RESEARCH

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LIVER BIOENGINEERING AND DISEASE MODELING

Liver bioengineering is advancing rapidly through the development of in vitro  tissue and organ models. We aim to optimize the current methods to generate liver tissue surrogates, in order to obtain better patient-specific liver substitutes. To this aim, we are combining adult stem cell-derived liver organoids with bio-inspired synthetic hydrogels. Moreover, we are using this technology to model multifactorial metabolic diseases, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and to design an innovative high-throughput drug screening platform.

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TISSUE MECHANICS IN LIVER CANCER 

Cell responses to abnormal tissue mechanics contribute to the aetiology and clinical presentation of many important diseases, including cancer. We are investigating whether aberrant mechanotransduction, installed during chronic liver diseases, plays a causal role in liver cancer onset. The elucidation of these mechanisms might allow us to design innovative therapeutic approaches to prevent liver cancer development in patients with advanced metabolic liver disorders.

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CANCER METABOLISM AND TISSUE ARCHITECTURE

Cells possess evolutionary conserved mechanisms to convert mechanical inputs into coherent biological responses. We previously provided evidence that tissue mechanics are intimately connected with intracellular metabolic pathways. In our lab, we are currently working on understanding how signals arising from an aberrant tissue architecture, influence the cellular metabolic machinery to drive cancer development. 

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STEM CELL HOMEOSTASIS IN THE ENTEROHEPATIC SYSTEM

Adult stem cells reside in specific tissues and are responsible for the repair of damaged tissues. Our lab is working on understanding the fundamental principles that regulate hepatic and intestinal stem cell homeostasis and the biological events that govern epithelial repair. Moreover, we study the molecular mechanisms that control somatic stem cell deregulation in disease, with the ultimate goal of translating this knowledge for regenerative medicine therapies.