The research at the Department of Pharmacy leads to scientific discovery obtained by funneling multidisciplinary biomedical, chemical and technological expertise towards the following research areas:
- Design, chemical synthesis, sustainable approaches and analysis of molecules as therapeutic/diagnostic/theranostic agents. The discovery and the characterization of new molecules for therapeutic/diagnostic uses requires a proper mix of chemical and biological knowledge, which is combined with perspective medical applicability, thus representing a highly interdisciplinary field. Research at our department covers the various steps of this process, including molecular design, chemical synthesis and advanced analysis. Within this research line, the organic chemistry effort is multifaceted as it ranges from development of new reaction methodology to access biologically relevant heterocycles, glycoconjugates and glycomimetics, to the valorization of biomasses and exploitation of unconventional green solvents in an environmentally sustainable way, including a support by computational methods.
- Development and characterization of pharmaceutical dosage forms. A proper formulation of bioactive compounds is of extreme importance for the promotion of any pharmacological treatment. The dosage form ensures the drug to be available for absorption through biological barriers and to achieve the expected therapeutic activity maintaining an adequate physical, chemical and microbial stability. The components of the Technological Research Groups have expertise in the development of a variety of formulations mainly aimed at i) the design of soluble systems or nanocarriers (viscous solutions, nanoparticles, nanomicelles, liposomes) for the transport of drugs in ophthalmic, mucosal and oral fields and ii) the assessment of the technological and biopharmaceutical properties of the innovative systems through the use of in vitro, ex vivo or in vivo models.
- Identification of drug targets, mechanisms of action and pharmacological profiles of bioactive compounds. Biochemical, pharmacology, molecular and morpho-functional approaches are linked towards (i) the investigation of new molecular and genomic bases of diseases, (ii) the biological evaluation of new therapeutic agents and (iii) the discover of new pathological biomarkers or diagnostic/therapeutic targets. The research activity is primarily focused on the molecular mechanisms involved in the control of gene expression, differentiation, and cellular transformations in cancer, inflammaging, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular and ocular disease, through the in vitro and in vivo assay of biological activity of newly synthetic and natural compounds, as potential bioactive molecules. The successful of these projects is ensured by a multidisciplinary research activity sustained by different skills, from molecular biochemistry, cellular biology, pharmacology and physiology.
- Discovery and analysis of natural health products. The research on natural health products includes vitamins and minerals, botanicals (herbs and plant products), and substances that come from a natural source such as primary and secondary metabolites (phytochemicals) endowed with biological activities, aroma properties, and health benefit. The staff is involved in: -extraction, isolation and characterization of these natural products coming from medicinal, aromatic, industrial, food sources, and in vitro plant cultures; -aroma profile and essential oil analysis; -biological screening; -quality control of plants and derivatives.