Non-Communicable Diseases

Cardiovascular Disorders

Two Groups in Trieste and one group in New Delhi operate in the field of cardiovascular disease. The Molecular Medicine Group (Giacca) aims to identify proteins and microRNAs controlling cardiac protection and regeneration that might be exploited for the therapy of heart diseases. The Cardiovascular Biology Group (Zacchigna) aims to characterise the mechanisms that hamper the formation of new blood vessels in the heart after myocardial infarction and to develop innovative strategies to revascularise ischaemic tissues. Recent work by the two Groups at Trieste have addressed mechanisms of disease onset and progression during COVID-19 pandemics. 

The Structural Biology Group at the New Delhi campus is developing oxLDL receptor, LOX-1, inhibitors using structure-based drug discovery methods. These inhibitors have shown pre-clinical efficacy against atherosclerosis and hold promise as a breakthrough treatment for atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (ASCVD).


Two studies involving these Groups in Trieste exploited a lineage tracing system to definitively show that the adult heart is not able to form new blood vessels in response to pro-angiogenic stimuli and set European standards for the use of echocardiography in rodent models of cardiac disease (Kocijan et al. 2021, Cardiovasc Res, 117, 1, 256-270; Zacchigna et al. 2021, Cardiovasc Res, 117, 1, 43-59). In addition, Zacchigna and Giacca collaborated on the characterisation of viral persistence and tissue damage in the lung of COVID-19 patients (Bussani et al. 2020, EBioMedicine, 61:103104).