Nanotechnology tools to fight pandemic diseases
The infectious diseases for which vaccination and antimicrobial therapies have been particularly successful are those caused by extracellular pathogens, i.e. bacteria that spend a significant part of their life cycle outside the host cell. Conversely, vaccines and antibiotics against intracellular pathogens – bacteria that evolved to invade, colonize and replicate within host cells – have proven to be much more difficult to develop.
Our Host-Pathogen Dynamics Unit proposes a research vision that aims to revolutionize the way we treat infections caused by intracellular pathogens, with the aim of finding a universal therapy for infectious diseases that also contrasts the development of drug resistance. Our particular interest is the eradication of human tuberculosis, one of the worst human pandemics, but the ultimate goal is to create a universal delivery system that recognizes any infected cell. To do this, we will first examine the molecular “bar codes” of infected cells, i.e. those specific membrane proteins that cells express at the time of infection. This information is essential to then engineer a repertoire of super-selective polymeric nanoparticles, known as Polymersomes, functionalized with selective ligands capable of recognizing, binding and attacking only infected cells, leaving uninfected cells completely intact.
- Biochemical analysis and high-resolution confocal live-imaging of host-pathogen interactions
- Design of new nanotechnological tools to eliminate bacterial drug resistance
- V. Mercadante, E. Scarpa, V. De Matteis, L. Rizzello, A. Poma. Engineering Polymeric Nanosystems against Oral Diseases. Molecules 26(8), 2229 (2021).
- V.M. Gouveia, L. Rizzello, B. Vidal, C. Nunes, A. Poma, C. Lopez-Vasquez, E. Scarpa, S. Brandner, A. Oliveira, J.E. Fonseca, S. Reis, G. Battaglia. Targeting activated macrophages intracellular milieu to augment anti-inflammatory drug potency. BioRxiv 2021. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.22.449368
- Fenaroli, J. D. Robertson, E. Scarpa, V. M. Gouveia, C. Di Guglielmo, C. De Pace, P. M. Elks, A. Poma, D. Evangelopoulos, J. Ortiz Canseco, T. K. Prajsnar, H. M. Marriott, D. H. Dockrell, S. J. Foster, T. D. McHugh, S. A. Renshaw, J. Samitier Martí, G. Battaglia, and L. Rizzello*. Polymersomes Eradicating Intracellular Bacteria. ACS Nano 14, 8287–8298 (2020).
- Tian, D.M. Leite, E. Scarpa, S. Nyberg, G. Fullstone, J. Forth, D. Matias, A. Apriceno, A. Poma, A. Duro-Castano, M. Vuyyuru, L. Harker-Kirschneck, A. Šarić, Z. Zhang, P. Xiang, B. Fang, Y. Tian, L. Luo, L. Rizzello, G. Battaglia. On the shuttling across the blood-brain barrier via tubule formation: Mechanism and cargo avidity bias. Science Advances 6, eabc4397 (2020).
- . L. Ruiz-Pérez,# L. Rizzello,# J. Wang, N. Li, G. Battaglia, and Y. Pei. Polypyrrole and polyaniline nanocomposites with high photothermal conversion efficiency. Soft Matter 16, 4569-4573 (2020).
- C.K. Williams, Y. Zhu, A. Poma, L. Rizzello, V. Gouveia, L. Ruiz-Perez, and G. Battaglia. Metabolic-active fully hydrolysable polymersomes. Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 131, 4629-4634 (2019)
- Contini, R. Pearson, L. Wang, L. Messager, J. Gaitzsch, L. Rizzello, L. Ruiz-Perez, and G. Battaglia. Bottom-Up Evolution of Vesicles from Disks to High-Genus Polymersomes. iScience 7, 132-144 (2018)
- Liakos, L. Rizzello, H. Hajiali, V. Brunetti, R. Carzino, P.P. Pompa, A. Athanassiou, and E. Mele. Fibrous wound dressings encapsulating essential oils as natural antimicrobial agents. Journal of Materials Chemistry B 3, 1583-1589 (2015)
- L. Rizzello, and P.P. Pompa. Nanosilver-based antibacterial drugs and devices: mechanisms, methodological drawbacks, and guidelines. Chemical Society Reviews 43, 1501-1518 (2014)
- I. Liakos, L. Rizzello, D.J. Scurr, P.P. Pompa, I.S. Bayer, and A. Athanassiou. All-natural composite wound dressing films of essential oils encapsulated in sodium alginate with antimicrobial properties. International Journal of Pharmaceutics 463, 137–145 (2014)
- L. Rizzello, R. Cingolani, and P.P. Pompa, Nanotechnology tools for antibacterial materials. Nanomedicine – Future Medicine 8, 807-821 (2013)
- I. Liakos, L. Rizzello, I.S. Bayer, P.P. Pompa, R. Cingolani and A. Athanassiou. Controlled Antiseptic Release by Alginate Polymer Films and Beads. Carbohydrate Polymers 92, 176-183 (2013)