Cardiovascular Biology

NON-COMMUNICABLE DISEASES / Cardiovascular Disorders

Research Interests

Cell-cell interactions and cross-talk in angiogenesis, cancer and cardiac disease

Description of Research

Research projects focus on angiogenesis and aim to identify the mechanisms by which endothelial cells interact and comunicate with the other cell types composing the cardiovascular system. Particular interest is dedicated to the cross-talk between endothelial cells and cardiomyocytes in the heart. Thanks to established collaborations with multiple clinical units, the laboratory is particularly dedicated to the use of cellular and animal models of human diseases, as well as of viral and non-viral gene transfer approaches, to eventually develop novel therapeutic approaches for tissue revascularization and cancer treatment.

A second interest of the Group is in the field of laser light, where the major interest is in understanding how light interact with cells and tissue and in exploiting light to develop innovative therapeutic opportunities.

An important recent study including the Group has shown the therapeutic efficacy of a monoclonal antibody targeting Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP) 1.3 after myocardial infarction. The study proved that this antibody promotes cardiomyocyte survival after an ischemic insult and, at the same time, it modulates fibrotic remodeling, resulting in more elastic scarring and improved cardiac function (Vukicevic et al. Nature Communications, 2022). Another recent work is the result of an Interreg Italy-Slovenia project led by the Group, which combined virtual screening with wet experiments to synthesize and validate the therapeutic potential of a new small molecule inhibiting lung fibrosis (Ring et al. Cell Death Dis 2021).

Recent Publications

Ruozi G, Bortolotti F, Mura A, Tomczyk M, Falcione A, Martinelli V, Vodret S, Braga L, Dal Ferro M, Cannatà A, Zentilin L, Sinagra G, Zacchigna S, Giacca M. Cardioprotective factors against myocardial infarction selected in vivo from an AAV secretome library.  Sci Transl Med. 2022 Aug 31;14(660):eabo0699. 

Ciucci G, Colliva A, Vuerich R, Pompilio G, Zacchigna S. Biologics and cardiac disease: challenges and opportunities.  Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2022 Jun 29:S0165-6147(22)00128-6.

Vuerich R, Martinelli V, Vodret S, Bertani I, Carletti T, Zentilin L, Venturi V, Marcello A, Zacchigna S. A new laser device for ultra-rapid and sustainable aerosol sterilization. Environ Int. 2022 Jun;164:107272.

Vukicevic S, Colliva A, Kufner V, Martinelli V, Moimas S, Vodret S, Rumenovic V, Milosevic M, Brkljacic B, Delic-Brkljacic D, Correa R, Giacca M, Maglione M, Bordukalo-Niksic T, Dumic-Cule I, Zacchigna S. Bone morphogenetic protein 1.3 inhibition decreases scar formation and supports cardiomyocyte survival after myocardial infarction.  Nat Commun. 2022 Jan 10;13(1):81.

Ring NAR, Volpe MC, Stepišnik T, Mamolo MG, Panov P, Kocev D, Vodret S, Fortuna S, Calabretti A, Rehman M, Colliva A, Marchesan P, Camparini L, Marcuzzo T, Bussani R, Scarabellotto S, Confalonieri M, Pham TX, Ligresti G, Caporarello N, Loffredo FS, Zampieri D, Džeroski S, Zacchigna S.  Wet-dry-wet drug screen leads to the synthesis of TS1, a novel compound reversing lung fibrosis through inhibition of myofibroblast differentiation.  Cell Death Dis. 2021 Dec 17;13(1):2.

Baba MM, Bitew M, Fokam J, Lelo EA, Ahidjo A, Asmamaw K, Beloumou GA, Bulimo WD, Buratti E, Chenwi C, Dadi H, D’Agaro P, De Conti L, Fainguem N, Gadzama G, Maiuri P, Majanja J, Meshack W, Ndjolo A, Nkenfou C, Oderinde BS, Opanda SM, Segat L, Stuani C, Symekher SL, Takou D, Tesfaye K, Triolo G, Tuki K, Zacchigna S, Marcello A. Diagnostic performance of a colorimetric RT -LAMP for the identification of SARS-CoV-2: A multicenter prospective clinical evaluation in sub-Saharan Africa. EClinicalMedicine. 2021 Aug 28;40:101101.