Research Groups

Infections - Infections and Cancer Epidemiology Group

Objectives:

The Infections and Cancer Epidemiology (ICE) Group has been carrying out numerous international studies on the association between infection and cancer and the prevalence of cancer-associated infections at a population level. This work has allowed the accumulation of a vast biobank that includes hundreds of cancer tissue samples and thousands of samples of sera/plasma, exfoliated cells from the cervix uteri, and of the oral cavity. The value of these samples is accrued by the availability of extensive information on the corresponding study subjects (including a broad range of characteristics associated with cancer risk) and of accurate information on markers of viral or bacterial infection, obtained using PCR-based assays for DNA or Multiplex-ELISA for antibodies.

The majority of this biobank is made up of samples deriving from studies of human papillomavirus in women without (over 30,000 from more than 20 countries) or with cervical cancer or precancerous lesions. In large subsets of these women, testing for antibodies or DNA of other genital infections is also available. Samples are also available from studies on the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (tissues biopsies and sera/plasma) and HIV (mainly sera/plasma from HIV-infected people with or without cancer).

The ICE Group has also developed specific experience in design issues and statistical methods to evaluate the infection-cancer link and the existence of modifying factors. In addition to the use of the ICE Group biobank, we aim to start new epidemiological studies, in Europe and elsewhere, where collection of additional types of data/samples are deemed necessary for testing new hypotheses, as well as to characterise the cellular events induced by the infectious agents and define their role in neoplastic transformation.