Francesca Liva

Tel:  0502219500


Prof.  Armando Rossello

PhD project Title:

Bioengineered in vitro models of human tissues and drug design and development

Research summary:

This project aims at designing and validating an outer blood-retinal-barrier (oBRB) on-a-chip to encourage the development of innovative treatments for retinal degenerative diseases, such as Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD). In particular, this project  exploits recent discoveries in micro and nanotechnology in order to: i ) develop and optimise a biotechnological model of the Bruch’s membrane (BrM) by using selected biomaterials resembling the biochemical and topological cues of the interface between Retinal Pigment Epithelium (RPE) layer and vascular network. The membrane facing the RPE will be assembled using an electrospinning system able to produce an unwoven structure made of fibers with nanometers resolution and a well defined porosity at micro and nanometers scale, able to mimic the extracellular matrix topology, which affects the permeability of this cell-free barrier; ii ) assemble a bioengineered in vitro model able to reproduce cell crosstalk between these eye structures. In particular, in order to mimic the cellular environment of oBRB, RPE cells will be cultivated over the BrM layer; iii ) define a novel biotechnological and commercial benchmark for a more rapid, low cost and customizable drug testing for visual disturbances. Such structure will be used to test the permeability and safety of novel drug candidates as well as to study their impact on retinal cells in physiological and pathological (AMD) conditions; iv) use these biomaterials as novel therapeutic implants for the cure of eye diseases. This in vitro 3D model can  reproduce the metabolic and functional properties of human cells in vivo.


Poster communications at congress:

Liva F a, De Acutis A  b, Montemurro F b , De Maria C b, , Cuffaro D a, Nuti E a, Orlandini E a , Rossello A a, Vozzi Gb . Fabrication and characterization of a biotechnological Bruch’s membrane for RPE in vitro model. Conference of the Division of Biological Systems Chemistry” Siena , 11-13 September 2019. Book of Abstracts: pag 53.