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Dr Francesco Crea

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Life Sciences
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences
  • francesco.crea

Professional biography

Degrees

2006 MD (cum laude), University of Pisa

2010, PhD (cum laude), Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies

Training

2008-2009 Guest Scientist, Cancer Stem Cell Section, National Cancer Institute at Fredercik, USA

2012-2015 Post Doctoral Fellow, BC Cancer Agency (Canada). 

Awards:

2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology Merit Award

2015 Multi Institutional Prostate Cancer Meeting \Poster Award

2014 Prostate Cancer Foundation BC post-doctoral Award

2013 Michael Smith Foundation Trainee Award

Editorial Board Memberships:

Epigenomics; The World Journal of Gastroenterology. 

Research interests

Non-coding RNAs (NC-RNAs). NC-RNAs represent a vast and largely unexplored area of the human transcriptome (Crea et al. Cancer and Met Rev 2014). We have studied the role of micro-RNAs and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) in prostate cancer progression. In particular, we have discovered and patented PCAT18, a prostate cancer-specific lncRNA that drives metastatic progression (Crea et al. Oncotarget 2014). We are currently developing therapeutic strategies to target PCAT18. 

Cancer Epigenetics. We have explored the role of epigenetic effectors as novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets in human neoplasms. 

1) We have demonstrated that an EZH2 (Polycomb) inhibitor effectively kills prostate cancer stem cells in vitro and in vivo. Based on this and similar results, EZH2-targeting drugs are being investigated in clinical trials. (Crea et al. Mol Cancer 2011; Crea et al, Crit Rev Hemat Oncol. 2012 )

2) We have identified and functionally characterized an  EZH2 genetic variant that accurately predicts prognosis in colorectal cancer patients (Crea et al. Ann Oncol 2012; Fornaro et al. Ann Oncol 2012; Fornaro et al BMC Cancer 2015). 

The epigenetic/non-coding interactome. Based on our results and on other studies, we have proposed a new paradigm of cancer progression. We show evidence supporting the idea that an epigenetic/non-coding interactome drives key features of cancer progression, including drug resistance and metastatic spreading (Crea et al. Trends Mol Med 2015).

Full list of Publications: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=nFGqiygAAAAJ&hl=en

Internal Collaborators: Prof. Nacho Romero (non-coding RNAs and metastatic tropism; lncRNAs in ageing); Dr. Martin Bootman (calcium-dependent prostate cancer progression). 

Teaching interests

OU modules

I exploit my research experience in cancer biology, epigenetics and non-coding RNAs to enrich the OU students' learning journey and to make sure that we teach the latest and most important developments in these fields. We are also working on new assets that develop the students' analytic skills and their understanding of human diseases. 

SK299 (Human Biology)

S294 (Cell Biology)

S211 (Paramedic Practice).

S317 (from Genes to Species)  

Post-graduate students' and PDRA supervision: Rebecca Mather (PRDA); Perla Pucci (PhD student, primary supervisor); Stephen Chandler (PhD student, co-supervisor since 10/16; previously on Work Experience Placement); Eduardo Frias (PhD student, co-supervisor);  Ester Pascual-Baixauli (Visiting Student); 

Impact and engagement

In collaboration with the BC Cancer Agency, we are currently developing new therapeutic and diagnostic tools for prostate cancer. These new technologies are based on the discovery and characterization of previously unknown long non-coding RNAs. 

Prof Yuzhuo Wang, BC Cancer Agency (Canada)

Prof Alfredo Falcone, University of Pisa (Italy)

Dr. Luca Quagliata, University of Basel (Switzerland)

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Long non-coding RNAs implicated in neuroendocrine prostate cancer initiation and progression: novel therapeutic targets for an incurable disease.

