Development of in vitro techonologies for new research tools for pathology

The study of several pathological processes such as cancer, infectious diseases, and pollution is supported by both in-vitro and in-vivo modeling. Due to new legal frameworks in vivo studies are becoming more difficult and therefore in-vitro approaches are growing to develop new complex systems more representative of cell-to-cell interaction and metabolism. The research group has developed expertise in comparative oncology as well as in marine and wild animals’ pathology. Cell lines of human, canine and feline mammary cancer and marine mammals normal cell lines are available. The idea is to start with classical 2D system to develop new 3D tumoral and non-tumoral in vitro systems associated with microfluidic sensor devices to monitor cell growth as well as metabolism and the production of extracellular vesicles. The systems will be preliminary applied to study response to classical and innovative therapies and cell-to-cell interaction when it comes to cancer cell lines and response to specific pollutants and viruses (e.g. distemper) when it comes to marine mammals’ cell lines. Cancer in pets has been considered a good model for human breast cancer and it also recognized one of the major diseases affecting domestic dogs and cats. Marine mammals instead as mobile, free-ranging and, most importantly, protected species are indicators of environmental conditions such as pollution and viral spread.


Five publications related to the Research Topic for the candidate interview: 

  • Costard LS, Hosn RR, Ramanayake H, O'Brien FJ, Curtin CM. Influences of the 3D microenvironment on cancer cell behaviour and treatment responsiveness: A recent update on lung, breast and prostate cancer models. Acta Biomater. 2021 Jan 20:S1742-7061(21)00050-7. doi: 10.1016/j.actbio.2021.01.023. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33484910.

  • Aggarwal V, Miranda O, Johnston PA, Sant S. Three dimensional engineered models to study hypoxia biology in breast cancer. Cancer Lett. 2020 Oct 10;490:124-142. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2020.05.030. Epub 2020 Jun 20. PMID: 32569616; PMCID: PMC7442747.3.

  • Rosa RB, Dantas WM, do Nascimento JCF, da Silva MV, de Oliveira RN, Pena LJ. In Vitro and In Vivo Models for Studying SARS-CoV-2, the Etiological Agent Responsible for COVID-19 Pandemic. Viruses. 2021 Feb 27;13(3):379. doi: 10.3390/v13030379. PMID: 33673614. 

  • Kieninger et al. Microsensor systems for cell metabolism – from 2D culture to organ-on-chip. Lab on chip. 18(9): 1267–1390 (2018) 

  • O'Brien et al. RNA delivery by extracellular vesicles in mammalian cells and its applications. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 21(10): 585-606 (2020)

Contanct person:

Prof. Valentina Elena Giuditta Zappulli

Dept. Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science

University of Padova

Viale dell'Università 16, Legnaro, 35020 (PD), Italy

ph. 0039-049-8272962