Institute of Molecular Genetics (IGM)

The Institute of Molecular Genetics (IGM) was founded in September 2000 by the merger of the Institute of Biochemistry Genetics and Evolutionary (IGBE) with the Center for the Study of Histochemistry (CSI), both located in Pavia. In 2007, the institute also included the sections of Bologna and Chieti. The different components that merged into the IGM are characterized by an high level of scientific and methodological complementarity. The IGM is characterized by the ability to combine research on basic biology with that of translational research.

There are three main research areas of interest:

  1. molecolar analysis and cell biology of hereditary genetic diseases;
  2. molecular characterization of aquired genetic diseases such as tumor and their progression;
  3. development of new screening methods for new compounds.

The research activities of the various groups are strictly interrelated utilizing the front-line methods of the modern biology (biochemical and pharmacological approach, molecular genetics and biology, cellular biology and bio-computing).

The research team involved in Superpig project includes:

·       Giovanni Maga, Senior Researcher. Resp. DNA Enzymology & Molecular Virology.

·       Federico Focher, Research Executive. Expertise: Biochiemistry, Enzimology, Molecular Biology, Applied Biothecnologies. 

·       Anna Cleta Croce, Researcher. Expertise: Photobiology, Optical Biopsy of Fluorescence e Autofluorescence, Endogenous fluorophores and morpho-functional properties of cells and tissue.

The laboratory has more than ten years experience in developing biologically active molecules for human health (antiviral, antiprotozoal, anticancer). In particular, the enzymology and molecular biology of the human and viral DNA replication and repair (Herpes simplex virus type 1, Herpes simplex virus type 2, SwinePseudorabies Virus, HIV and HCV) have been investigated and the biochemical and functional characterization of enzymes involved in DNA and nucleotides sysnthesis has been developed (Homo sapiens, HCV, HIV, Herpes simplex virus type 1, Herpes simplex virus type 2, Varicella Zoster, Swine Pseudorabies Virus, Simian Herpes B, Eimeria tenella, Trichomonas vaginalis, Toxoplasma gondii, Entamoeba histolytica).

The laboratory provides an integrated platform for the identification of new molecular targets and their validation, screening of inhibitory molecules and the study of their mechanism of action.

The long-established partnerships with synthetic and computational pharmaceutical chemistry laboratories across Europe shows how our laboratory is a center of excellence in providing biological/biochemical support to the developmental process for new drugs.

The centre has a system of medium throughput screening for biologically active molecules against different emzymatic targets (polymerase, helicase, protein kinase) based on in vitro test using microplate with different output system: luminescence, absorbance, fluorescence, radioactivity. Biological tests include both evaluation on purified enzymes and on cells.

Furthermore, the lab has the expertise for cloning, for the expression and purification of recombinant proteins and it can also provide the technical and scientific support for the identification of new molecular targets from the gene cloning to the protein expression and to the development of biological tests.

The laboratory can also provide scientific and technical support for biotechnological applications which include cloning, the expression and purification of recombinant proteins in eterologus system. In particular, it is also possible to develop cloning and expression strategies, purification protocols, systems of in vitro enzymatic activity evaluation. The lab can also carry out pilot- and medium-scale production of recombinant proteins.

With regard to the optical biopsy, the laboratory has more than ten years experience in the definition of the photophysical properties (in particular autofluorescence) of biomolecules that can therefore act as endogenous fluorophores (eg. NAD(P)H free/bound, flavins, proteins, fatty acids, lipofuscin-lipopigments, porphyrin, bilirubin).  Those molecules can be used as biomarkers of cells and tissue, to be used for in vivo testing, as in real time their functionality can be evaluated in normal or altered conditions.

The activities carried out is related to the development of new optical biopsy methods of autofluorescence applied to diagnostic in the biomedical field (eg. Differentiation of adenomas and carcinomas of the colon mucosa, real time definition of resection margin of glioblastoma in neurosurgery, characterization of metabolic status of cell in culture according to their degree of malignity, monitoring activity of metabolic functionality of transplanted kidney).

Therefore,a solid support for the photophysical characterization of new biological models according to their typical endogegenus fluorophores and the development of diagnostic procedured of optical biopsy applied to those can be provided.