Orsola di Martino is a postdoctoral research associate at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Her research is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms involved in acute myeloid leukemia development and progression to develop less aggressive and more efficient therapy. She received her doctorate in molecular and industrial biotechnology from the University of Naples “Federico II”. During her PhD, she was focused on the study of tumor suppressor mechanisms in cancer pathogenesis and novel drug development. She contributed to unveil the gene regulation mechanism orchestrated by Ybx1, an oncoprotein that promotes replicative immortality, tumor cell invasion, and metastasis.
She joined the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis as postdoctoral research associate in 2016, where she started to investigate the role of endogenous RXRA ligands as tumor suppressors in AML leukemogenesis and seeking to identify clinical opportunities for therapeutic intervention through RARA/RXRA heterodimer-specific targeting. She contributed to the discoveries of natural retinoid receptor ligands in a specific subtype of acute myeloid leukemia and of a new therapeutical approach for the usage of combined retinoids in acute myeloid leukemia treatment. Her recent publications “Endogenous and combination retinoids are active in myelomonocytic leukemias” (2021) and “RXRA DT448/9PP generates a dominant active variant capable of inducing maturation in AML cells” (2021) summarized the most recent significant discoveries in the retinoid therapy field applied to leukemia treatment.
The long-term goal of Dr. di Martino’s research is to better investigate the function of retinoid receptors in hematopoiesis and myelomonocytic leukemias and seeking to identify clinical opportunities for therapeutic intervention through RARA/RXRA heterodimer-specific targeting. To achieve these goals, several well-characterized models of AML, such as the MLL-AF9 mouse model of acute myelomonocytic leukemias (AML) treated with different retinoids combinations in association with modern laboratory techniques such as RNA sequencing are utilized.