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Sep/201631/Aug/2019Cancer Research UK (CRUK)
Neuroendocrine prostate cancer (NEPC) is the most aggressive prostate cancer type. This disease is resistant to all available therapies, highly metastatic and rapidly fatal. We believe that the elucidation of NEPC-driving pathways could pave the way for the development of effective therapies. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a vast and mostly uncharted region of the human transcriptome. Despite their emerging role in cancer biology, no study has assessed the relevance of lncRNAs in NEPC development. Our collaborator Dr. Wang (BC Cancer Agency) has developed a unique collection of patient-derived prostate cancer models. This collection includes the first-in-field model of transdifferentiation from prostatic adenocarcinoma to NEPC. Aims. We propose to study the role of lncRNAs in NEPC development. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) whether transcriptomic profiles of lncRNAs in PCa pre-clinical models can elucidate the mechanisms of NEPC development. 2) if selected lncRNAs are promising therapeutic targets for NEPC. Accordingly, our specific aims will be: AIM 1: Identification, functional and clinical characterization of NEPC-driving lncRNAs. AIM 2: Development of innovative therapeutic strategies to prevent NEPC development. At the end of this project, we hope to shed new light on an incurable disease, and to identify viable therapeutic targets, which will be investigated in future translational and clinical studies.

Publications

miR-100-5p inhibition induces apoptosis in dormant prostate cancer cells and prevents the emergence of castration-resistant prostate cancer (2017-06)
Nabavi, Noushin; Saidy, Nur Ridzwan Nur; Venalainen, Erik; Haegert, Anne; Parolia, Abhijit; Xue, Hui; Wang, Yuwei; Wu, Rebecca; Dong, Xin; Collins, Colin; Crea, Francesco and Wang, Yuzhuo
Scientific reports, 7, Article 4079(1)
Topoisomerase 1 Promoter Variants and Benefit from Irinotecan in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer Patients (2016-11)
Paolicchi, E.; Vivaldi, C.; De Gregorio, V.; Crea, F.; Fornaro, L.; Masi, G.; Loupakis, F.; Graziano, F.; Ronzoni, M.; Ricci, V.; Falcone, A. and Danesi, R.
Oncology, 91(5) (pp. 283-288)
The role of epigenetics and long noncoding RNA MIAT in neuroendocrine prostate cancer (2016-06-01)
Crea, Francesco; Venalainen, Erik; Ci, Xinpei; Cheng, Hongwei; Pikor, Larissa; Parolia, Abhijit; Xue, Hui; Nur Saidy, Nur Ridzwan; Lin, Dong; Lam, Wan; Collins, Colin and Wang, Yuzhuo
Epigenomics, 8(5) (pp. 721-731)
Identification of the epigenetic reader CBX2 as a potential drug target in advanced prostate cancer (2016-02-12)
Clermont, Pier-Luc; Crea, Francesco; Chiang, Yan Ting; Lin, Dong; Zhang, Amy; Wang, James Z. L.; Parolia , Abhijit; Wu, Rebecca; Xue, Hui; Wang, Yuwei; Ding, Jiarui; Thu, Kelsie L.; Lam, Wan L.; Shah, Sohrab P.; Collins, Colin C.; Wang , Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Clinical Epigenetics, 8(16)
Molecular and pathological characterization of the EZH2 rs3757441 single nucleotide polymorphism in colorectal cancer (2015-11-09)
Fornaro, Lorenzo; Faviana, Pinuccia; De Gregorio, Veronica; Vivaldi, Caterina; Paolicchi, Elisa; Masi, Gianluca; Loupakis, Fotios; Sensi, Elisa; Lupi, Cristiana; Fontanini, Garbriella; Wang , Yuzhuo; Danesi, Romano; Falcone, Alfredo and Crea, Francesco
BMC Cancer, 15, Article 874
Polycomb genes are associated with response to imatinib in chronic myeloid leukemia. (2015-08)
