UNITO

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The University of Torino (UNITO), established since 1404, is one of the most ancient and prestigious Italian Universities. It has about 70.000 students, 4.000 academic, administrative and technical staff, 1800 post-graduate and post-doctoral students and 120 buildings in different areas in Turin and in key places in Piedmont. UNITO virtually covers every field of knowledge, has a remarkable research tradition in traditional subjects such as history, philosophy, law, economics and medicine and it is currently branching out into important modern sectors, such as biotechnology, food science, social politics, IT, performing arts and communication sciences. It is involved in different initiatives focused on the exploitation results, is shareholder of the University Incubator and is part of different innovation cluster initiatives based on a strong relation with industries. Within UNITO, the Department of Molecular Biotechnologies and Health Sciences is devoted to education in biotechnology up to the highest academic levels and to the operation and management of cutting-edge research facilities in this scientific field, with emphasis on biomedicine and molecular imaging.


The Dept. of Molecular Biotechnologies and Health Sciences hosts about 80 researchers/technicians with expertize in different fields ranging from biology to medicine to chemistry. In particular the personnel of the Molecular Imaging laboratories is very experienced in the field of synthesis and physical-chemical characterisation of imaging probes. The main lines of imaging research activities are the following: i) synthesis and MRI assessment of high-relaxivity Gd-based chelates (including multimetric derivatives and nano-sized assemblies); ii) synthesis and MRI assessment of novel agents based on chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST); iii) development of hyperpolarised molecules; iv) set up of cell labelling procedures by the internalisation of paramagnetic metal chelates; v) targeting receptors/transporters over-expressed / up-regulated on pathological cells with imaging probes (including particles); vi) targeting thrombi and plaques with suitably functionalised nanocarriers bearing different types of imaging reporters.
The department is well equipped in terms of both chemistry (synthesis and analytical characterisation) and biology laboratories (cell cultures and animal models preparation, including transgenic animal models), and possesses top-level field cycling relaxometry and imaging (MRI, PET/SPECT/CT, PA, US) equipment. A repository of imaging probes for the different imaging modalities and animal models is also present at the department.

UNITO Center

Team

Prof. Silvio AIME (M), is full professor of General and Inorganic Chemistry at the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences of UNITO and Head of the Molecular Imaging Center of UNITO. He is author of ca. 600 peer-reviewed publications and 26 patents. He is Editor of the journal “Contrast media and Molecular Imaging” and coordinator of the Chemistry Platform at the European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research (EIBIR). He has considerable experience in the field of probe chemistry. Since the very beginning of the molecular imaging era, his team has synthesized a number of compounds that have been evaluated as responsive probes (pH, temperature, biochemical microenvironment, enzymes or receptors) or as probes for cellular imaging and cell tracking. More recently, nano-sized carriers have been also considered to exploit their therapeutic and active targeting capabilities and to proof concepts within unconventional imaging modalities, “theranostic” implementations and multi-modality imaging.

Prof. Enzo TERRENO (M) is Associate professor of General and Inorganic Chemistry at the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences of UNITO and head of the Centre of Excellence for Preclinical Imaging. During his carrier, he has been scientific consultant for Bracco Imaging S.p.A. and for the Interuniversity Research Consortium for the Metal Chemistry in Biological Systems. He has actively participated to many national, FP6 and FP7 European projects. He is associate editor of the journal "Biomed Research International". His research interests cover the design and preclinical validation of (nano)probes for molecular imaging applications in the biomedical field. He is co-author of more than 100 papers on international peer-reviewed journals, 5 patents and 5 book chapters.

Dr. Daniela DELLI CASTELLI (F) currently holds a permanent position at the University of Torino as a tenure researcher in the field of General and Inorganic Chemistry at the Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences. Her research interests cover the design and preclinical validation of (nano)probes for molecular imaging applications in biomedical field specially CEST agents. She is co-author of 45 papers on international peer-reviewed journals and 5 patents.

Dr. Alessandra VIALE (F) is a Research scientist at the Molecular Imaging Center (Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Science) of the University of Torino.  Her research interests deal with the design, synthesis and characterization of novel contrast agents for molecular imaging applications, with particular focus on hyperpolarized molecules. She is co-author of about 50 peer-reviewed papers/book chapters and 1 patent.