Toxicology and Cancerogenesis

This course is part of the programme
Bachelor's programme in Environment (first cycle)

Objectives and competences

In the first part of the course, students will learn basics of toxicology, genotoxicity mechanisms and DNA repair mechanisms. This part also covers the action of mutagenic substances and carcinogens with long-term irreparable consequences.

In the second part, the course focus more on cell biology of cell cycle, cancerogenesis process and tumorigenesis. Students will learn molecular bases of cancer and techniques for gentoxic and tumorigenesis assessment.


Prerequisite knowledge of biology , organic chemistry and biochemistry. Students acquire this knowledge in their 1st and 2nd year of studies at the study programme Environment.

The course shares an interdisciplinary connection with the courses Environmental monitoring, Ecotoxicology and, to an extent, Environmental epidemiology.


  1. Basics of toxicology and genetic toxicology

• Introduction to toxicology: definition of toxicology, basic concepts
• Toxicokinetics: exposure, absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion
• Toxicodynamics: basic ways of acting of toxins, biochemical and physiological consequences leading to harmful effects
• Genotoxicity and Genetic damage: primary DNA damage, mutagenesis, clastogenesis and genetic, chromosomal, genomic damage
• Chemical and physical structure of nucleic acids: description of structure and DNA replication, transcription and translation of DNA information
• Mechanisms of DNA damage repair
• Mechanisms of mutagenesis: direct/ indirect chemical and physical mutagens
• Genotoxicity testing, classification of mutagens
• Cancerogenesis testing and epidemiological data: long-term tests on animals, classification of cancerogenes
• Use of epidemiological data: interpreting data, risk assessment and limiting the risks, monitoring of exposure
• Legislation

  1. Cancerogenesis and development of tumors

• Introduction to cell biology, and cell cycle
• Causes of cancer: mutagens iin the environment, radiation, viruses
• Cancer initiation
• Tumor cell (promotion): differences between a tumor cell and a normal cell, factors influencing the promotion of tumors
• Regulation of the cell cycle: apoptosis
• Cell de-differentiation: biochemical changes linked to the process of differentiation
• Metastastasis: multi-level progression, biochemical mechanisms accompanying the invasion process

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

Practical skills in basic laboratory processes for cell biology analysis and genotixicity testing.
Critical reviewing of literature.


• David O. Morgan, The Cell Cycle: Principles of Control. Oxford University Press 2006 Catalogue
• R. Weinberg Biology of Cancer. Garland Pub Ed. 2013 Catalogue E-version
• A Textbook of Modern Toxicology, edited by Ernest Hodgson, Wiley 2010 Catalogue E-version
• Selected literature from the field.


Seminar paper (25 %), written examination (75 %)

Lecturer's references

Dr. Matteo De March is habilitated as Assistant professor in the field of biochemistry and molecular biology at University of Nova Gorica.

ŠTRANCAR, Urša, D'ERCOLE, Claudia, CIKATRICISOVÁ, Lucia, NAKIĆ, Mirna, DE MARCH, Matteo, DE MARCO, Ario. A practical guide for the quality evaluation of fluobodies/chromobodies. Biomolecules. 2024, vol. 14, issue 5, [article no.] 587, str. 1-10, ilustr. ISSN 2218-273X., Repozitorij Univerze v Novi Gorici - RUNG, DOI: 10.3390/biom14050587. [COBISS.SI-ID 195579651]

DE MARCH, Matteo, HICKEY, Neal, GEREMIA, Silvano. Analysis of the crystal structure of a parallel three-stranded coiled coil. Proteins. [Print ed.]. 2023, vol. 91, issue 9, str. 1254-1260. ISSN 0887-3585. Repozitorij Univerze v Novi Gorici - RUNG, DOI: 10.1002/prot.26557. [COBISS.SI-ID 159635971]

SPINELLO, Angelo, LAPENTA, Fabio, DE MARCH, Matteo. The avidin-theophylline complex : a structural and computational study. Proteins. [Print ed.]. 2023, vol. 91, issue 10, str. 1437-1443. ISSN 0887-3585. Repozitorij Univerze v Novi Gorici - RUNG, DOI: 10.1002/prot.26538. [COBISS.SI-ID 159601667]

D'ERCOLE, Claudia, DE MARCH, Matteo, VEGGIANI, Gianluca, OLOKETUYI, Sandra, SVIGELJ, Rossella, DE MARCO, Ario. Biological applications of synthetic binders isolated from a conceptually new adhiron library. Biomolecules. 2023, vol. 13, issue 10, [article no.] 1533, str. 1-16, ilustr. ISSN 2218-273X., Repozitorij Univerze v Novi Gorici - RUNG, DOI: 10.3390/biom13101533. [COBISS.SI-ID 168816899]

NEUMAIR, Julia, D'ERCOLE, Claudia, DE MARCH, Matteo, ELSNER, Martin, SEIDEL, Michael, DE MARCO, Ario. Macroporous epoxy-based monoliths functionalized with anti-CD63 nanobodies for effective isolation of extracellular vesicles in urine. International journal of molecular sciences. 2023, vol. 24, iss. 7, [article no.] 6131, str. 1-13, ilustr. ISSN 1661-6596. Repozitorij Univerze v Novi Gorici - RUNG, DOI: 10.3390/ijms24076131. [COBISS.SI-ID 146615299]