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Academic year 2017/2018

Course ID
Teaching staff
Paola Costelli
Prof. Luca Durelli
Degree course
Cellular and Molecular Biology
1st year
Course disciplinary sector (SSD)
MED/04 - patologia generale
Formal authority
Lessons optional and laboratories mandatory
- Regulation of gene expression and signal transduction
- Bases of cellular physiology
- Bases of metabolic biochemistry
- Fundaments in genetics
- Good knowledge of cellular biology, ciytology and histology
- Bases of anatomy and physiology
Propedeutic for
Immunopathology and Physiopathology, Medical and Cancer Genetics

Sommario del corso


Course objectives

The teaching fits with the general objectives of the Master in Cellular and Molecular Biology, that  is aimed to provide students a deep and integrated knowledge of biological systems, from molecules to the whole organisms, and the ability to apply such knowledge in specific fields such as biotechnologies, biomedicine and neurosciences. The teaching will focus on the molecular bases of human diseases, including oncology. 


Results of learning outcomes

At the end of the teaching students will be able to establish connections between molecular alterations and the pathogenesis of disease processes at high integration levels (subcellular compartments, cells, tissues/organs and organism). The following specific competencies will be acquired:


- to describe the molecular alterations involved in the pathogenesis of the most frequent human diseases;

- to identify the role played by the inflammatory process in the onset and progression of human pathologies;

- to show the influence of both genetic and epigenetic background in the development of diseases;

- to understand the relevance of the environment in the occurrence of pathological states

- to recognize the reciprocal interplay of the different organ/tissue compartments in the disease progression;

- to critically read and discuss scientific papers dealing with the mechanisms underlying diseases;



At the end of the teaching the students will be able to:

- evaluate and provide interpretation of experimental data;

- integrate the knowledge obtained in the present teaching with that deriving from other teachings , with particular emphasis to the understading of pathogenetic mechanisms.


Students will develop the ability to:

- produce oral and/or written communications with an adequate technical language, in both italian and english;

- perform group working.



Course delivery

The organization of the course is the following: 44 hours  will be dedicated to class and seminars, 4 hour to practicing the discussion of scientific papers. Attendance to every type of class is optional, though recommended.


Learning assessment methods

Midterm Multidisciplinary Test (MMT, optional) - This test will be in common with the courses of  Advanced Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Cell Physiology, and Virology. It will be a Moodle-based test of 30 questions (8 for each course): 28 with a variety of formats (multiple choice, true/false, filling in checklists....) and four open questions. The optional midterm Multidisciplinary test will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the three courses, provided this will be passed in the first session (January-February 2018). Correspondence between Midterm Multidisciplinary Test vote and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23/32, 0.5 points; 24-25/32, 1 points; 26-27/32, 1.5 points; 28-30/32, 2 points. 

Multidisciplinary Research Essay (MRE, optional) - This at-home assignment will be in common with the courses of Advanced Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Cell Physiology and Virology, and will refer to methodologies and technical approaches relevant to the four courses. The essay (up to 2000 characters + figures, tables and references) will be prepared by groups of normally three students and presented oraly by the end of the semester. The Multidisciplinary Research Essay will give rise to additional points to the final grade of final exam of each of the four courses, provided this will be passed in the first exam session (January-February 2018). Correspondence between vote to the Multidisciplinary Research Essay and additional points for final exams is as follows: 22-23, 0.5 points; 24-25, 1 points; 26-27, 1.5 points; 28-30, 2 points. 

Final exam - This exam will be a Moodle-based test of 6 questions (5 for students of the Neurobiological curriculum, that will complete their mark with prof. Durelli's evalulation), to be performed in 120 minutes. Questions are mainly open, aimed at evaluating the specific knowledge, the acquisition of an appropriate technical language, the skill for both synthesis and speach organization.  Since all the didactic material is available online, no differences will be made among students that have physically attended the teaching or not. Max punctuation is 30/30, every question having the same weight. Particularly relevant executions will be marked cum laude. Any additional points obtained by MMT and MRE will be added to the final exam of the first exam session (January-February 2018). 

Academic conduct: The penality for course-related dishonesty (ei. cheating on exams, plagism, etc) will be failure for the entire course.


Support activities

Seminars held during the teaching period.



Molecular Pathology

 Disease and syndrome. Extrinsic and intrinsic causes of disease and their interactions. Cellular responses to stress and toxic insults: adaptation, injury and death. Oxidative stress. Ischemia-reperfusion damage.

Physiological and pathological ageing. Progeroid syndromes. Tissue and cellular senescence.

DNA repair defects and their consequences. Germ cells, stem cells, neoplastic cells.

Genetic diseases. Causes and mechanisms of mutation. Chromosomes: structural and numerical alterations. Trinucleotide repeat pathologies (X-fragile). Genomic imprinting (Prader-Willy syndrome). Monogenic diseases. Lysosomal storage diseases

Acute inflammation: cells and mediators. Evolution. Chronic inflammation. Fibroproliferative diseases: atherosclerosis and cirrhosis

Endoplasmic reticulum stress. Protein misfolding. Intracellular protein accumulation as pathogenetic mechanism. Amyloidosis and neurodegenerative diseases.

Erythrocyte physiopathology: molecular bases of haemoglobin and erythrocyte production and degradation. Mechanisms of anemia.

Histopathology on the web, paper discussion


 The nature of cancer: monoclonality, heterogeneity. Epidemiology. Classification. Lifestyle and cancer.

 Carcinogenesis as a multifactorial progressive process. Inflammation and cancer

 Cancer stem cells.

 Oncogenes and oncosuppressor genes


 Invasion and metastasis

 Tumor etiology. Viral carcinogenesis. Chemical carcinogenesis

 Tumor-host interaction-1: immune response to tumors         

Tumor host interaction-2: obesity, metabolic syndrome and cancer 

Tumor host interaction-3: cancer cachexia 

Outline of conventional and molecular therapeutic approaches to neoplastic diseases.

Paper discussion

Suggested readings and bibliography


Slides from lectures and papers/videos available on the Moodle platform (


- Kumar, Abbas, Aster Robbins & Cotran Pathologic Basis of Disease, 9th edition, Elsevier

- Weinberg RA. The biology of Cancer, 2nd ed, 2014 Garland Science

-Tannock IA, Hill R, Bristow R, Harrington L. The basic science of Oncology. 5th edition, 2013, Mc Graw-Hill Education

- DeVita, Hellman, and Rosenberg's Cancer: Principles & Practice of Oncology 8th edition

Last update: 29/09/2017 08:59
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