Science Highlights

This year from Cape Town, Dr. Ramesh Sonti, Director, ICGEB India, Dr. Luiz Zerbini, Director, ICGEB South Africa, and Dr. Vittorio Venturi, ICGEB Scientific Coordinator, based in Italy presented highlights from the year in research.

In April 2023, ICGEB Trieste’s research was reviewed by 14 members of the Scientific Council, with the overall quality of science, and scientific publications, having improved significantly over the last 3 years as ICGEB also moves to develop technologies such as enzymes and global manufacturing using synthetic biology.

Recent papers have been published in top journals such as Nature (the Buratti Group, on TDP-43 loss and ALS-risk); NPG Regen Med (the Zacchigna Group, on Ischemic wound revascularization); Oncoimmunol (the Benvenuti Group, on mature neutrophils in lung cancer tissues that impair the differentiation program of anticancer cells and limits the efficacy of checkpoint inhibitors); Blood (the Efremov Group – with first a recent PhD graduate as first author – on macrophage-derived signals that support the growth of CLL and Richter syndrome in murine models); Cell Reports (the Group of Del Sal – also full professor at the University of Trieste, and associated with the IFOM institute in Milan – on a protein that protects the cellular nucleus from Alzheimer’s disease); and Nature Cell Biol (the Marcello Group, on cell DNA damage that underlies long-term effects caused by SARS-CoV2 infection).

In New Delhi, the work of the ICGEB in the bioeconomy (agriculture and technology related to agriculture, including bioenergy), is growing, with traditional genetics and genome editing techniques being used to increase the speed of crop improvement, embracing of science and technology for nutrition and agriculture.

Dr. Sonti presented highlights from the Chandele EMORY Vaccine Program that has isolated a rare monoclonal antibody against SARS-CoV-2 that exhibits a broad range of neutralisation across multiple live variants. The Mohmmed Group has published work on Plasmodium falciparum in PLoS Pathogens, and among the many interesting developments in Bioenergy, the Yazdani Group, has engineered an ethanologenic bacterial strain to ferment glucose and xylose. The Thakur Group has published in the J Plant Physiol on the role of the mediator of transcriptional regulation of thermo-morphogenesis in Arabidopsis and its role in plant adaptation to growth at higher temperatures. Dr M.K. Reddy, Arturo Falaschi Emeritus Scientist, he outlined, has a promising research line using genome editing to knock out negative regulators of yield in rice, and the Kaul lab is working on producing rice lines with high iron levels, through genome editing generating much interest.

Prof. Zerbini, reported on the vibrant and growing institution in Cape Town and the focus on the impact of the research as it expands and improves in biopesticides and plant systems biology, in tune with the work of the Component in New Delhi. Equally, the work of the Virology and Emerging Viruses Group is enhanced by links to the work in Trieste.

Read more in the Annual Report for 2022, now online.

The Goals of Science: ICGEB researchers tell the stories of their commitment to sustainable development through basic science.