Below you will find the main lines of research for each operative unit.


  1. Characterization of the intracellular mechanisms for the control of the activity of the calcium-dependent proteolytical system.
  2. Investigation of the extracellular functions of the HMGB1 protein on primary human cells.
  3. Altered calpain/calpastatin system in patients affected by cystic fibrosis.
  4. Regulation of the NMDA receptor mediated by HMGB1 and calpain activity

Clinical Immunology

  1. Mechanisms and biological factors able to modulate the function of the immune system, with specific attention to regulatory lymphocytes;
  2. The characterization of antigen-specific anti-tumor immune responses;
  3. The study of clinical and immunological aspects of systemic autoimmune diseases;
  4. The setting of original gene vaccination protocols against tumors and autoimmune disorders;
  5. The analysis of genetic and immunologic pathogenic mechanisms of autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cancers.


  1. IGF system: studies on the role of IGF system (IGF / IGFBP / IGFBP proteases and IGF receptors) in the proliferation and differentiation of primary cultures and cell lines from different tumors (lung and prostate cancer, osteoblasts)
  2. Somatostatin system: evaluation of SSR (SSTR1-5) and dopamine (D2R) profile in neoplastic tissues and in cell cultures obtained from endocrine and non-endocrine tumors; role of SSAs and SSTR-DR chimeric compounds on cell proliferation of tumor cell lines and primary cultures obtained from different tumors; evaluation of the interactions between IGF and somatostatin/SSRs system.
  3. Cancer stem cells (CSC): isolation and characterization of cancer stem cells obtained from cerebral tumors such as glioblastomas and meningiomas; role of CSC as pharmacological target in these tumors.
  4. Biology and pharmacology of prion disease: synthesis and purification of prion protein sequences; analysis of localization and toxicity of prion proteins. 


  1. Study of the “Innate Lymphoid Cells” (ILC)
  2. Study of the molecular mechanisms involved in the interactions between tumor cells and the immune system during neoplastic progression
  3. Assessment of the effects of innovative anti-tumor therapies on the immune response


  • AU group: Immunology of MS with main focus on the function of regulatory innate cells (CD56bright NK cells). Involvement of the microbiome in the pathogenesis of MS. In vitro culture of human and mouse mesenchymal stem cells and characterization of their immunological properties; study of interactions and their mechanisms with several populations of the immune system (T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes and dendritic cells). Mesenchymal stem cells and the interaction within the environment of hematopoietic niche. Characterization of immunosuppressive and neuroprotective potential of mesenchymal stem cells and their in vivo utilization for the treatment of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), the experimental model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Characterization of mesenchymal stem cells from MS patients : fenotipic and functional studies for their clinical application. Study on the immunological effects of intravenous treatment with autologous mesenchymal stem cells on patients with MS enrolled in the clinical trial “Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Multiple Sclerosis” (“MESEMS”).
  • AS group: Main research lines are:
    1. Biology and pathology of peripheral nervous system
    2. Dissection of molecular mechanisms underlying inherited peripheral neuropathies and identification of therapethic strategies
    3. Biomarkers identification
    4. Development of computational systems for quantitative neuropathology

Molecular Genetics

  1. Molecular Genetic studies of rare genetic disorders
  2. High throughput screening of chemical compounds

Molecular Immunology

  1. Innate immune responses and editing of adaptive responses by NK cells during HIV infection in different subsets of patients (exposed-uninfected, long-term non-progressing, and immunologically-discordant treated patients) with dissection of the interaction of maturing NK cells with invading host pathogens (including HIV-1, HCV, HSV, HPV, Mth, BCG) and immune escape of Herpesviridae (HSV,VZV, CMA) to innate checkpoints and exit from latency;
  2. The phenothypical and functional characterization of peripheral NK cells of chronic viraemic HCV infected patients before and during immunotherapy;
  3. Chracterization of innate immune factors driving Mth reactivation in vivo and immune correlates of successful control of mycobacterial infections;
  4. Functional and phenotypical analysis of microparticles relesead by NK cells in plasma and in in vitro culture.

Pharmacology and Toxicology

  1. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release under physiological and pathological conditions, and regulation through presynaptic receptors..
  2. Metabotropic glutamate receptors for neurochemistry and functions of motoneuron, astrocytes and microglia in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
  3. Modulation of β-amyloid production and its physiological and pathological effects on neurotransmission in the central nervous system.
  4. Purinergic P2X7 receptors and glutamate release in physiological and pathological conditions in CNS.

Structural and Cellular Biochemistry

  1. Study of abscisic acid functional effects and related biomolecular mechanism in different human and animal cellsi. Specifically, we will investigate ABA role in the physiology of glucose homesostasis regulation and in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes, by evaluating on in vitro and in vivo models, the possible cross-talk between ABA and the incretin GLP-1 and the effect of oral ABA administration in glycemia regulation, in diabetes animal models.
  2. Identification of antagonist of Sirtuin 6, an enzyme with a NAD+-dependent deacetylase activity and their potential use in the treatment of cancer.
  3. Analysis and characterization of GDP-L-fucose metabolism and uptake into the Golgi system
  4. Synthesis and structural characterization, by mean of gas (GC-MS) and liquid chromatography (HPLC-ESI-MS) coupled to mass spectrometry, of farmacological compounds.