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Alessandro Fatatis

Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD


Department: Pharmacology & Physiology


  • MD - University of Naples, Italy
  • PhD - University of Chieti, Italy

Awards & Honors

  • Director’s Award for Outstanding Member, Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center of Jefferson University (2016)
  • Mentoring Award, MS Career Oriented Program, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences and Professional Studies, Drexel University College of Medicine (2016)
  • Drexel University College of Medicine, Young Scientist Award (2006)
  • The University of Naples, Award for Distinguished Pharmacological Research (1999)
  • Italian Society for Pharmacology, Research Fellowship (1994)

Alessandro Fatatis, MD, PhD, is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology & Physiology at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Research Overview

Research Interests

Cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating metastatic potential of solid tumors, studies in vitro and in animal models of neoplastic disease


Metastatic dissemination and progression is by far the most common cause of patients' demise from prostate and breast tumors.

The focus of Dr. Fatatis's research is the identification of novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for the management and therapy of metastatic disease. His lab is particularly interested in the dissemination and growth of cancer cells in secondary organs such as skeleton, lungs and brain.

The laboratory pursues a translational approach by employing cellular and molecular biology techniques combined with pre-clinical models of cancer growth and dissemination. Particular emphasis is placed on mechanism of activation and downstream signaling of both tyrosine kinase and G protein-coupled receptors.

A first line of investigation concerns the functional interactions between the chemokine fractalkine and its receptor CX3CR1. Dr. Fatatis's lab was the first to report the expression of CX3CR1 by both prostate and breast cancer cells and its chemokine ligand by the bone stroma. In addition, his group showed that this chemokine-receptor pair is implicated in both adhesion of cancer cells to the endothelial wall of the bone marrow sinusoids and their extravasation in the surrounding tissue.

Through collaborative efforts the lab is currently screening novel small-molecule inhibitors of CX3CR1 with the ultimate intent of identifying compounds that effectively counteract the seeding of prostate and breast cancer cells at the skeletal level.

A second major project is focused on the identification of molecular factors supporting the survival and growth of disseminated cancer cells and their progression into metastatic lesions.

Dr. Fatatis's group reported that bone-metastatic prostate cancer cells express high levels of alpha receptor for platelet-derived growth factor (PDGFR) and that targeting PDGFR with a humanized monoclonal antibody reduces bone metastases by 70% in animal models.  Based on the strong evidence provided by their pre-clinical data, Eli Lilly is currently conducting phase II clinical trials with the antibody IMC-3G3 (Olaratumab) for advanced prostate adenocarcinoma.

Furthermore, the lab has also identified PDGFR-regulated genes that directly induce metastatic behavior in prostate cancer cells and represent potential therapeutic targets to counteract metastatic disease.

In the Media


"Novel Small-Molecule CX3CR1 Antagonist Impairs Metastatic Seeding and Colonization of Breast Cancer Cells"
Shen F, Zhang Y, Jernigan DL, Yan J2, Garcia FU2, Meucci O1, Salvino JM, and Fatatis A
Molecular Cancer Research (accepted for publication)

"A pre-clinical model of inflammatory breast cancer to study the involvement of CXCR4 and ACKR3 in the metastatic process"
Wurth R, Tarn K, Jernigan DL, Fernandez SV, Cristofanilli M, Fatatis A, and Meucci O
Translational Oncology 8, 358-367 (2015)

"Jak2-Stat5a/b Signaling Induces Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Stem Cell Properties in Prostate Cancer Cells"
Talati PG, Gu L, Ellsworth EM, Girondo M, Trerotola M, Hoang DT, Leiby B, Dagvadorj A, McCue PA, Lallas CD, Trabulsi EJ, Gomella L, Aplin A, Languino L, Fatatis A, Rui H and Nevalainen MT
American J. Pathology 185, 2505-2522 (2015)

"CCR5 receptor antagonists block metastasis to bone of v-Src oncogene-transformed metastatic prostate cancer cell lines"
Sicoli D, Jiao X, Ju X, Velasco-Velazquez M, Ertel A, Addya S, Li Z, Andò S, Fatatis A, Paudyal B, Cristofanilli M, Thakur ML, Lisanti MP and Pestell RG
Cancer Research 74(23):7103-14 (December 1, 2014)

