Angelo Di Leo, MD, PhD
Head of Sandro Pitigliani Medical Oncology Unit
Department of Oncology
Hospital of Prato, Istituto Toscani Tumori
2013-2014 BCRF Projects:
Dr. Di Leo is exploring the differential sensitivities of breast cancer subtypes to chemotherapeutic agents that directly damage the DNA of cancer cells, compared with non-DNA-damaging chemotherapy. In addition, his team is evaluating cancer cells circulating in the blood, known as circulating tumor cells (CTCs). These cells are also known as tumor-initiating cells and are thought to trigger the growth and expansion of cancer into otherwise healthy tissues. Dr. Di Leo’s team is refining a method that first captures CTCs, then isolates single pure CTCs. Specific markers on CTCs can then be assessed to improve understanding of both of breast cancer biology and why some treatments work better than others. They are also looking at whether CTCs are present after breast cancer surgery and if these cells can be measured and analyzed for specific genetic markers in order to improve understanding of cancer biology and behavior.
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. There is much exciting data emerging about metabolic changes associated with breast cancer. Drs. Di Leo and Fornier are using metabolomics –the rapid, high throughput characterization of the small molecule metabolites found in an organism – to explore a model in which serum detectable metabolic profiles correlate with disease recurrence. Furthermore, they are evaluating whether the combination of metabolomics and the 21 gene recurrence score (OncotypeDx®) genomic test, might further improve prediction of disease recurrence, and thus 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.