Three Groups in Trieste operate in the field of cardiovascular disease. The Molecular Medicine Group (Giacca) aims to identify proteins and microRNAs controlling vascular and cardiac functions that might also be exploited for the therapy of cardiovascular disorders. A large part of this activity exploits viral vectors based on the adeno-associated virus (AAV) to deliver genes into the heart. The Cardiovascular Biology Group (Zacchigna) aims to characterise mechanisms by which the various cell types composing the cardiovascular system interact and communicate during development and disease. The Molecular Cardiology Group (Loffredo), focuses on discovering novel pathways that regulate cardiac hypertrophy, ageing and metabolic diseases, with specific attention to translating bench findings into new therapeutics.
In a collaborative study involving the Molecular Medicine, Cardiovascular Biology and the Tumour Virology groups in Trieste, a major advance was made in understanding the molecular basis for mesenchymal stromal cell engraftment in cardiac tissue (Bortolotti et al., 2017, Circulation, 136, 1509). Together with another collaborative study from the Molecular Medicine and Protein Network Groups, defining how Notch signaling can also contribute to regulating cardiomyocyte proliferation (Collesi et al., 2018, Cardiovasc. Res., 114, 103), these studies have major implications for improving gene and cell-based therapies of cardiac infarction.