Project Objectives

Recently, the therapeutic scenario of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is changed with the introduction into clinical practice of "immune check-points" (PD-1 / PDL-1) inhibitors, able to reactivate the immune response against the tumor. These immunotherapeutic agents have greatly improved patients outcome in terms of overall survival. However, a large amount of patients do not respond to immunotherapy and / or develop immune-related toxicity. To date, the only biomarker used to predict treatment efficacy is the expression of PDL-1 on the primary tumor, but it is not always related to an effective clinical response. Therefore, the identification of non-invasive biomarkers able to select the patient who will benefit from therapy with immunotherapeutic agents is crucial.

The research group of Electronics for Sensory Systems of the Campus Bio-Medico has recently patented the "electronic nose", a diagnostic tool capable of performing precision, non-invasive and low-cost analyses. This technology is able to recognize, by analyzing the patient's breathing alone, an electronic graph from which his state of health can be deduced. This tool would allow us to identify profiles of volatile compounds from patients' breath, potentially associated with the response to immunotherapies.

Recently, it has been observed that resistance to immunotherapeutic treatments can also be attributed to an abnormal composition of the patient's microbiota. Therefore, the variety and composition of the bacterial species of gut e salivary microbiota could predict the clinical benefit to treatment.

The project aims, therefore, to identify new biomarkers of response to immunotherapy using these non-invasive and repeatable approaches during treatment to allow constant monitoring of patients.

Start/End Date

January 2019 – ongoing

Principal Investigators

Prof. Giuseppe Tonini

Prof. Daniele Santini

Dr. Francesco Pantano

Research Team

Dr. Michele Iuliani

Dr. Giulia Ribelli

Dr. Sonia Simonetti

Dr. Marco Russano

Host Institution

Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome

Other Institutions involved


Source of funding