Crea, Francesco; Di Paolo, Antonello; Liu, Hui Hsuan; Polillo, Marialuisa; Clermont, Pier-Luc; Guerrini, Francesca; Ciabatti, Elena; Ricci, Federica; Baratè, Claudia; Fontanelli, Giulia; Barsotti, Sara; Morganti, Riccardo; Danesi, Romano; Wang, Yuzhuo; Petrini, Mario; Galimberti, Sara and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Epigenomics, 7(5) (pp. 757-765)
Integrated analysis of the prostate cancer small-nucleolar transcriptome reveals SNORA55 as a driver of prostate cancer progression (2015-05)
Crea, Francesco; Quagliata, Luca; Michael , Agnieszka; Liu, Hui Hsuan; Frumento, Paolo; Azad, Arun A.; Xue, Hui; Pikor , Larissa; Wathaiki, Akira; Morant, Rudolf; Castori-Eppenberger, Serenella; Wang, Yuwei; Parolia , Abhijit; Lennox, Kim A.; Lam, Wan L.; Gleave, Martin; Chi, Kim N.; Pandha , Hardev; Wang, Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Molecular Oncology, 10(5) (pp. 693-703)
Polycomb-mediated silencing in neuroendocrine prostate cancer (2015-04-03)
Clermont, Pier-Luc; Lin, Dong; Crea, Francesco; Wu, Rebecca; Xue, Hui; Wang, Yuwei; Thu, Kelsie L; Lam, Wan L; Collins, Colin C; Wang , Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D
Clinical Epigenetics, 7(40)
The epigenetic/noncoding origin of tumor dormancy (2015-04)
Crea, Francesco; Nur Saidy, Nur Ridzwan; Collins, Colin C. and Wang, Yuzhuo
Trends in molecular medicine, 21(4) (pp. 206-11)
Identification of DEK as a potential therapeutic target for neuroendocrine prostate cancer (2015-01-30)
Lin, Dong; Dong, Xin; Wang, Kendric; Wyatt, Alexander W.; Crea, Francesco; Xue, Hui; Wang, Yuwei; Wu, Rebecca; Bell, Robert H.; Haegert, Anne; Brahmbhatt, Sonal; Hurtado-Coll, Antonio; Gout, Peter W.; Fazli, Ladan; Gleave, Martin E.; Collins, Colin C. and Wang, Yuzhuo
Oncotarget, 6(3) (pp. 1806-1820)
Genotranscriptomic meta-analysis of the Polycomb gene CBX2 in human cancers: initial evidence of an oncogenic role (2014-10-14)
Clermont, P-L; Sun, L; Crea, F; Thu, K L; Zhang, A; Parolia, A; Lam, W L and Helgason, C D
British Journal of Cancer, 111(8) (pp. 1663-1672)
Histone modifications, stem cells and prostate cancer (2014-04-01)
Crea, Francesco; Clermont, Pier-Luc; Mai, Antonello and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Current Pharmaceutical Design, 20(11) (pp. 1687-1697)
The non-coding transcriptome as a dynamic regulator of cancer metastasis. (2014-03-01)
Crea, Francesco; Clermont, Pier Luc; Parolia, Abhijit; Wang, Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Cancer Metastasis Reviews, 33(1) (pp. 1-16)
The non-coding transcriptome as a dynamic regulator of cancer metastasis (2014-03)
Crea, Francesco; Clermont, Pier Luc; Parolia, Abhijit; Wang, Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Cancer and Metastasis reviews, 33(1) (pp. 1-16)
Identification of a long non-coding RNA as a novel biomarker and potential therapeutic target for metastatic prostate cancer (2014-02-06)
Crea, Francesco; Watahiki, Akira; Quagliata, Luca; Xue, Hui; Pikor, Larissa; Parolia, Abhijit; Wang, Yuwei; Lin, Dong; Lam, Wan L.; Farrar, William L.; Isogai, Takao; Morant, Rudolf; Castori-Eppenberger, Serenella; Chi, Kim N.; Wang, Yuzhuo and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Oncotarget, 5(3) (pp. 764-774)
Genome-epigenome interactions: the Polycomb paradox (2014-02)
Crea, Francesco and Fornaro, Lorenzo
Epigenomics, 6(1) (pp. 5-7)
Genome-epigenome interactions: the Polycomb paradox. (2014-02)
Crea, Francesco and Fornaro, Lorenzo
Epigenomics, 6(1) (pp. 5-7)
Mutational analysis of Polycomb genes in solid tumours identifies PHC3 amplification as a possible cancer-driving genetic alteration. (2013-09-17)
