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Dr. Antonio Mazzocca

M.D., Ph.D.
D.E.T.O. University of Bari Medical School

Brief Biography:

Dr. Mazzocca received his Medical degree from the University of Bari, Italy, in 1994 and his PhD in Clinical Pathophysiology from the University of Florence, Italy, in 2001. From 2001 to 2004, he joined the Division of Cancer Biology and Angiogenesis of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, for the postdoctoral studies. As a fellow, he contributed significantly to defining some aspects of the molecular biology of metastasis, with particular focus on those tumors that preferentially metastasize to the liver (i.e. colon, breast and melanoma). His work at Harvard culminated in the identification and functional characterization of a soluble protein termed ADAM9-S (a molecule belonging to the family of ADAMs). His research has shown that this protein plays a pathogenic role in facilitating the infiltration and colonization of liver by metastatic tumors. He then moved to the Department of Pathology at the Medical Center of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, USA, where he continued to work on the pathogenesis of cancer and on issues concerning the cellular and molecular mechanisms of cancer biology and the metastatic process. He became an investigator in 2009 at the Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation,University of Bari Medical School. In this position, he conducted pre-clinical studies on the inhibition of TGF-β receptor I by using xenograft models of HCC aimed at testing the efficacy of new biological therapies for HCC. His most recent studies have shown that the preclinical use of inhibitors of the TGF-β signaling pathway (i.e. LY2109761) results in multiple synergistic down-stream effects which will likely improve the clinical outcome in HCC. Notably, he demonstrated that the pharmacological inhibition of the TGF-β signaling pathway leads to a reduction in vascular tumor invasion and neo-angiogenesis as well as the inhibition of the cross-talk between HCC and the stroma. Based on these recent findings, the working hypothesis is that targeting of the TGF-β signaling pathway may reveal a very promising therapeutic target for patients with HCC. Dr. Mazzocca’s research also focuses on the study of pathogenic mechanisms involved in the remodeling of ECM, liver fibrosis and cancer. In particular, he has been studying the pathogenic role of hepatic stellate cells (HSC), myofibroblasts, peritumoral fibroblasts (PTF) and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) during liver fibrogenesis and chiefly the role played by these cells in tumor-stroma interactions during the neoplastic process of the liver.



Academic positions:

2006-2007: Research Fellow – Department of Internal Medicine – University of Florence, Florence, Italy

2007-2009: Instructor in Pathology – Department of Pathology Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN USA.

2009-present: Assistant Professor – Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Section of Internal Medicine, Allergology and Clinical Immunology – University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy


Research interests:

Major research interests: primary and secondary liver tumors:

1) pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (tumor-stromal interactions, invasion and metastasis).

2) the role of the tumor microenvironment in the development and growth of liver metastasis.

3) Identification of molecular therapeutic targets and development of new drugs in liver cancer.


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