The area scientific contents concern the definition of innovative methodologies for the investigation and the potential treatment of some classes of pathologies with high impact on public health and often linked to aging. In particular, our attention will be concentrated on pathologies such as cancer, chronic and acute inflammation, neurodegenerative diseases and regenerative medicine. In this context, nanotechnologies together with supramolecular (bio)chemistry, synthetic chemistry, and bioinformatics offer new potentialities i) to study biological mechanisms involved in disease etiology and pathogenesis; ii) to improve the possibility of early diagnosis; iii) to develop new therapeutic approaches based on specific cellular and subcellular drug delivery to interfere with the functionality of disease associated target genes; iiii) to develop new nanostructured biomaterials.
The aim of this thematic area of research is to reach the knowledge and consequently to develop skills and methods necessary for tailoring industrial processes based on natural and recombinant cell factories. Said activities imply the genetic manipulation of industrial strains and cell lines, the design and the construction of synthetic organisms or parts, the molecular design and the reconstruction of metabolic network. The systems and the parts so created are tested for bioconversion performances, validation of products and viability of the processes and are intended to support a sustainable and environmental friendly development of pharma- chemical and food industry a well as of biofuels and biomaterials production.
In a systems biology approach, biological processes are taken to be the results of complex, coordinated, dynamic, non-linear interactions of a large number of components, which are shaped by time and space constrains. These dynamic interactions generate, as emergent property of the system, the corresponding function, that therefore is not found in individual components, but only in their networking and must be studied through the integration of biomolecular analysis (including omics) and mathematical modeling. The area accommodates different types of skills (biochemical, molecular biological, genetic, chemical, computational, etc.) and addresses relevant cellular functions (growth and cell cycle, differentiation, cell death, signal transduction) in model organisms of different evolutionary complexity.
This research area includes 10 research groups having a common interest in the study of molecular and genetic mechanisms of normal and pathological cellular functions. These basic science studies, that are in several cases carried out in collaboration with researchers active in experimental medicine, represent a starting point towards the exploration of mechanisms underlying important human pathologies, such as cancer, hereditary diseases, neurodegeneration and senescence, and bacterial infection. These groups are highly competent in several research areas, and their methods and approaches are widely shared, favoring important cultural and experimental interactions (cellular and animal models, genomics, proteomics, stem cells, genetics of eukaryotic and prokaryotic microorganisms).
The research topics in the scientific area are committed to the study of the processes affecting and threatening the biodiversity in natural and agricultural ecosystems. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life and health of living beings. The most recent genomic techniques and tools for the molecular identification are integrated with traditional approaches in the study of biodiversity, marine sciences and food safety. The researches move from a modern view of biodiversity, that is a common universal good but also a source of useful resources to be managed to preserve natural ecosystems and human activities. The XXI century biodiversity implements research, management and applied science to face the current huge global challenges.
The Area assembles the know-how and technological platforms for the study of cellular mechanisms of disease, identification/validation of therapeutic targets and their exploitation in the design and synthesis of new candidate molecules for diagnostic and therapeutic development. The approach is based on the confluence of expertise in organic and pharmaceutical chemistry, cell physiology and pharmacology. Synergy between such components covers the best part of preclinical drug development.