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 cardiovascular diseases, with a major interest in the cross-talk between multiple cell types in the heart. In particular, we are studying the parallelism between cardiac and vascular regeneration, to eventually develop novel therapies for cardiac ischemia. 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.

A second interest of the Group is in the field of cancer. Based on the evidence that the heart is rarely affected by cancer, the lab is investigating the role of mechanical forces in preventing the proliferation of both cardiac and cancer cells, and in the identification of novel molecules and mechanical stimuli that can be exploited for both cardiac regeneration and cancer therapy. 

An important recent study of 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 a POR-FESR project, which has tested the efficacy of a new cell therapy product, based on the stromal vascular fraction of the adipose tissue, for the revascularization and healing of ischemic wounds (Vuerich et al. npj Regenerative Medicine 2023).

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.