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Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD

Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD

Muller Fabbri, MD, PhD
  • Full Member
    Cancer Biology Program
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center
  • Academic Appointments

  • Associate Researcher (Associate Professor)
    Cancer Biology Program
    University of Hawaii Cancer Center


  • MD, University of Pisa, Italy
  • Medicine Degree, Sant’Anna School for Advanced Studies, Pisa, Italy
  • PhD (Molecular and Cellular Biotechnologies), Second University of Naples, Naples, Italy
  • Medical Board Certification in Medical Oncology, University of Ferrara, Italy

Research Focus

My research focuses on the role of microRNAs (and other non-coding RNAs) in the biology of cancer. Non-coding RNAs have been shown to be involved in all aspects of cancer biology. My lab focuses on how microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs mediate inter-cellular communication within the Tumor Microenvironment (TME). Specifically, we have pioneered the idea that microRNAs can function as ligands of receptors and have shown that cancer cells can release microRNAs within extracellular vesicles able to deliver them to surrounding Tumor-Associated Macrophages (TAMs). Cancer-derived vesicular microRNAs can bind to Toll-like receptor 8 (TLR8) in TAMs triggering downstream NF-ÎşB signaling and the secretion of cytokines and other vesicular microRNAs that promote cancer cell growth, dissemination and the development of drug resistance. Currently, my laboratory is interested in developing effective methods to interrupt this aberrant cross-talk between cancer cells and surrounding cells of the TME, in order to prevent/overcome drug resistance. Another interest of my lab is to investigate the role of exosomes (and other extracellular vesicles) in modulating the immune response against cancer cells, and to assess their implications as biomarkers for liquid biopsies conducive to early cancer detection, prognosis and prediction of response therapy. Finally, we are interested in defining the mechanism of action of transcribed ultraconserved regions and other long non-coding RNAs and assess their function and role in cancer biology and resistance to therapy, with the ultimate goal to identify new molecular targets for cancer treatment.

Selected Publications

  • Vannini I, Wise PM, Challagundla KB, Plousiou M, Raffini M, Bandini E, Fanini F, Paliaga G, Crawford M, Ferracin M, Ivan C, Fabris L, Davuluri RV, Guo Z, Cortez MA, Zhang X, Chen L, Zhang S, Fernandez-Cymering C, Han L, Carloni S, Salvi S, Ling H, Murtadha M, Neviani P, Gitlitz BJ, Laird-Offringa IA, Nana-Sinkam P, Negrini M, Liang H, Amadori D, Cimmino A, Calin GA, Fabbri M. (2017). Transcribed ultraconserved region 339 promotes carcinogenesis by modulating tumor suppressor micrRNAs. Nat Commun; Nov 27;8(1):1801. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-01562-9.
  • Van Roosbroeck K, Fanini F, Setoyama T, Ivan C, Rodriguez-Aguayo C, Fuentes-Mattei E, Xiao L, Vannini I, Redis RS, D'Abundo L, Zhang X, Nicoloso MS, Rossi S, Gonzalez-Villasana V, Rupaimoole R, Ferracin M, Morabito F, Neri A, Ruvolo PP, Ruvolo VR, Pecot CV, Amadori D, Abruzzo L, Calin S, Wang X, You MJ, Ferrajoli A, Orlowski R, Plunkett W, Lichtenberg TM, Davuluri RV, Berindan-Neagoe I, Negrini M, Wistuba II, Kantarjian HM, Sood AK, Lopez-Berestein G, Keating MJ, Fabbri M, Calin GA. (2017). Combining Anti-Mir-155 with Chemotherapy for the Treatment of Lung Cancers. Clin Cancer Res; Jun 1;23(11):2891-2904. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-16-1025. Epub 2016 Nov 30.
  • Ling H, Fabbri M, Calin GA. (2013). MicroRNAs and other non-coding RNAs as targets for anticancer drug development. Nat Rev Drug Discov; Nov;12(11):847-65. doi: 10.1038/nrd4140. Review.
  • Fabbri M, Paone A, Calore F, Galli R, Gaudio E, Santhanam R, Lovat F, Fadda P, Mao C, Nuovo GJ, Zanesi N, Crawford M, Ozer GH, Wernicke D, Alder H, Caligiuri MA, Nana-Sinkam P, Perrotti D, Croce CM. (2012). MicroRNAs bind to Toll-like receptors to induce prometastatic inflammatory response. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A; Jul 31;109(31):E2110-6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209414109. Epub 2012 Jul 2.

Publication list via PubMed

Active Grants

  • M. Fabbri, Principal Investigator
    NCI 1R01CA219024
    “Clinical significance and mechanism of action of exosomal microRNAs in Neuroblastoma chemoresistance”
  • M. Fabbri, Principal Investigator
    The Pablove Foundation Accelerator Award
    “Role of Natural Killer cell-derived exosomal microRNAs in the killing of Neuroblastoma”
  • M. Fabbri, Principal Investigator
    NCI 1R01CA215753
    “Role of microRNAs released by Tumor Associated Macrophages within Exosomes in the chemoresistance of Neuroblastoma”
  • M. Fabbri, Co-Investigator (PIs: Seeger, Cairo, Lee)
    DoD CA160461P2
    “Overcoming Immune Escape Mechanisms in Immunotherapy of Neuroblastoma”