"Metabolic stress control of cytoskeletal dynamics and metastasis"
Caino MC, Chae YC, Vaira V, Ferrero S, Nosotti M, Martin NM, Weeraratna A, O’Connell M, Jernigan DL, Fatatis A, Languino LR, Bosari S, and Altieri DC
Journal of Clinical Investigation 123, 2907-2920 (2013)

"Interleukin-1β promotes skeletal colonization and progression of metastatic prostate cancer cells with neuroendocrine feature"
Liu Q, Russell MR, Shahriari K, Jernigan D, Lioni MI, Garcia FU and Fatatis A
Cancer Research 73, 3297-3305 (2013)

"Convergence of oncogenic and hormone receptor pathways promotes pro-metastatic phenotypes"
Augello MA, Burd CJ, Birbe R, McNair C, Ertel A, Magee MS, Frigo DE, Wilder-Romans K, Shilkrut M, Han S, Jernigan DL, Dean JL, Fatatis A, McDonnell DP, Visakorpi T, Feng FY, and Knudsen KE
Journal of Clinical Investigation 123, 493-508 (2013)

"Trop-2 promotes cancer metastasis by modulating β1 integrin functions"
Trerotola M, Jernigan DL, Liu Q, Siddiqui J, Fatatis A and Lucia Languino LR
Cancer Research  73, 3155-3167 (2013)

"The chemokine receptor CX3CR1 is directly involved in the arrest of breast cancer cells to the skeleton"
Jamieson WL, Zhang Y, Fong AM, Meucci O, and Fatatis A
Breast Cancer Research 13, R91 (2011)

"Targeting the alpha receptor for Platelet-Derived Growth Factor as a primary or combination therapy in a preclinical model of prostate cancer skeletal metastasis"
Russell MR, Liu Q and Fatatis A
Clinical Cancer Research 16, 5002-5010 (2010)

"The alpha receptor for Platelet Derived Growth Factor confers bone-metastatic potential to prostate cancer cells by ligand- and dimerization-independent mechanisms"
Russell MR, Liu Q, Lei H, Kazlauskas A and Fatatis A
Cancer Research 70, 4195-4203 (2010)

"Osteoblasts modulate Ca2+ signaling in bone-metastatic prostate and breast cancer cells"
D'Ambrosio J, Fatatis A
Clin. Exp. Metastasis 26, 955-964 (2009)

"Antibody-mediated blockade of Platelet Derived Growth Factor Receptor inhibits early prostate skeletal metastases"
Russell MR, Jamieson WL, Dolloff NG, and Fatatis A
Oncogene 28: 412-421 (2009)

"The CX3CR1 receptor is expressed by the prostate gland as its chemokine ligand fractalkine is detected in bone marrow and cleaved by an androgen-dependent mechanism: potential role in skeletal metastasis from prostate adenocarcinoma"
Jamieson WL Shimizu S, D’Ambrosio JA, Meucci O and Fatatis A
Cancer Research 68, 1715-1722 (2008)  

"Human bone marrow activates the Akt pathway in metastatic prostate cells through transactivation of the alpha Platelet-derived Growth factor receptor"
Dolloff NG, Russell MR, Loizos N and Fatatis A
Cancer Research 67, 555-562. (2007)

“Bone-metastatic potential of human prostate cancer cells correlates with Akt/PKB activation by alpha Platelet Derived Growth Factor Receptor”
Dolloff NG Shulby SS, Nelson AV,  Stearns ME, Johannes GJ, Thomas JD, Meucci O and Fatatis A
Oncogene, 24: 6848-54 (2005)

“CX3CR1-fractalkine expression regulates cellular mechanisms involved in adhesion, migration and survival of human prostate cancer cells"
Shulby SA, Dolloff NG, Stearns ME, Meucci O, and Fatatis A
Cancer Research, 64:4693-4698 (2004)

Contact Information

Department of Pharmacology & Physiology
245 N. 15th Street
Mail Stop 488
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: 215.762.8534
Fax: 215.762.2299