Current projects

 Current projects

DICCAP – Dispositivo Innovativo per il Controllo in Continuo di Acido Peracetico

Financed by the Tuscany Region

POR-FESR 2014-2020 D.D. nr. 5906 of November 20, 2015

Primary Investigator: Prof. Cristina Nativi

Researcher: Dr. Matteo Gentili, Dr. Tommaso Martelli

DICCAP has been recently funded in the frame of a call for projects of the Tuscany Region.

The project is intended to develop new technologies for the improvement of the standards of occupational safety and health. In particular, DICCAP project aims at addressing the problem of the detection of airborne Peracetic Acid in the workplace, an issue which has been recently become more and more serious.

Peracetic acid is a disinfectant with a high bactericidal, virucidal and sporicidal activity and it has been increasingly used over the past years as a safer and greener alternative to commonly used disinfectants. It is widely used for the sterilization of surgical instruments (endoscopes), for the disinfection of containers in the food industry and for the reduction of the bacterial load of waste waters, also thanks to its biocompatibility. Nevertheless it is a harmful compound, able to irritate eyes and mucous membranes even at very low concentrations with potentially lethal consequences; furthermore, its monitoring is still difficult, thus exposing the workers to potentially dangerous levels of this toxic chemical. 

Within the DICCAP project, Giotto Biotech will develop a simple and user friendly system for the real time detection of toxic concentrations of Peracetic Acid with a potential strong impact on the safety of any worker dealing with this substance.

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Action (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN) H2020-MSCA-ITN-2015

Financed by the European Commission, Contract number 6755555

Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Michael Sattler

Primary Investigator: Dr. Matteo Gentili

Researchers: Maxime Denis

AEGIS is a Marie Skłodowska -Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) for early stage researchers (ESR) funded by the European Commission under the H2020 Programme the EU framework programme for research and innovation.

The principal aim of the AEGIS ITN is to implement the first comprehensive, intersectoral cross-disciplinary and structured curriculum for doctoral students in the European Research Area by establishing a unique training platform for the next generation of European researchers in early drug discovery. A significant added value is provided through networking with key European pharmaceutical companies. A key research aim of AEGIS is improving the efficiency and success of early stage drug development by combining innovative methods and techniques to tackle difficult but promising targets (i.e. protein-protein interactions), as potentially valuable drug targets are often neglected due to the high risk associated with their validation.




Financed by the European Commission, Contract number 264257

Primary investigator: Dr. Tatiana Kozyreva

Researchers: Magdalena Korsak, Alexandra Louka

Recent evidence shows that a large share of proteins gain functional advantages by remaining natively unstructured, either completely or partially, thus challenging well-established concepts in structural biology. In this frame NMR plays a strategic role to characterize at atomic resolution the highly dynamical properties of such “intrinsically disordered proteins”, and follow their (possible) reorganization by interacting with partners in environments as complex as whole cells. In order to achieve the full potential of this approach current methods should be further developed and properly interfaced with other complementary techniques. The purpose of our network is thus to establish a framework to train a new generation of young researchers in this emerging area. Understanding the functional role of intrinsically disordered protein states, which are involved in many biochemical processes at the basis of life, is expected to have a significant impact in biomedical research and in the design of new drugs.



