The Nanobiointeractions&Nanodiagnostics lab is structured into two interdisciplinary platforms, dealing with the study of the interactions between biological systems and nanomaterials, and the development of innovative diagnostic nanosensors for the detection of biomolecules and other analytes.
The mission of the Nanobiointeractions platform is to provide a deeper understanding of the response of biological systems upon interaction with nanoscale materials. Focusing on the molecular and cellular mechanisms of the interactions at the nano-bio interface, by in vitro and in vivo studies, the main research aims are:
- Unravelling common mechanisms of nanomaterials toxicity, based on nanomaterials’ physico-chemical properties
- Developing standardized tools for the characterization and toxicological screening of nanomaterials
- Safe-by-design approaches for nanomaterials
- Analysis of nanomaterials’ internalization pathways and intracellular fate
- Assessing the inflammatory potential of nanomaterials
- Development of nanomaterials-based systems for nanomedicine, nanoimaging, and biomedical applications
The mission of the Nanodiagnostics platform is to develop integrated, smart, low-cost, and rapid assays/sensors for on field and point-of-care diagnostics, coupling the peculiar chemical/physical properties of nanoparticles to DNA nanotechnology. The focus is on instrument-free assays, involving isothermal/room-temperature signal amplification, and naked-eye colorimetric readout. Specific areas of applications span from clinical diagnostics (cancer, genetic, and infectious diseases) to environmental control (pathogens, pollutants and contaminants) and include, among others:
- Rapid colorimetric tests for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) fingerprinting
- Blood biopsies for the detection of rare mutations in circulating tumor DNA
- Low-cost tests for the quantification of oncogenic miRNAs
- On-field sensors for food safety and traceability
The clinical tests can be employed in large-scale screenings, promoting ultra-early diagnosis, and in pre-treatment testing, permitting personalized therapy based on each patient’s genetic profile.
Several collaborations are in place, both with clinical research centers in the field of cancer, neurosciences and autoimmune diseases, as well as with various multinational diagnostics companies, aimed at the clinical validation and commercialization of the proprietary technologies being developed.
The laboratories are fully equipped with complete state-of-the art instrumentation for:
- Synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles (chemical hoods, DLS, Zpot, NTA, TEM, SEM, ICP-AES, Confocal/STED/FLIM microscopy)
- Molecular biology (PCR, PAGE, Gel Doc, DIGE, MALDI-TOF)
- Cellular biology (cell culture facility, FACS, MAGPIX, plate readers)