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About us Faculty of Science and Engineering Our Research GRIP Nanomedicine and Drug Targeting Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry


Our research interests are in Bioinorganic and Medicinal Inorganic Chemistry. In particular the study of the role of metal ions in biological systems and of the mechanisms of action of metal-based anticancer agents are active topics of our research program. Besides synthetic chemistry and structural characterization of new metal complexes we strongly focus on an intensive biological evaluation of the new compounds as possible anticancer agents, and on the investigation of their mechanisms of action.

Of note, the peculiar chemical properties of metal-based compounds impart innovative pharmacological profiles to this class of therapeutic and diagnostic agents, most likely in relation to novel molecular mechanisms still poorly understood. The development of improved metallodrugs requires clearer understanding of their physiological processing and molecular basis of actions. Our research in the field constitutes the basis of a systematic and interdisciplinary approach to address some of the critical issues in the study of the molecular mechanisms of metallodrugs’ action via the implementation of high-resolution biophysical techniques coupled with more pharmacological methods. Thus, biophysical techniques such as high-resolution mass spectrometry (both molecular and elemental sensitive), various spectroscopies and X-ray crystallography, are complemented by fluorescence microscopy, protein expression and purification, screening of enzyme activity, as well as in vitro and ex vivo screening of drug toxicity, accumulation and metabolism.

An important task of our research is to discover the unique properties of metal compounds as modulators (inhibitors or activators) of proteins/enzyme activities, and to exploit them for different therapeutic and imaging purposes or as molecular biological tools. As an example, we have identified the aquaporins (AQPs), membrane water channels with crucial roles in normal human physiology and pathophysiology, as possible target systems for metal compounds. Certainly, there is considerable potential for translating knowledge of AQP structure, function and physiology to the clinic, and there is great translational potential in aquaporin-based therapeutics.

Overall, these projects encompass a variety of metal ions and different ligand systems studied by various techniques, as well as numerous collaborations in the field. Our research is highly interdisciplinary ranging from Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry to Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Toxicology and Molecular Pharmacology.

The main topics studied in our lab include:

•         Synthesis of functional gold complexes

•         Molecular investigations of metal compounds’ interactions with biologically active ligands

•         Structure-function relationships studies of metal compounds with pharmacological properties

•         Design of metal-based theranostic agents

•         Design of metal compounds as possible aquaporin inhibitors with different therapeutic applications or as chemical probes

•         Development of in vitro and ex vivo assays for anticancer metallodrug screening.

Last modified:01 November 2017 12.07 p.m.