Financed by the European Commission, Contract number 317127

Primary investigator: Prof. Claudio Luchinat

Researcher: Dr. Tobias Schubeis

A network combining 9 academic research groups and 4 collaborating industrial companies is proposed to train the next generation of PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, in developing and applying novel experimental and theoretical methods in the NMR spectroscopy of systems containing paramagnetic metals. The assembled team, with researchers distributed throughout the EU, will investigate a variety of important problems in chemistry and biology including catalysts, battery materials, metalloproteins and large protein-protein assemblies. The researchers will be trained to attack key problems that prevent the widespread usage of NMR spectroscopy as applied to paramagnetic materials, and to develop new methods to improve significantly the structural and electronic information that can be obtained from these systems. Three experimental and theoretical work programs are proposed, which build on, but also move significantly beyond the recent advances in pNMR, many of which have originated from members of this network: i) developing experimental approaches for obtaining NMR spectra from challenging paramagnetic molecules and materials, ii) extending the fundamental theoretical understanding of pNMR parameters, and facilitating their quantum-chemical implementations in first-principles software; iii) attacking relevant chemical and biological problems, with novel techniques to determine structure (e.g., of insoluble proteins and disordered battery electrode materials), dynamics and reactivity around metal centres, and exploring interactions between, e.g., biomolecules, catalytic centres and supports. Integral to the research-based training programme is the series of workshops, practical training courses, international conferences, and outreach actions, located at the different sites. These will i) train the young researchers of the network in the basics of pNMR and ii) disseminate the results of the network to the larger NMR community and to the general public.

Pathway-27 "Pivotal assesment of the effects of bioactives on health and wellbeing. From human genoma to food industry"

FP7-KBBE-THEME 2 2007-2013

Financed by the European Commission, Contract number 311876

Primary investigator: Prof. Claudio Luchinat

Researcher: Dr. Panteleimon Takis

PATHWAY-27 is a research project carried out by a pan-European interdisciplinary team of 16 life/social scientists and 9 high tech/food processing SMEs. It will uniquely address the role and mechanisms of action of 3 bioactives: docosahexaenoic acid, β-glucan, anthocyanins. These have been chosen for known/claimed effectiveness in reducing some risk factors of Metabolic Syndrome (MS), enriching 3 different widely-consumed food matrices (dairy-, bakery-, egg products).

PATHWAY-27 will evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen bioactives as ingredient of enriched foods, evaluating both the bioactive-food matrix interactions and of the extent of synergism between the 3 active molecules. The project will determine the impact of  the bioactive enriched foods (BEF) on physiologically-relevant endpoints related to MS risk and deliver a better understanding of the role and mechanisms of action of the 3 bioactives and BEF. Parallel in vitro/in vivo studies and the use of advanced omics techniques will enable the selection of robust biomarkers to be used in the evaluation of BEF effectiveness.

The final PATHWAY-27 deliverables will include not only the formulation and production of BEF having a demonstrated effect in MS dietary treatment, but also generic protocols, best practices and guidelines for planning dietary interventions, and guidance to SMEs for producing health-promoting BEF and for submitting convincing health claim dossiers to EFSA; the latter will be greatly facilitated by one SME partner who has submitted 3 successful dossiers.

PATHWAY-27 guidelines  will apply to a wide range of bioactives and BEF, and therefore will be useful not only for partner SMES but suitable for a general use by the food industry.

The expected project impact will be optimised across Europe by targeted dissemination events to industry (especially SMEs), consumers and S&T stakeholders.

BIOLABEL "Valorizzazione della biomassa algale per la marcatura isotopica delle biomolecole"

PROG. 5/10 - DECRETO MIUR DEL 7/7/2011 - RIF. ART. 11 D.M. 8/8/2000 N. 593

Financed by MIUR

Primary Investigator: Prof. Claudio Luchinat

Researchers: Dr. Letizia Barbieri, Dr. Valentina Borsi, Dr. Linda Cerofolini, Dr. Sara Neri,  and Dr. Giacomo Sampietro

MAPI-INT "Ricerca di marcatori precoci di ischemia intestinale. Studio prospettico osservazionale."


Financed by the Tuscany Region

Primary Investigator: Dr. Tatiana Kozyreva

Researchers: Caterina Bernacchioni, Matteo Gentili, Martina Norcini, Jeffrey Tyler Rubino, and Panteleimon Takis

L'idea alla base del progetto è la determinazione di uno o più marker di ischemia intestinale utilizzando una tecnica innovativa e di alto livello scientifico-tecnologico, quale la metabolomica via risonanza magnetica nucleare (NMR).

