Francesco Leonetti

I am Francesco from Italy. I got my master’s degree in Medical biotechnology at University of Naples Federico II working on a project based on the functional selection of RNA molecules specific for triple-negative breast cancer cells. Then I moved to Montpellier where I worked on the characterization of transcription factors involved in metastatic breast cancer aggressiveness. I believe that both experiences have greatly enriched my knowledge by increasing my love for scientific research more and more. Always passionate about technology and football, I spent more than ten years as football referee coming to the national league. Thanks to the Enhpathy program and the project I am involved in, I expect to deepen some aspects of scientific research of which I am very curious, such as being able to integrate my bench work with bioinformatic support and animal models as well.

I am very sure that the great network that makes up the Enhpathy group of projects can help me in the immediate future and I am very happy to share my knowledge and my ideas with the other people who are part of it. Finally I think that there is nothing better than knowing that your work can help improve the health of many people.

My research project

Uncovering drug-adaptive epigenetic response in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) (WP3)

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is the most common acute leukaemia in adults, with a median age of 69 years. The vast majority of patients with AML achieve an initial complete remission after standard induction chemotherapy. However, responses are not durable, and majority of patients subsequently relapse and die of the disease. AML remains a clinical challenge and both, a better understanding of the resistance mechanism and new therapies are urgently needed.

Primary drug resistance is certainly linked to the genetic lesions driving AML but also to alterations in the epigenetic regulation of proximal promoters and distal enhancers. The primary goal of this project is to study regulatory elements that are direct targets of anticancer drugs and dissect the epigenetic mechanisms associated with drug resistance. For this, the following objectives are proposed:

  • Map enhancer or promoter regions that are disturbed in AML and normal hematopoietic cells during anticancer drug exposure (namely, Daunorubicin, DIMATE and Ara-C) and identify their putative target genes.
  • Characterise the role that the identified regulatory regions have in drug resistance.
  • Assess the ability of the most prominent factors to sensitize or re-sensitize AML cells to cell dead.

This project will pave the way to strategies with improved therapeutic efficacies by targeting of enhancers or their targets with inhibitors that can attenuate the adaptive transcription to genes linked to drug resistance in AML. This project is also part of the EU-funded ITN programme ENHPATHY (


My publications