermore, through this project, Dr. Di Leo and colleagues are exploring the differential sensitivities of certain breast
cancer subtypes to chemotherapeutic agents that directly damage the DNA of cancer cells, compared with non-DNA-damaging chemotherapy.
Dr. Di Leo will also be collaborating with fellow BCRF grantee, Dr. Monica N. Fornier (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) on a separate project on metabolomics. Metabolomics is a science that provides a dynamic portrait of the metabolic status of a biological system. In breast cancer, there may be a detectable metabolomic signal. Drs. Di Leo and Fornier are exploring a potential prognostic role for serum metabolomic profiles - metabolites and small molecules - in patients with early breast cancer.
More specifically, Drs. Di Leo and Fornier are looking to explore serum metabolomic profiles from women with early breast cancer who have been assessed for the likelihood of their cancer returning through OncotypeDx, a laboratory test which analyzes tumor types by using a multi-gene signature. They have commenced analysis of serum samples from these patients and anticipate another year before this project reaches completion.
Mid-year Progress: Different types of chemotherapy may be particularly active in some subtypes of breast cancer. Dr. Di Leo's team continues to explore the effects of DNA and non-DNA damaging chemotherapy in metastatic breast cancer. They are also researching novel techniques for measuring tumor markers and tumor characteristics on tumor cells in the blood. This may allow better prediction of response to chemotherapy as well as to other anticancer medicines.
In the collaboration with Dr. Fornier, there is much exciting data emerging about metabolic changes associated with breast cancer. Drs. Di Leo and Fornier are using metabolomics - the study of metabolites - to explore a model in which serum detectable metabolic profiles correlate with disease recurrence. This work might refine prognostication in individuals with early stage breast cancer.
Dr. Angelo Di Leo is currently Head of the Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Unit, and Chair of the Oncology Department, at the Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscano Tumori, Italy, a position which he took up in September 2003. The center is affiliated to the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG).
Dr. Di Leo graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Palermo (Italy) in 1988, received his postgraduate diploma in Medical Oncology from the University of Pavia (Italy) in 1992 and in 1996, received his European certification in Medical Oncology, which was issued by the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO). Dr. Di Leo received his training at the National Cancer Institute in Milan, where he worked for seven years until 1996. From 1996 to 2003 he worked at the Chemotherapy Unit of the Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels, where in 2000 he was appointed Associate Director and Medical Director of the BREAST. Dr. Di Leo was also Associate Member of the Oncology course teaching faculty at the Free University of Brussels.
Dr. Di Leo's main field of research is breast cancer and he has been involved in the coordination of a number of international, pivotal Phase III trials designed to evaluate the efficacy of new adjuvant therapies for breast cancer. Dr. Di Leo is also largely involved in the evaluation of molecular markers with potential predictive value in the treatment of breast cancer patients. Dr. Di Leo is a member of the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Cooperative Group (EBCTCG) steering committee and he has been a member of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) grants selection committee (2006-2009). Dr. Di Leo is the author of several articles that have been published in peer-reviewed international journals and has lectured extensively at national and international meetings.