Thymic Epithelial Tumors as a Model of Networking: Development of a Synergistic Strategy for Clinical and Translational Research Purposes

Enrico Melis, Enzo Gallo, Simona di Martino, Filippo Tommaso Gallina, Valentina Laquintana, Beatrice Casini, Paolo Visca, Federica Ganci, Gabriele Alessandrini, Mauro Caterino, Fabiana Letizia Cecere, Chiara Mandoj, Arianna Papadantonakis, Nicoletta De Bello, Rossano Lattanzio, Giovannella Palmieri, Marina Chiara Garassino, Nicolas Girard, Laura Conti, Giovanni BlandinoFrancesco Fazi, Francesco Facciolo, Edoardo Pescarmona, Gennaro Ciliberto, Mirella Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the group of thymic epithelial tumors (TET), thymomas often show either uncertain or explicit malignant biological behavior, local invasiveness, and intrathoracic relapse and are often difficult to manage. From the initial stages, thymic carcinomas tend to show aggressive behavior and extrathoracic spread. Moreover, the interplay of epithelial cells and thymocytes in thymomas causes complex immune derangement and related systemic autoimmune diseases. Due to their rare occurrence and to the limited funding opportunities available for rare tumors, it is challenging to make advances in clinical and translational research in TET. The authors of this paper are all members of a multidisciplinary clinical and research thoracic tumor team. Strong input was given to the team by long-standing expertise in TET in the Pathology Department. In addition, thanks to the collaboration between research units at our Institute as well as to national collaborations, over the last 10 years we were able to perform several tissue-based research studies. The most recent studies focused on microRNA and on functional studies on the thymic carcinoma cell line 1889c. The recent implementation of our biobank now provides us with a new tool for networking collaborative research activities. Moreover, the participation in a worldwide community such as ITMIG (International Thymic Malignancy Interest Group) has allowed us to significantly contribute toward fundamental projects/research both in tissue-based studies (The Cancer Genome Atlas) and in clinical studies (TNM staging of TET). Our achievements derive from constant commitment and long-standing experience in diagnosis and research in TET. New perspectives opened up due to the establishment of national [the Italian Collaborative Group for ThYmic MalignanciEs (TYME)] and European reference networks such as EURACAN, for an empowered joint clinical action in adult solid rare tumors. The challenge we face still lies in the advancement of clinical and basic science in thymic epithelial malignancies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number922
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - Jul 14 2020


  • biobank
  • microRNA
  • TCGA
  • thymic carcinoma
  • thymic epithelial tumors
  • thymoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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