L’individuazione pronta e accurata dei pazienti affetti da ischemia intestinale è uno strumento essenziale per salvare la vita del paziente. Infatti, il ripristino della vitalità intestinale è strettamente tempo-dipendente e la mortalità per tale patologia si attesta intorno al 60-80% dei casi, a causa di trattamenti tardivi dovuti alla difficoltà di diagnosi. Al momento attuale non esistono marcatori specifici di ischemia intestinale; le molecole individuate non sono utili per la diagnosi precoce, raggiungendo livelli sierologici significativi nelle fasi non reversibili dell’ischemia se non addirittura nelle fasi tardive. La metabolomica è una tecnica innovativa che permette una determinazione "qualitativa" e "quantitativa" delle piccole molecole che derivano dal metabolismo cellulare (metaboliti) nei fluidi biologici; in particolare sembra che i metaboliti presenti nel siero (estratto dal sangue intero) siano i più sensibili ai cambiamenti metabolici. Questa tecnica permette la definizione di nuovi criteri per evidenziare lo stato di salute e lo stato di malattia di un individuo, sulla base di una valutazione dei livelli dei metaboliti e di parametri metabolici sistemici, consentendo di determinare un profilo metabolomico specifico. La metabolomica, nel contesto del progetto MaPi-Int, servirà ad individuare un profilo metabolomico specifico (o degli specifici marker) che caratterizzano i pazienti affetti da ischemia intestinale, in una fase precoce della patologia stessa, al fine di rendere possibile il tempestivo ripristino della funzionalità intestinale di tali pazienti.
Il progetto è stato suddiviso in quattro Obiettivi Operativi:
Obiettivo operativo 1 (OO1) - Reclutamento dei pazienti
Obiettivo operativo 2 (OO2) - Preparazione e analisi dei campioni per la determinazione della proteina I-FABP
Obiettivo operativo 3 (OO3) - - Analisi metabolomica
Obiettivo operativo 4 (OO4) - - Fasi preliminari di sviluppo di un kit diagnostico e analisi di mercato

LUS BUBBLE "Light and ultrasound activated microbubbles for cancer treatment"


Primary Investigator: Dr. Tatiana Kozyreva

Researchers: Mercia De Sousa, Dr. Tommaso Martelli

The scope of this project is the demonstration of a platform to image and treat cancer by the use of microbubbles triggered by the combination of optical and acoustical excitation of plasmonic particles delivered to malignant cells.

The introduction of plasmonic particles for cancer imaging and treatment is becoming a clinical option (see Innovative gold nano-shells, cages and rods are being engineered to target and sensitize tumors to near infrared (NIR) light for photoacoustic imaging, which combines optical contrast and acoustical detection, and therapy by optical hyperthermia. The main drawback of optical hyperthermia is its invasive profile, which dissipates the potential of plasmonic particles to accumulate into cancer cells with high specificity. One alternative may be the use of short and intense light pulses to trigger bubbles and impart damage to individual subcellular targets. While this approach has been demonstrated with gold nano-spheres resonating at green frequencies of poor biomedical interest, the use of NIR resonant particles conflicts with their optical instability. We propose to develop multishell particles of high damage threshold and synchronize an optical and acoustical activation to mitigate the optical requirements to generate bubbles and enable their manipulation. Mini invasive and destructive bubbles for imaging and therapy will be investigated in phantoms and cellular cultures. This project fits in the expanding market for efficient, mini invasive and cost effective solutions for cancer imaging and treatment. Pioneering innovation at the crossroads of nanomedicine, biomedical optics and acoustics will be pursued by customized modification of plasmonic particles in ongoing clinical trials and the adaptation of laser and ultrasound devices in common clinical use. The endpoint of this project will be the proof of concept of a novel technology to detect and destroy malignant cells in benchtop tests with cellular cultures and the design of protocols for in vivo tests with rodents.