76168 - Molecular Oncology and Immunopathology

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Good health and well-being Gender equality Clean water and sanitation Life on land

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Describe the transformed phenotype and its molecular and cellular basis, the pathogenesis of cancer, including the interactions with the microenvironment and the immune system, and molecular cancer progression up to the metastatic diffusion. Identify the phases of development and the tumor types relevant to human oncology and define molecular targets for innovative targeted therapies. Discuss the pathogenetic mechanisms of the main immune pathologies (immunodeficiencies, allergy, autoimmunity), as well as the role of the immune system in the natural and vaccine-elicited immunity to infectious agents, cell and organ transplants, and cancer.

Course contents


Infectious immunity


Transplantation immunity

Hypersensitivity: Allergy and Autoimmunity




Introduction, definitions and classification
Basic Oncology and Medical Oncology
The size of the problem
Benign and malignant tumors

Tumors are genic diseases
Oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, gatekeeper and caretaker
Mechanisms of cancer gene activation/inactivation and their consequences
Therapeutic implications of oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes
Genetic predispositions

The neoplastic phenotype
Growth, Differentiation, Cell death
Genomic instability
Morphological and metabolic features

Natural history
Monoclonality, Heterogeneity
Preneoplastic lesions

The causes of cancer
Exogenous and endogenous carcinogens
Biological and molecular mechanisms of physical, chemical and biological carcinogenesis
Cancer epidemiology
Primary, secondary and tertiary cancer prevention. Chemoprevention. Immunoprevention

Tumor-host relationships
The metastatic process
Paraneoplastic syndromes
Tumor immunology

Fundamentals of cancer therapy
Basis and molecular/biological mechanisms of cancer therapy: radiation therapy, drugs, biological and immunological agents, gene therapy


  • Abbas et al: Cellular and Molecular Immunology, Elsevier.
  • Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease (Robbins Pathology), Elsevier.
  • Pontieri, Russo, Frati: Patologia Generale, (only chapters on oncology), Piccin.
  • Boyle, Levin: World Cancer Report 2008. IARC, Download free PDF file at www.iarc.fr
  • Weinberg: The Biology of Cancer, Garland Science.
  • Pecorino: Molecular Biology of Cancer, Oxford University Press.
  • DeVita, Lawrence, Rosenberg: Cancer, Principles and Practice of Oncology, LWW.

Teaching methods


Assessment methods

The oral exam will cover all the subjects of the course. For students of Oncology courses ("corsi mutuati"), the exam will exclude Immunopathology.

The student has to answer questions to demonstrate his/her knowledge of specific subjects, the ability to understand the links between different parts of the course, and the use of appropriate terminology.

Gradation of the final grade:

Insufficient: lack of preparation. Serious and repeated conceptual errors.

18-19: knowledge of the basic concepts without serious gaps. Exposition of concepts and language as a whole acceptable.

20-24: knowledge of the basic concepts without gaps. Ability to analyze and link in partial autonomy. Exposure of discrete concepts and language.

25-29: preparation of good or very good level or even excellent preparation but with inaccuracies in the presentation that compromise the achievement of full marks. Ability to analyze and link independently. Exposure of concepts in the right succession and mastery of the language.

30-30L: full preparation, consolidated and without inaccuracies on the topics covered in the course. Ability to promptly frame the topic. Ability to analyze and connect independently. Concepts in the right succession and full command of the specific language.


Teaching tools

All the slides used for lectures are made available to the students.

Office hours

See the website of Pier Luigi Lollini