The Second Conference of Pulmonary Oncology, ‘From prevention to therapy of advanced disease’, took place in Bari. The event, organized by IRCCS ‘Giovanni Paolo II’ Cancer Institute in Bari, in collaboration with IASLC, the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, focused on the prevention of lung cancer with the aim of defining causes and cures.
Among the prestigious guests was Professor Gianluigi De Gennaro, researcher at the Department of Biology of the University of Bari ‘Aldo Moro’ and ‘scientific soul’ of the ‘Inside the Breath’ cluster. During the first session of the conference, De Gennaro presented the results achieved by the research group he has coordinated at the University of Bari.
“How stimulating it is to be here for the second year in a row,” De Gennaro began. “I have entitled my speech ‘A chemist for prevention’, which is the starting point of the path that runs all the way from prevention to advanced therapy. The coordinating group at the University of Bari has been dealing with primary prevention for more than 20 years.”
The professor then presented the main achievements of his working group, which has distinguished itself over the years for being one of the first (in 2003) to talk about benzo[a]pyrene (one of the first substances whose carcinogenicity was proven) and which spearheaded the largest campaign against it in Taranto in 2005.
De Gennaro then reported on the studies carried out concerning air quality, not just outdoors but, above all, indoors: “We have little knowledge about the chemicals we bring into our homes, the ventilation capabilities of our apartments and the qualities of furnishing materials. The impact inside closed environments is greater than that of outdoor ones: lately we have worked on the possibility of eliminating indoor pollutants through mechanical systems and, above all, through plants such as the Tillandsia, plants that absorb their food from the leaves, breaking down the pollutants present in the atmosphere.”
The final part of his talk was dedicated to breath analysis and the Mistral sampler. “By analysing the exhaled breath, it is possible to retrieve information on what elements are present, such as gaseous metabolites. We are used to ascertaining metabolites in other biological fluids. But the novelty of ‘breathomics’ is that we can now carry out in-depth analyses at the level of pulmonary alveoli. Last year I told you about two studies conducted separately – in 2010 and 2013 – on mesothelioma and colorectal cancer. Those two studies that have added a high level of specificity to the measurement and have allowed us to work not only on the methodology, but also on the instrumentation.”
Professor De Gennaro then showed the audience Mistral, the new exhaled breath sampler, which will be fully operational in Bari from the beginning of next month, both at the Oncology Center and at the Policlinico. “It’s wonderful to see that all the effort spent last year has now become a real-life instrument. The tool has already been presented at the Breath Summit in Maastricht, where it was well received by the scientific community, and has won several prizes, including Puglia Premia Salute.”
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