This laboratory investigates the biochemical and molecular mechanisms underlying central and peripheral amyloidosis, to identify novel targets and develop effective pharmacological therapies.
Another main focus of our activities is setting up new methods for early diagnosis.
To this purpose, different approaches based on sophisticated chemical-physical methods, “in silico” and “in vitro” analysis are undertaken. Our research also concerns the development of nanovectors to improve current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Synthesis of peptides with therapeutic activity
Peptides offer many advantages as therapeutic compounds compared to small organic molecule drugs. As peptides are the smallest functional part of a protein, they are characterised by a high efficacy, selectivity and specificity. Furthermore, they do not accumulate in tissues due to their short half-life, and their degradation products are amino acids, that have minimal or no adverse effects. Our research topic is the development of new peptide-based pharmacological approaches against neurodegenerative diseases.
Conformational analysis of β-amyloidogenic proteins
Due to the ageing of the population, the incidence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and dementia is increasing. Nowadays, these conditions have a dismal outcome owing to the lack of effective treatments. The causes of their onset are still unknown, thus hampering the development of effective therapies. The focus of our research is to unveil the molecular causes driving the occurrence of these diseases to suggest new therapeutic targets. To this purpose, we use techniques and tools of molecular and cellular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and neuroscience.
Characterization of the pharmacological activity of neuroprotective peptides
Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by the accumulation and deposition of plaques of β-amyloid in the brain. We have previously developed Abeta1-6A2V-TAT(D), a peptide able to inhibit the generation of toxic oligomers of β-amyloid. Considering the promising data about the neuroprotective effect of this peptide, our current research activities aim to characterise further and optimize its pharmacological properties.
Study of the interaction between β-amyloid and Tau protein and its physiopathological implications
Neurofibrillary tangles (aggregates of Tau protein) and amyloid plaques (clumps of amyloid β) are the hallmark brain lesions of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Our research activity aims to study the conformational heterogeneity of Tau protein, the stability of the different molecular assemblies, their influence on fibrillogenesis and consequences in Alzheimer's disease.
Development of new therapies against Huntington disease
Huntington disease is an adult-onset, inherited neurodegenerative disorder. Despite the genetic causes and mechanisms of progression are clear, this disease is still incurable. Our research study aims to develop innovative therapeutic strategies focusing on the investigation of cholesterol synthesis and metabolism in neurons. Starting from preclinical data, we intend to translate our research into clinical experimentation.
Study of the biodistribution of nanoparticles in relation to their physicochemical properties
Our investigation deals with the development of a number of nanoparticles differently functionalized both for therapeutic and diagnostic (theranostic) purposes. Different in vivo models of oncological and neurodegenerative diseases are established for our studies. We examine and optimise the cellular biodistribution (internalisation, localisation) and the accumulation in organs (tropism) of the developed nanoparticles.
International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.