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


Nome / NameRuolo / RoleEmail
Andrea FumagalliAssistant
Edoardo ScarpaSenior