Some of Our research interests

Gina project

liver fibrosis: oral phospho-lipids on a molecular per-spective


non-hormonal local treat- ments for endo- metriosis

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Lipid-based therapeutics for liver fibrosis and their impact on extra- cellular vesicles

lisa project 3

Phospholipid-based depot techno- logy for sustained drug release

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Lipid mesophase based systems for drug delivery

Oral phospholipids and liver fibrosis: a molecular perspective

Chronic liver diseases cover a spectrum of pathologies headed by a process that involves a progressive destruction and regeneration of liver functional parts leading to fibrosis and then cirrhosis. Oral dosage forms can help to increase patient compliance significantly improving the course of such chronic disorders and lipid-based oral medications have been shown to be suitable candidates. The aim of this project is to develop and characterize novel oral lipid-based formulations for chronic liver pathologies by means of validated and optimized in vitro models. In order to select the most efficient excipients for novel phospholipid-based antifibrotic therapies, the role of single lipids is investigated by the screening of lipid components and thorough quantitative and qualitative analyses of their effect are performed at a molecular and cellular level.

For more information: Int. J. Pharm. (2023) 646:123473

Non-hormonal local treatments for endometriosis

Endometriosis and uterine fibroids are diseases of the female reproductive system that affect ~10 % and 25–50 % of women of reproductive age, respectively. They are characterized by chronic inflammation and fibrosis. Localized delivery to the female reproductive system has the potential to improve therapeutic efficacy, lessen side effects and reduce administration frequency compared to oral delivery. We develop vaginal dosage forms containing lipid nanocarriers with compounds repurposed for the treatment of endometriosis and study their effect on endometriotic cells in vitro.

For more information: Helv. Chim. Acta (2023) 106:e202200132; Eur. J. Pharm. Sci. (2023) 188:106501.  

Lipid-based therapeutics for liver fibrosis and their impact on extracellular vesicles

Liver fibrosis is the wound-healing response to chronic hepatic insults, often leading to the loss of organ function. It is characterized by the excessive deposition of scar tissue, a process driven by activated hepatic stellate cells (HSC). The broader aim of our research is to assess the impact of lipid-based therapeutics on extracellular vesicles isolated from hepatic cell lines, used as an in vitro model for the progression of liver fibrosis.
This project was financially supported by the Phospholipid Research Center.

For more information:  (a) Biochim. Biophys. Acta Gen. Subj. (2021) 1865:12955; (b) Commun. Biol. (2022) 5:1155 (c) Eur. J. Pharm. Biopharm. (2023) 182:32-40.

We also developed a top-down technology to generate cell-derived nanovesicles from hepatic stellate cells (HSC). We investigated the impact on pre-treatments on HSC) on the biological functions of the derived nanovesicles and we demonstrated the relevance of the protein composition in the lipid bilayer for antifibrotic properties.

For more information: Adv. Healthc. Mater. (2023) 12:e2300811.

Phospholipid-based depot technology for sustained drug release

The topic of this project is the development of a novel phospholipid-based depot formulation for sustained release of drugs. The main principle of the depot building is the aggregation of liposomes encapsulating a model drug. Besides the screening of appropriate formulations and the physico-chemical characterisation of the aggregates, the emphasis is the investigation of different encapsulation methods and following release studies. Another focus is the development of a novel manufacturing process and application system for this depot formulation compared to existing market products. Recently we reported about the lubricating properties of Zn-liposomal aggregates for intra-articular administration of rapamycin.

The project on subcutaneous administration was financially supported by the Phospholipid Research Center. For more information: Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces (2018) 168:10-17; Pharmaceutics (2020) 12, 567; Eur J Pharm Biopharm (2022) 181:300-309

Our study on osteoarthritis can be found here: J. Colloid Interface Sci. (2023) 650:1659-1670; Biomed. Pharmacother. (2023) 168:115819

Lipid mesophase-based systems for drug delivery

The proposed project aims to explore the full potential of lipidic mesophases (LMPs) as starting material for various drug delivery platforms. Capitalizing on the biocompatible and biodegradable self-assembled structure of LMPs, we developed a new rectal gel able to control ulcerative colitis-associated inflammation (TIF-Gel, patent pending). The gel is versatile and can host and release drugs of different polarities in a sustained manner, ameliorating colitis and decreasing adverse effects associated with systemic application of immunosuppressive treatments.

LMPs were successfully used also to manufacture printlets (3D printed tablets) with self-emulsifying properties in the gastrointestinal tract. We showed that the vitamin-enriched soy lecithin-based printlets survived the harsh conditions of the stomach and released a highly hydrophobic drug, obeticholic acid, in the small intestine. The in situ generated colloidal structures did not perturbed the permeability of the intestinal epithelial layer and contributed on the contrary to enhanced the solubility of obeticholic acid, that could exert antifibrotic action on hepatic stellate cells.

We explored also LMPs as starting material to generated long-acting injectable beads and we could prove that 4 different drugs with distinct chemical characteristics could be loaded and released differently. Each one is suitable for a different administration route.

For more information: Nature Commun. (2023) 14:3489; Adv. Mater. Technol. (2024) 2301930; J. Colloid Interface Sci. (2024) 664:1031