Drug discovery

We are active in two main drug discovery directions:

Membrane lipid therapy

A number of observations have lent support to a model in which thermal stress is transduced into a signal at the level of the cellular membranes. Our alternative, but not exclusive, approach is based on the concept that the initial stress-sensing events are associated with the physical state and lipid composition of cellular membranes, i.e., the subtle alteration(s) of membrane fluidity, phase state, and/or microheterogeneity may operate as a cellular thermometer. In fact, various pathological states and aging are associated with typical “membrane defects” and simultaneous dysregulation of heat shock protein synthesis. The discovery of nonproteotoxic membrane-lipid interacting compounds, capable of modulating membrane microdomains engaged in primary stress sensing may be of paramount importance for the design of new drugs with the ability to induce or attenuate the level of particular heat shock proteins.

Antimicrobial materials

Antimicrobial peptides (also called host defense peptides) are an evolutionarily conserved component of the innate immune response and are found among all classes of life. Fundamental differences exist between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells that may represent targets for antimicrobial peptides. These peptides are potent, broad spectrum antibiotics which demonstrate potential as novel therapeutic agents. Antimicrobial peptides have been demonstrated to kill Gram negative and Gram positive bacteria (including strains that are resistant to conventional antibiotics), mycobacteria (including Mycobacterium tuberculosis), enveloped viruses, fungi and even transformed or cancerous cells. Unlike the majority of conventional antibiotics it appears as though antimicrobial peptides may also have the ability to enhance immunity by functioning as immunomodulators.

(from Wikipedia)

Selected publications

Structural features of the C8 antiviral peptide in a membrane-mimicking environment 
M Scrima, S Di Marino, M Grimaldi, F Campana, G Vitiello, SP Piotto, ...
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes 1838 (3), 1010-1018 2014

The effect of hydroxylated fatty acid-containing phospholipids in the remodeling of lipid membranes
S Piotto, A Trapani, E Bianchino, M Ibarguren, DJ López, S Concilio
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes 2014

Differential effect of 2-hydroxyoleic acid enantiomers on protein (sphingomyelin synthase) and lipid (membrane) targets
S Piotto, S Concilio, E Bianchino, P Iannelli, DJ López, S Terés, ...
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes 2014

Plasma membranes as heat stress sensors: From lipid-controlled molecular switches to therapeutic applications 
Z Török, T Crul, B Maresca, GJ Schütz, F Viana, L Dindia, S Piotto, ...
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Biomembranes 2013

Hydroximic acid derivatives: pleiotropic Hsp co-inducers restoring homeostasis and robustness 
T Crul, N Toth, S Piotto, P Literati-Nagy, K Tory, P Haldimann, B Kalmar, ...
Current pharmaceutical design 19 (3), 309-346 2013

Membrane-lipid therapy in operation: the HSP co-inducer BGP-15 activates stress signal transduction pathways by remodeling plasma membrane rafts
I Gombos, T Crul, S Piotto, B Güngör, Z Török, G Balogh, M Péter, ...
PloS one 6 (12), e28818 2011