Human Health

People: Maria FuciarelliStefano RufiniAlessandro Travaglini, Bianca Gustavino,  Lina Ghibelli

  • Analysis of human genetic variation to understand health-related issues in order to clarify the interactions between human beings and environment. One part of this topic is focused on complex diseases to evaluate if genetic variation in detoxification enzymes may interact with environmental risk factor increasing the disease risk. Another branch analyzes the evolution of antioxidant genes among human populations. Finally, this topic deals the inter-ethnic differences in the structure of genes related to important health aspects, such as pharmacogenetics and rare disease (Maria Fuciarelli).
  • Study of the function of exosomes in intra- and inter-species communication. Exosomes are microvesicles (80-150 nm) bounded by a lipid bilayer that are released from the cells of organisms belonging to all the kingdoms, in response to different stimuli. These microvesciole are synthesized in the interior of multivesicular bodies and released into the extracellular medium, after their fusion with the plasma membrane. The exosomes are characterized by the presence in their inside of numerous proteins and RNA molecules of different type such as mRNA, siRNA and mainly miRNA. While the evidence of their existence has more than ten years, little is known about their real role in cellular communication. Our laboratory is currently involved on two lines of research:
    1) characterization of nuts exosomes and study of their interaction with cells of the human intestinal epithelia. Communication inter-kingdom via exosomes is a promising research field of interest not only theoretical but also for the possible consequence that can open.
    2)Study of exosomes released by human cells in culture challenged with Ionizing Radiation and their interactions with non-stressed cells (Stefano Rufini).
  • Aerobiological monitoring and forecasting models for  allergenic pollen spread. Study of pollen back trajectories in the lower layers. Relations between aerospora and flora in the urban area; monitoring of alien flora through monitoring aerobiological. Experience monitoring outdoor and indoor (Alessandro Travaglini).
  •  Mutagenic effects and risk evaluation for human exposure to physical (electromagnetic fields at extremely low frequencies: ELF-EMF; radiofrequencies: RF-EMF; radon) and chemical contamination (e.g, drinking water disinfection byproducts) in standard test systems (mammalian and human cells; plants) and bio-indicators. Induction mechanisms of detected genotoxic effects. ( Bianca Gustavino)
  • Re-establishing apoptosis competence in cancer cells/tissues via biomodulatory approaches: Apoptosis is generally induced in cancer cells by (DNA) damage inducers (traditional chemotherapy), causing problems of toxicity and cancer repopulation. On the contrary, epigenetic and transcriptional modulator can re-establish apoptosis competence by re-activating cell-integrity check points, eliminating cancer cells with minor side effects. We aim at investigating the molecular mechanisms at the basis of such phenomena. (Lina Ghibelli)
  • Nanotechnology Applications in Anticancer Research: nanotechnology is a promising new frontier in anticancer therapy, allowing ideally to target drugs to the tumor site by selective delivery, and exert unprecedented actions in the cancer microenvironment due to the activity of materials in the nanoscale. We aim at linking carrier nanoparticles to natural products of food origin to stabilize them so to increase their bioavailability and exploit their potential anticancer properties; and to exploit the intrinsic ability of redox-active cerium oxide nanoparticles to inhibit the repopulation of cancer tissues after chemotherapy. (Lina Ghibelli)
  • Model systems to investigate the mechanisms of the anticancer therapies. We are developing methods to obtain reliable responses anticancer therapies (see above) as a translational approach. Ongoing is the development of “on-chip” models (in collaboration with the Dep. Of Electronic Engineering, Tor Vergata). In preparation are the development of 3D cultures and of zebrafish as an in vivo model.(Lina Ghibelli)