Molecular Oncology

Molecular Oncology 2


The Molecular Oncology Department is a translational research-oriented Department with the major goals to enhance the understanding of the molecular basis of cancer, to act as a catalyst for translational cancer research, and to promote the movement of that knowledge into the prevention and management of cancer.

The department is composed of five sections: Cancer Biology & Experimental Therapeutics; Molecular Endocrinology; Cancer Epigenetics; Translational Cancer Research and Computational Oncology. We use cutting-edge technologies and animal models to conduct cancer research on several major themes including genomics, epigenetics, tumor microenvironment, Circulating biomarkers, cancer therapeutics, gene expression and computational oncology. We are studying various types of cancer, including Breast Cancer, Ovarian Cancer, Thyroid Cancer and Colon Cancer. Furthermore, all the sections are involved in various types of Training and Education programs for fellows, graduate and undergraduate students to enhance their research skills and enable them to reach the next step in their careers. The high productivity of the different sections has been documented over several years by the filing of several patents, the publication of significant number of peer-reviewed and high impact papers, the obtaining of extramural funds, and the graduation of several master and PhD students.

Focus Areas
Awareness: This program is educative with the major aim to highlight the well-known cancer risk factors such as smoking and obesity and explain their pro-carcinogenic effects.
Genomics: In this program we study the effects of mutations and variation in gene expression on tumor growth and spread as well as the response to therapy.
Epigenetics: This research program aims at the identification of epigenetically modified genes in blood cells as molecular biomarkers for the early prediction of cancer predisposition.
Tumor Microenvironment: This research program aims at understanding the role of the tumor microenvironment in the carcinogenesis process.
Cancer Therapeutics: Identification of novel anti-cancer drugs for efficient and tumor genetics-tailored therapies.
Computational Oncology: This research program aims to identify robust genomic biomarkers (“gene signature”) using computational biomedicine, network medicine and machine learning techniques.
Circulating Biomarkers: These blood circulating molecules constitute a novel tool for cancer early detection and prognosis.

List of Sections
Cancer Biology & Experimental Therapeutics Section
Cancer is a complex and heterogeneous genetic disease that results from the accumulation over age of a plethora of genetic and epigenetic alterations in various genes, which leads to uncontrolled cell proliferation and resistance to cell death. In addition, a higher order cell-cell interaction between cancer cells and their microenvironment is capital for tumor formation and spread. The major goals of this research section are to participate in understanding the fundamental processes of carcinogenesis, to elucidate the role of stromal and stem cells in cancer onset and spread, and the identification of novel molecules with potent anti-cancer effects. We are currently working on the DNA methyl-transferase (DNMT1) and the RNA binding protein (AUF1) as potential diagnostic and/or therapeutic targets. We are also exploring the potential use of the cytokines OPG and DCN for precision treatment of breast tumors. Our major aim is to translate our findings into clinical practice in order to improve patient care through clinical trials.

Molecular Endocrinology Section
The Molecular Endocrinology section focuses on two main aspects. The first is translational research on endocrine neoplasms, exploring the role of certain oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes in the pathogenesis of endocrine cancer and studying genetic mechanisms of endocrine tumors. Further, relate the molecular findings in these tumors relating the phenotypes with genotypes. Our aim is to define the molecular basis of the clinical variations that these tumors show in their presentations, response to therapy and prognosis. The second aspect of our work is to study genetic abnormalities in a number of genetic endocrine diseases such as hormone resistance syndromes, congenital hypothyroidism, disorders of sex development, etc.

Cancer Epigenetics Section
The major goals of this research section are to identify epigenetically altered cancer suppressor genes and non-coding RNA in peripheral white blood cells to be used as non-invasive biomarkers for the early prediction of cancer predisposition, and to identify natural compounds having epigenetic therapeutics effects. Our major aim is to translate our findings into early detection and cancer prevention programs to reduce the burden of cancer.

Computational Oncology Section
The major goals of this research section are to apply the latest breakthroughs in computational biomedicine, artificial intelligence, machine learning and data mining approaches, in order to identify robust genomic biomarkers for disease diagnosis, prognosis and potential therapeutic using integrated analysis of multi “omics” data. Our major aim is to translate our research output into advancement of healthcare.

Translational Cancer Research Section
The major goal is to support bi-directional interdisciplinary translational cancer research. We are interested in non-invasive methods utilized to follow up cancer treatment responses and early detection of relapsed tumors using circulating biomarkers.

List of Services
Computational Oncology provides research and consultancy services in the areas of computational medicine,
cancer genomics, statistical genetics, data mining, and bioinformatics.


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