Crea, F.; Sun, L.; Pikor, L.; Frumento, P.; Lam, W. L. and Helgason, C. D.
British Journal of Cancer, 109(6) (pp. 1699-1702)
Histone lysine demethylases in breast cancer. (2013-05)
Paolicchi, Elisa; Crea, Francesco; Farrar, William L.; Green, Jeffrey E. and Danesi, Romano
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 86(2) (pp. 97-103)
Plasma miRNAs as biomarkers to identify patients with castration-resistant metastatic prostate cancer. (2013-04-10)
Watahiki, Akira; Macfarlane, Robyn J.; Gleave, Martin E.; Crea, Francesco; Wang, Yuzhuo; Helgason, Cheryl D. and Chi, Kim N.
International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 14(4) (pp. 7757-7770)
Embryonic stem cell pathways and chemotherapy response: an unexplored route. (2013-02-01)
Duhagon, M. A.; Crea, F.; Danesi, R. and Farrar, W. L.
Annals of Oncology, 24(2) (pp. 558-559)
EZH2 inhibition: targeting the crossroad of tumor invasion and angiogenesis (2012-12)
Crea, Francesco; Fornaro, Lorenzo; Bocci, Guido; Sun, Lei; Farrar, William L.; Falcone, Alfredo and Danesi, Romano
Cancer and Metastasis reviews, 31(3) (pp. 753-761)
The emerging role of histone lysine demethylases in prostate cancer. (2012-08-06)
Crea, Francesco; Sun, Lei; Mai, Antonello; Chiang, Yan Ting; Farrar, William L.; Danesi, Romano and Helgason, Cheryl D.
Molecular Cancer, 11, Article 52
Polycomb genes and cancer: time for clinical application? (2012-08-01)
Crea, Francesco; Paolicchi, Elisa; Marquez, Victor E. and Danesi, Romano
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 83(2) (pp. 184-193)
Molecular mechanisms involved in the synergistic interaction of the EZH2 inhibitor 3-deazaneplanocin A with gemcitabine in pancreatic cancer cells. (2012-08-01)
Avan, Amir; Crea, Francesco; Paolicchi, Elisa; Funel, Niccola; Galvani, Elena; Marquez, Victor E; Honeywell, Richard J; Danesi, Romano; Peters, Godefridus J and Giovannetti, Elisa
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, 11(8) (pp. 1735-1746)
An EZH2 polymorphism is associated with clinical outcome in metastatic colorectal cancer patients (2012-05)
Crea, F.; Fornaro, L.; Paolicchi, E.; Masi, G.; Frumento, P.; Loupakis, F.; Salvatore, L.; Cremolini, C.; Schirripa, M.; Graziano, F.; Ronzoni, M.; Ricci, V.; Farrar, W. L.; Falcone, A. and Danesi, R.
Annals of oncology: official journal of the European Society for Medical Oncology / ESMO, 23(5) (pp. 1207-13)
Histone code, human growth and cancer. (2012-01-25)
Crea, Francesco
Oncotarget, 3(1) (pp. 1-2)
Epigenetics and chemoresistance in colorectal cancer: an opportunity for treatment tailoring and novel therapeutic strategies (2011-12-01)
Crea, Francesco; Nobili, Stefania; Paolicchi, Elisa; Perrone, Gabriele; Napoli, Cristina; Landini, Ida; Danesi, Romano and Mini, Enrico
Drug Resistance Updates, 14(6) (pp. 280-296)
Faithful markers of circulating cancer stem cells: is CD133 sufficient for validation in clinics? (2011-09-01)
Crea, Francesco; Fornaro, Lorenzo; Masi, Gianluca; Falcone, Alfredo; Danesi, Romano and Farrar, William
Journal of Clinical Oncology, 29(25) (pp. 3487-3488)
Optical biosensors to analyze novel biomarkers in oncology. (2011-06-01)
Donzella, Valentina and Crea, Francesco
Journal of Biophotonics, 4(6) (pp. 442-452)
Pharmacologic disruption of Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 inhibits tumorigenicity and tumor progression in prostate cancer (2011-04-18)
Crea, Francesco; Hurt, Elaine M.; Mathews, Lesley A.; Cabarcas, Stephanie M.; Sun, Lei; Marquez, Victor E.; Danesi, Romano and Farrar, William L.
Molecular Cancer, 10, Article 40
