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RESEARCH AREA AND TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH
ROLE OF SENESCENCE IN CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASES

In vitro model of senescence in human cardiomyocytes: LCT is active in studying the role of senescence in cardiovascular diseases. In particular, an in vitro model of premature senescence in human cardiomyocytes (functional cardiac cells) was developed using the Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPS) technology. This model is a unique platform for the study of cellular mechanisms lying behind senescence-associated cardiac disease in human. The platform will be the basis of an important study aiming to evaluate the susceptibility of senescent cardiomyocytes to SARS-CoV-2.

In-vivo stress-induced senescence: The role of senescence is also studied in-vivo in animal model of myocardial infarction. The acute ischemic event induces the formation of fibrotic tissue and the accumulation of senescent cells that release factors that can alter the functionality of heart cells. This may contribute to exacerbate the necrosis process resulting from the acute ischemic event. We aim to studying possible “senolytic” and/or “senostatic” approaches to ameliorate senescence-associated damage in the heart.

 

EXOSOMES AND EXTRACELLULAR VESICLES AS LIQUID BIOPSY

EV as Biomarkers. Recently, the LCT laboratory has completed a series of studies performing molecular analysis of the biofluid-derived extracellular vesicles (EV). We profiled surface protein and membrane lipids of plasma and serum-derived EV. The EV-based diagnostic test standardized at LCT laboratory has been evaluated as diagnostic tool in acute cardiac rejection following heart transplantation to discriminate different types of rejection as well as for prognosis of severity of rejection. We recently evaluated the lipid composition of circulating EVs and their diagnostic potential after myocardial ischemia. Very recently we used the profiling of EV as prognostic tool for predicting severity in COVID-19 patients. Role of EV as Mediators of Inflammation. The laboratory has made important advances in research studying the role of circulating EVs resulting from the inflammatory process following an acute ischemic event of the myocardium. We proved that inflammatory EV secreted by polarized macrophages carrying inflammatory cytokine such as IL-1α, IL-1β e have direct cytotoxic effects on heart cells.

RESEARCH METHODS

The LCT lab has set up a laboratory for experimental cardiology including in-vitro, ex-vivo and in-vivo methods: In-vitro we standardized specific cell culture protocols for isolation of primary cardiomyocytes from murine and rat hearts. We have established the technology of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) to derive and culture in vitro cardiomyocytes to be used as “human-based” platform for modelling cardiac diseases. We are able to isolate and characterize EV from conditioned medium of in vitro cultured cells and from biological fluids. In this field, we use various cutting-edge techniques including size-exclusion chromatography, density gradient, immunoaffinity etc. Ex-vivo, we have standardized method for culture of heart in a Langendorff system for functional evaluation of heart function in an “ectopic” setup. In-vivo, we are able to perform model of myocardial infarction with permanent ligation of coronary as well as model of ischemia reperfusion. We have setup a model of cardiotoxicity induced by anti-cancer drugs using subacute injection of doxorubicin.

GROUP LEADER
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Lucio Barile

BRIEF CV

Lucio Barile is group leader of the Laboratory for Cardiovascular Theranostics at Istituto Cardiocentro Ticino  (ICCT), Ente Ospedaliero Cantonale. He holds a master degree in Pharmacy and PhD in Experimental Medicine from the University of Rome “La Sapienza”, Rome, Italy. He spent two years as visiting PhD Student at Institute of Molecular Cardiobiology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. He was part of a research team that developed a method for the isolation of adult human cardiac progenitor cells (CPC). During this period he was awarded by the America Heart Association with “Young Investigator Award 2005”.  Barile worked as PostDoc in the Department of Molecular Medicine at ICGEB Trieste-Component, and he was Research Scientist from 2009 to 2011 at Department of Biotechnology, University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy. He moved to ICCT in 2011 as senior scientist. At ICCT he established a research topic of secreted extracellular vesicles resulting in a publications among the very first reports on such topic.  He is currently Swiss Member of EU-CARDIOPROTECTION COST Action, which is a pan-European research network aiming to improve the clinical translation of novel cardioprotective approaches. Barile is part of the working group on Cardiovascular Regenerative & Reparative Medicine of the European Society of Cardiology. Since May 2020, he is Affiliate Professor at Institute of Life Science, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna, Pisa, Italy. Since December 2021 he has been appointed as Adjunct Professor by Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), he is currently faculty member of the PhD Scientific Committee for the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences at USI.
RESEARCHERS
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Claudia Altomare

SENIOR RESEARCH SCIENTIST
CELLULAR ELECTROPHYSIOLOGY

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Martina Arici

VISITING PHD STUDENT

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Vanessa Biemmi

PHD STUDENT FACULTY OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
UNIVERSITÀ SVIZZERA ITALIANA

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Sara Bolis

LAB MANAGER
PLURIPOTENT STEM CELL

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Edoardo Lazzarini

LAB COORDINATOR AND PROJECT LEADER

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Tácia Liguori

POSTDOC
CARDIAC MATRIX

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Stefano Panella

RESEARCH ASSISTANT
FLOW CYTOMETER

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Azucena Rendón Ángel

PHD STUDENT
FACULTY OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES
UNIVERSITÀ SVIZZERA ITALIANA

 

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

 

Cardiovasc Res. 2020 FebCOMPLETE LIST OF PUBLICATION : ORCID

PATENTS
  • Device and method for producing and purifying exosomes
    WO US US20200283715A1 Lugano Technology Transfer (LTT) SA
    Priority 2017-03-30 • Filed 2017-12-28 • Published 2020-09-10
  • Process and apparatus for producing exosomes
    WO IT WO2020136516A1 Supsi (Scuola Universitaria Professionale Della Svizzera Italiana)
    Priority 2018-12-27 • Filed 2019-12-19 • Published 2020-07-02
FUNDINGS
  • 2021-10 to 2024-10 | Grant Swiss National Science Foundation – SINERGIA-SNF (Bern, Switzerland) GRANT_NUMBER:  CRSII5_202302
    Targeting cellular senescence in physiological, pathological and iatrogenic conditions
  • 2021-06 fino a 2024-06 | Grant Fondazione Leonardo (Lugano, Switzerland) Exploring mechanism beyond susceptibility of senescent cardiomyocytes to SARS-CoV-2
  • 2020 fino a 2022 | Fondo di ricerca/Grant  Schweizerische Herzstiftung (Bern, CH) FF20019
    Isolation of nanobodies selective for cardiac specific antigens are instrumental for clinical management of cardiovascular patients based on Extracellular Vesicles analysis (liquid biopsy)
  • 2020-11 to present | Grant European Commission FET-OPEN H2020 (Brussels, Belgium) GRANT_NUMBER: 951768
    MARVEL:Evolving reversible iMmunocapture by membrane sensing peptides: towARds scalable extracellular VEsicLes isolation
  • 2019-01 to 2022-01 | Grant Swiss National Science Foundation – SNF (Bern, Switzerland) GRANT_NUMBER: IZCOZ0_18294
    EXaCT: EXosomes based Combination Therapy to target multiple signaling within cardioprotective pathways
PHOTOGALLERY