Nanomaterials are atomic clusters, which range in size from 1 to 100 nanometers (10-9 m). If properly designed, such small particles can show specific response to environmental stimuli and interact with subcellular compartments of the human body. Therefore, their applications span from illness treatment to the synthesis of nanosensors able to provide signals from environmental pollutants, pathogens or specific diseases.
To scale up nanomaterial production and apply their potential, we need to fully understand their behaviour inside living organisms, their interaction with cells and their internalization pathways.
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 Nanobiointeractions platform is to study and provide careful understanding of nanomaterials’ interaction with cells, tissues and whole organisms, in view of biomedical applications. We characterize the materials physico-chemical properties at the nanoscale by cutting-edge techniques, to comprehend their potential contribution to toxicity and to improve standardized tools for precise toxicological screening of the diverse nanomaterials. This safe-by-design approach allows us to develop or modify nanomaterials, tailoring them for specific internalization pathways and/or localization in the different subcellular compartments, thus improving their activity and therapeutic efficacy. A prerequisite for successful nano-medical applications is their immune-compatibility. We investigate the immune system activation with special attention to the innate immune cells (i.e. monocytes/macrophages, neutrophils), inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production induced by the different nanomaterials. This information is the pillar for the creation of medical-grade nano-devices, purposely designed to avoid or emphasize immunity as nano-immune-modulators.
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. This research line is based on hybrid detection strategies, which exploit green and controlled synthesis of nanomaterials, surface (bio)chemistry, plasmon non-linear response, nanozymes, molecular biology and biotechnology. A synergistic effect of the integration between these interdisciplinary technologies is the possibility to exploit novel biophysical properties that biomolecules exhibit due to their interaction with nanomaterials, such as sharp melting transitions of DNA linked to metal nanoparticles, the affinity enhancement by multivalency of densely functionalized nanospheres, and signal concentration on magnetic micro- and nanoparticles. 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 food safety and traceability, and environmental control (pathogens, pollutants and contaminants).
- Analysis of nanomaterials internalization pathways and intracellular fate (Guarnieri et al., Nanoscale 2017; Corvaglia et al., Nanoscale 2017; Corvaglia et al., Patent 102016000014118)
- Unravelling common mechanisms of nanomaterials toxicity, based on nanomaterials’ physico-chemical properties; Safe-by-design approaches for nanomaterials (De Matteis et al., Nanomedicine 2015; Sabella et al. Nanoscale 2014; Guarnieri et al. Nanoscale 2014; Malvindi et al. PLoS One 2014; Rizzello et al., Chem. Soc. Rev. 2014)
- Assessing the inflammatory potential of nanomaterials (Persano et al., Biomaterials 2017; Gatto et al., submitted)
- Development of antioxidant nanozymes for nanomedicine and biomedical applications (Moglianetti et al. Nanoscale 2016; Pedone et al. Chem Soc Rev. 2017)
- Colorimetric sensors for food safety and traceability (Valentini et al., Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2017)
- Colorimetric antioxidant assays (Moglianetti et al., Patent 102017000030715)
- Colorimetric tests for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) fingerprinting (Valentini et al., Nanoscale 2016; ACS Nano 2013)
- Colorimetric tests for the quantification of oncogenic miRNAs (Persano et al., ACS Omega 2016; Degliangeli et al., JACS 2014)
- Universal PCR Developer (Valentini et al., Angewandte Chemie 2016; Patent WO2016097953)
- Colorimetric tests for sensitive nuclease detection (Persano et al., Scientific Reports 2015; Patent PCT/IB2015/059541)
- Colorimetric tests for heavy metals detection (Bertolacci et al., Patent 102017000052359)
- New imaging nanoprobes (Marotta et al., Patent 102017000087291; Moglianetti et al., Patent PCT/IB2016/057607; Maiorano et al., Nanoscale 2016; Maiorano et al., PCT/IB2016/051914; Kim et al., Nanotechnology 2016; Bartelmess et al., Nanoscale 2014; Leménager et al., Nanoscale 2014)
The laboratories are fully equipped with complete state-of-the art instrumentation for:
- Synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles (chemical hoods, DLS, Z-potential, NTA, TEM, SEM, ICP-AES, Confocal/STED/FLIM microscopy)
- Molecular biology (PCR, SDS-PAGE, Gel Doc, DIGE, MALDI-TOF)
- Cellular biology (cell culture facility, FACS, MAGPIX, plate readers)
Several collaborations are in place, both with clinical research centers in the field of cancer, neurosciences and autoimmune diseases, as well as with various industries and diagnostics companies, aimed at the clinical validation and commercialization of the proprietary technologies being developed.