The Nanobiology laboratory studies the relationship between nanometric-sized molecules and simple (biological fluids and cells) OR complex biological matrices (tissues and multicellular organisms). The interest to nanobiology stems from both the extremely innovative nature of the subject and the growing impact that nanoparticles have both in the toxicological (e.g.nanoplastics and nanopowders) and in the biomedical field, we should remind that the components carrying the mRNA of “Moderna” and “Pfizer” anti-COVID 19 vaccines are biocompatible and biodegradable nanocarriers.
The experience accumulated in the last 15 years allows to the Nanobiology group to address different issues such as problems related to nanotoxicology, studies of nanopharmacology, nanomedicine and the development of nanometric markers for non-invasive diagnostics.
The laboratory also includes a clinical biochemistry unit specialized in biochemical studies and ongoing studies in the field of nanomedicine.
The laboratory is strongly committed to the evaluation of the behavior of several nanomaterials (metals, metal-oxides, plastics) interacting with the health of single cells or with multicellular organisms in particular physiological or pathological mouse models). In this context, the laboratory is, together with the laboratory of Human Pathology in Model Organisms, a European project lasting 4 years aimed at establishing the guidelines for quantifying the risk on human and environmental health of nanomaterials produced on a large scale. Furthermore, another European project focused on the risk assessment of possible nanocarriers that can be used as cellular transfection agents for biomedical and pharmacological applications is being concluded.
A relevant activity is focused on the evaluation and validation of mechanisms favoring the delivery of drugs and the specific release to pathological cells and tissues through the use of nanocarriers carrying drugs or other therapeutically active molecules. The group, involved in two European projects and two national projects in this specific field, is mainly involved in evaluating possible differences in the passage of biological barriers, in the penetration inside target calluses, in the reduction of side effects by comparing the behavior of administered drugs in traditional formulations or conveyed after bonding to suitably synthesized nanocarriers to increase the benefit-harm ratio.
In the last two years, the laboratory has developed murine models of liver or lung inflammation and fibrosis. The strategy of focusing on these organs stems from a series of previous studies which highlighted the marked tropism of many nano-drugs towards these two organs and the ability to interact with tissue immune infiltrate and modify its behavior. Three ongoing projects are aimed at evaluating the possible additive effect of the use of nano-drugs for the delivery of anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic molecules for lung and liver diseases. Furthermore, one study on the effect of liposomes on the delivery of cholesterol in a mouse model of Huntington disorder is being concluded. The achieved results are very encouraging and seem to suggest that liposomal nanoformulation is able to significantly increase brain cholesterol levels and reduce neurological progression in treated experimental subjects.
About 20 years ago, the research activity on nanomaterials in our Department began with the use of superparamagnetic and fluorescent contrast agents. In fact, the group has a consolidated experience in tracing labeled stem cells after transplantation in mouse models of acute or chronic neurodegenerative pathologies. Thanks to the availability, in our animal facility, of using non-invasive imaging tools currently used in clinical practice, over time we have tested the diagnostic efficacy of nanocarriers containing both contracting agents and molecules specifically expressed in pathological cells or tissues. This research is of primary interest both to increase the efficacy and sensitivity of the probe for early diagnosis and, in the near future, to be able to combine the diagnostic effect with the therapeutic effect, through the further loading of drugs into the nanocarrier of interest.
International Consensus on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.