Infection, innate immunity, and inflammation
The research includes the study of innate immune cell signaling, immunomodulatory mechanisms and functions, immunotoxicity, cytokines, innate immune cell biology through advanced imaging technologies, molecular biology, and omics approaches.
Moreover, we are focused on the role of the innate immune system in chronic inflammatory diseases, allergy and autoimmunity, neurodegenerative diseases, tumor immunology, comparative immunology, resistance to pathogens, and to other environmental risks (e.g., micro- and nano-particles/plastics).
Our goal is to provide novel insights into fundamental understanding of the innate immune system in health and disease through evolution (from invertebrates to humans) and applying this knowledge for the development of novel therapeutic approaches.
We aim at deciphering the mechanisms underlying the role of T and B lymphocytes in adaptive immune responses as well as to the interactions between the adaptive immune system and different tissues during disease pathogenesis to attempt novel therapeutic approaches. Intracellular signaling mechanisms regulating T cell development, differentiation, induction and maintenance of immunological memory are being studied using lineage-tracing and cell-based techniques and are expected to provide relevant information for the design of new and more effective vaccine strategies. Evolution of immunoglobulin genes and humoral immune responses in environmental stress conditions are being investigated using molecular and bioinformatics approaches. The behavior of T cells as regulators of adaptive immune responses and as effector cells is also being examined in models of bacterial/viral infection and in disease conditions such as autoimmunity, immunodeficiencies and cancer.
We are also currently investigating the behavior of T cells as regulators of adaptive immune responses and as effector cells in models of bacterial/viral infection and in disease conditions such as autoimmunity, immunodeficiencies and cancer.
Immunogenetics and immune-related diseases
Our main goal is to identify specific targets and pathways for informing the design of more specific treatments for autoimmune disorders. Through association studies (GWAS) on immunological traits quantified in the general population, we seek to identify genetic variants to evaluate their role in the predisposition to autoimmune diseases, characterize the transcriptomic profile and identify complex miRNA-transcription factor co-regulation networks in autoimmune diseases. The association of HLA polymorphism to Sars-CoV-2 infection, autoimmune diseases and cancer is also being investigated. Studies in this area cover the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate the immunological tolerance and the interactions between metabolism and the immune system, with aim to develop new therapeutic strategies exploiting modulation of the metabolic asset. Transcriptomic and proteomic profiles of exosomes and microvesicles are adopted to identify suitable biomarkers for monitoring pharmacogenomics/pharmacoepigenomics treatments in neurodegenerative diseases.
Our aims are the formulation of innovative vaccines (against infectious and not-infectious diseases) and the design of strategies for targeting specific cell subsets using antigen nanocarriers. We design vaccine with free and/or NP bound recombinant allergens to modulate allergen specific immune response, and propose Fcγ-chimeric receptor engineered T and NK cell for the treatment of hematologic and solid tumors. Moreover we study the effects of compounds and natural substances on cell mediated immunity, the role of HLA-DR in immune escape and metastatic progression and we propose gene correction and gene editing of primary immunodeficiencies (RAG defects).