BMI1 silencing enhances docetaxel activity and impairs antioxidant response in prostate cancer. (2011-04-15)
Crea, Francesco; Duhagon Serrat, Maria A.; Hurt, Elaine M.; Thomas, Suneetha B.; Danesi, Romano and Farrar, William L.
International Journal of Cancer, 128(8) (pp. 1946-54)
BMI1 silencing enhances docetaxel activity and impairs antioxidant response in prostate cancer. (2011-04-15)
Crea, Francesco; Duhagon Serrat, Maria A.; Hurt, Elaine M.; Thomas, Suneetha B.; Danesi, Romano and Farrar, William L.
International Journal of Cancer, 128(8) (pp. 1946-1954)
EZH2 and cancer stem cells: fact or fiction? (2011-04)
Crea, Francesco
Epigenomics, 3(2) (pp. 127-128)
Clinical significance of Polycomb gene expression in brain tumors (2010-09-30)
Crea, Francesco; Hurt, Elaine M. and Farrar, William L.
Molecular Cancer, 9, Article 265
Cytochrome 450 1B1 (CYP1B1) polymorphisms associated with response to docetaxel in Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) patients. (2010-09-27)
Pastina, Ilaria; Giovannetti, Elisa; Chioni, Aldo; Sissung, Tristan M.; Crea, Francesco; Orlandini, Cinzia; Price, Douglas K.; Cianci, Claudia; Figg, William D.; Ricci, Sergio and Danesi, Romano
BMC Cancer, 10, Article 511
Cytochrome 450 1B1 (CYP1B1) polymorphisms associated with response to docetaxel in Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer (CRPC) patients. (2010-09-27)
Pastina, Ilaria; Giovannetti, Elisa; Chioni, Aldo; Sissung, Tristan M.; Crea, Francesco; Orlandini, Cinzia; Price, Douglas K.; Cianci, Claudia; Figg, William D.; Ricci, Sergio and Danesi, Romano
BMC Cancer, 10, Article 511
Synergistic cytotoxicity and molecular interaction on drug targets of sorafenib and gemcitabine in human pancreas cancer cells. (2010-08-08)
Ricciardi, S.; Mey, V.; Nannizzi, S.; Pasqualetti, G.; Crea, F.; Del Tacca, M. and Danesi, R.
Chemotherapy, 56(4) (pp. 303-312)
Synergistic cytotoxicity and molecular interaction on drug targets of sorafenib and gemcitabine in human pancreas cancer cells (2010-08)
Ricciardi, S.; Mey, V.; Nannizzi, S.; Pasqualetti, G.; Crea, F.; Del Tacca, M. and Danesi, R.
Chemotherapy, 56(4) (pp. 303-312)
Targeting prostate cancer stem cells. (2009-12-01)
Crea, Francesco; Mathews, Lesley A.; Farrar, William L. and Hurt, Elaine M.
Anti-cancer agents in medicinal chemistry, 9(10) (pp. 1105-1113)
Pharmacologic rationale for early G-CSF prophylaxis in cancer patients and role of pharmacogenetics in treatment optimization (2009-10-01)
Crea, Francesco; Giovannetti, Elisa; Zinzani, Pier Luigi and Danesi, Romano
Critical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology, 72(1) (pp. 21-44)
Cancer stem cell epigenetics and chemoresistance. (2009-10)
Crea, Francesco; Danesi, Romano and Farrar, William L.
Epigenomics, 1(1) (pp. 63-79)
Epigenetic gene regulation in stem cells and correlation to cancer. (2009-07-01)
Mathews, Lesley A.; Crea, Francesco and Farrar, W. L.
Differentiation, 78(1) (pp. 1-17)
Pharmacogenomics in non-small-cell lung cancer chemotherapy. (2009-05-20)
Danesi, Romano; Pasqualetti, Giuseppe; Giovannetti, Elisa; Crea, Francesco; Altavilla, Giuseppe; Del Tacca, Mario and Rosell, Rafael
Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 61(5) (pp. 408-417)
Mibefradil; a T-type calcium channel blocker as a potential anti-cancer agent. (2016-09)
Matheou, Chrysanthi; Chandler, Stephen; Crea, Francesco; Faria, Nuno; Powell, Jonathan; McDonald, Fraser; Rietdorf, Katja and Bootman, Martin D.
In : 14th International Meeting of the European Calcium Society (25-29 September 2016, Valladolid, Spain)

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