Our studies are mainly focused on the following projects:
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.
Male infertility and fertility preservation
Starting in 2020, we also focused our attention on the study of male fertility preservation in young patients in strict collaboration with Prof. Nicola Zampieri of the Pediatric Surgery Unit of Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria Integrata (AOUI) of Verona. Particularly, we have optimized a protocol to culture in vitro primary testicular and gubernacular cells derived from pediatric patients affected by testicular pathologies and from adults with impaired fertility. On these cellular systems, we study:
- the in vitro effect and the involved pathways induced by human chorionic gonadotropin hormone in order to depict personalized therapy;
- the connection between mitochondria arrangement and steroidogenesis;
- the identification of specific markers predictive of the healthy state of the testis;
- the generation of newly functioning Leydig and Sertoli cells for regenerative medicine;
- the connection between the predisposition to develop testicular cancer and gonadal pathologies in childhood.
Our aim is to preserve male fertility potential starting from the bed to the bench and then back from the bench to the bed, in a constant connection with the clinicians.
If you are interested in collaborating with us, check the Open positions: