Our studies are mainly focused on the following projects:
Project 1: Characterization of Cancer Stem Cells
Our aim is to study the biochemical features of cancer stem cells (CSCs): why? Because these cells are highly aggressive and have been shown to be the cause of cancer insurgence and recurrence. Furthermore, it is known that CSCs possess a metabolic arrangement different to that of differentiated tumor cells. Indeed, we have recently demonstrated that progressively de-differentiated cancer cells derived from pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) cell lines show metabolic plasticity towards the acquisition of the quiescent state. So our approach is to gradually de-differentiate cancer cells in order to follow their metabolic changes and to identify new specific markers that will help to find new promising therapies.
Briefly, our major interests in the study of CSCs are:
- Metabolic characterization
- Analysis of expression levels and activity of metabolic enzymes
- Study of mitochondria and peroxisomes biogenesis and regulation
- Study of the antiproliferative effects of new liposomic drug formulations
- Study of the regulation of several signal transduction pathways in different tumor systems.
Project 2: Male infertility and fertility preservation
Starting in 2020, we also focused our attention on the study of male fertility preservation in strict collaboration with the Pediatric Surgery Unit of Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata (AOUI) Verona.
Particularly, we have optimized a protocol to culture in vitro primary testicular tissue, including Leydig, peritubular, and Sertoli cells, derived from pediatric patients affected by different pathologies and from adults with impaired fertility. On these cellular systems, we study:
- the pro-angiogenic pathways induced by human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in primary testicular and gubernaculum cells;
- the mitochondria arrangement and biogenesis;
- the connection between the predisposition to develop testicular cancer and the presence of specific gonadal pathologies in childhood.
Our aim is to preserve male fertility potential starting from the bench to the bed side, in a constant connection with the clinicians.
If you are interested in collaborating with us, check the Open positions: