INTRODUCTION TO LUCIA DELOGU’S CONCEPT: IMMUNITY BY DESIGN
Our research relies mainly on the translation of different nanomaterials (NMs) in the medical scenario. In collaboration with international leaders in nanomaterial synthesis and chemical characterization, our laboratory focuses on carbon-based materials (CBMs), such as: graphene, aminated graphene, graphene oxide, graphene nanoribbons, and carbon nanotube fibers. The PI Lucia Gemma Delogu obtained as scientific coordinator two European projects: the G-IMMUNOMICS, partnering project of the European Graphene Flagship, and Carbo-IMMAP financed under HORIZON 2020. Our research group started opening new fascinating perspectives for biomedical applications of graphene and other CBMs, from drug delivery to imaging and as immunomodulators (e.g., Pescatori M et al. Biomaterials. 2013).
The study of immune cell interactions with NMs is of fundamental importance for any translational medicine application. We demonstrated how the investigation of the immune cell reactions is a milestone for the safe exploitation of graphene and NMs in general (Orecchioni M et al. JTM 2014; Orecchioni M et al. Theranostics 2015; Orecchioni M et al. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2016). Our research group is working to build a pipeline based on multi-omics approaches to predict and detect the immune effects of multiple physicochemical parameters of CBMs. This is possible thanks to high throughput approaches (i.e., genome-wide transcriptomic analysis, multiparametric flow, single-cell mass cytometry, etc.) using a wide variety of in vitro and ex vivo human cells, as well as mice and swine. Our research aims at achieving a comprehensive and quantitative picture of CBMs immune activity and behavior, selecting them for different biomedical applications, such as cancer therapy (Orecchioni M et al. Nature Communications 2017, Orecchioni M et al. Adv Health Care Mat 2016). Moreover, within this context, our team works on the development of functionalized graphene-based tools against cancer and myelomonocytic leukemia in particular (Russier J et al., Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed. 2017).
GRAPHENE IN IMMUNOLOGY
Graphene is the most promising, versatile, and sustainable key enabling nanotechnology which may bring solutions in the near future to many areas spanning materials science and medicine. A critical step for future translational applications of graphene is represented by the assessment of its impact on the immune system (Orecchioni M et al. Nature Communications 2017, Orecchioni M et al. Adv Health Care Mat 2016).
The PI Lucia Gemma Delogu is currently on leaving as visiting scientist at Technische Universität Dresden (TUD) thanks to a Marie Curie Individual Fellow Horizon 2020 (IMM-GNRs project, host: Prof. Xiliang Feng). Within this context, our laboratory is going to study graphene nanoribbons (GNRs). GNRs are finite sized graphene materials with confined widths. In contrast to other carbon nanomaterials, such as graphene oxide, GNRs via the bottom-up organic synthesis will provide key novel aspects: i) the perfect control of structure at the atomic level, ensuring higher reproducibility; ii) the possible conjugation with polar PEG-side chains, allowing very stable dispersion in water; iii) the tailoring with different molecules and drugs, opening fascinating perspectives in healthcare. All these advantages compared to other NMs make them “gold” carbon tools for their development in a medical direction. In the next future, our team is going to show the immune activity of differently functionalized GNRs designed for biomedical applications.
IMMUNE PORTFOLIO OF OTHER NANOMATERIALS
The research group is exploring carbon and non-carbon-based materials, selecting them on the basis not only of their suitable chemical and physical characteristics but also of their bio- and immune-compatibility. The goal is to boost the acceptance of the “Immune by design” concept in a broad spectrum of nanomaterials (Farace C et al Scientific Report 2016, Dolci S RSC ADV 2016, Al Soubaihi et al. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2018, Toma et al. Biomacromolecules 2018). We are currently working with nanodiamonds, carbon fibers, carbon dots, and several others nanomaterials, in collaboration with the best key scientific leaders at world level in nanotechnology.