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1.  Novel Epigenetic Target Therapy for Prostate Cancer: A Preclinical Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e98101.
Epigenetic events are critical contributors to the pathogenesis of cancer, and targeting epigenetic mechanisms represents a novel strategy in anticancer therapy. Classic demethylating agents, such as 5-Aza-2′-deoxycytidine (Decitabine), hold the potential for reprograming somatic cancer cells demonstrating high therapeutic efficacy in haematological malignancies. On the other hand, epigenetic treatment of solid tumours often gives rise to undesired cytotoxic side effects. Appropriate delivery systems able to enrich Decitabine at the site of action and improve its bioavailability would reduce the incidence of toxicity on healthy tissues. In this work we provide preclinical evidences of a safe, versatile and efficient targeted epigenetic therapy to treat hormone sensitive (LNCap) and hormone refractory (DU145) prostate cancers. A novel Decitabine formulation, based on the use of engineered erythrocyte (Erythro-Magneto-Hemagglutinin Virosomes, EMHVs) drug delivery system (DDS) carrying this drug, has been refined. Inside the EMHVs, the drug was shielded from the environment and phosphorylated in its active form. The novel magnetic EMHV DDS, endowed with fusogenic protein, improved the stability of the carried drug and exhibited a high efficiency in confining its delivery at the site of action in vivo by applying an external static magnetic field. Here we show that Decitabine loaded into EMHVs induces a significant tumour mass reduction in prostate cancer xenograft models at a concentration, which is seven hundred times lower than the therapeutic dose, suggesting an improved pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics of drug. These results are relevant for and discussed in light of developing personalised autologous therapies and innovative clinical approach for the treatment of solid tumours.
PMCID: PMC4031137  PMID: 24851905
2.  Non Ionising Radiation as a Non Chemical Strategy in Regenerative Medicine: Ca2+-ICR “In Vitro” Effect on Neuronal Differentiation and Tumorigenicity Modulation in NT2 Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61535.
In regenerative medicine finding a new method for cell differentiation without pharmacological treatment or gene modification and minimal cell manipulation is a challenging goal. In this work we reported a neuronal induced differentiation and consequent reduction of tumorigenicity in NT2 human pluripotent embryonal carcinoma cells exposed to an extremely low frequency electromagnetic field (ELF-EMF), matching the cyclotron frequency corresponding to the charge/mass ratio of calcium ion (Ca2+-ICR). These cells, capable of differentiating into post-mitotic neurons following treatment with Retinoic Acid (RA), were placed in a solenoid and exposed for 5 weeks to Ca2+-ICR. The solenoid was installed in a μ-metal shielded room to avoid the effect of the geomagnetic field and obtained totally controlled and reproducible conditions. Contrast microscopy analysis reveled, in the NT2 exposed cells, an important change in shape and morphology with the outgrowth of neuritic-like structures together with a lower proliferation rate and metabolic activity alike those found in the RA treated cells. A significant up-regulation of early and late neuronal differentiation markers and a significant down-regulation of the transforming growth factor-α (TGF-α) and the fibroblast growth factor-4 (FGF-4) were also observed in the exposed cells. The decreased protein expression of the transforming gene Cripto-1 and the reduced capability of the exposed NT2 cells to form colonies in soft agar supported these last results. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that the Ca2+-ICR frequency is able to induce differentiation and reduction of tumorigenicity in NT2 exposed cells suggesting a new potential therapeutic use in regenerative medicine.
PMCID: PMC3621667  PMID: 23585910
3.  A Combined Synthetic-Fibrin Scaffold Supports Growth and Cardiomyogenic Commitment of Human Placental Derived Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34284.
A potential therapy for myocardial infarction is to deliver isolated stem cells to the infarcted site. A key issue with this therapy is to have at one's disposal a suitable cell delivery system which, besides being able to support cell proliferation and differentiation, may also provide handling and elastic properties which do not affect cardiac contractile function. In this study an elastic scaffold, obtained combining a poly(ether)urethane-polydimethylsiloxane (PEtU-PDMS) semi-interpenetrating polymeric network (s-IPN) with fibrin, was used as a substrate for in vitro studies of human amniotic mesenchymal stromal cells (hAMSC) growth and differentiation.
Methodology/Principal Findings
After hAMSC seeding on the fibrin side of the scaffold, cell metabolic activity and proliferation were evaluated by WST-1 and bromodeoxyuridine assays. Morphological changes and mRNAs expression for cardiac differentiation markers in the hAMSCs were examined using immunofluorescence and RT-PCR analysis. The beginning of cardiomyogenic commitment of hAMSCs grown on the scaffold was induced, for the first time in this cell population, by a nitric oxide (NO) treatment. Following NO treatment hAMSCs show morphological changes, an increase of the messenger cardiac differentiation markers [troponin I (TnI) and NK2 transcription factor related locus 5 (Nkx2.5)] and a modulation of the endothelial markers [vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and kinase insert domain receptor (KDR)].
The results of this study suggest that the s-IPN PEtU-PDMS/fibrin combined scaffold allows a better proliferation and metabolic activity of hAMSCs cultured up to 14 days, compared to the ones grown on plastic dishes. In addition, the combined scaffold sustains the beginning of hAMSCs differentiation process towards a cardiomyogenic lineage.
PMCID: PMC3317941  PMID: 22509287
4.  Newly Engineered Magnetic Erythrocytes for Sustained and Targeted Delivery of Anti-Cancer Therapeutic Compounds 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17132.
Cytotoxic chemotherapy of cancer is limited by serious, sometimes life-threatening, side effects that arise from toxicities to sensitive normal cells because the therapies are not selective for malignant cells. So how can they be selectively improved? Alternative pharmaceutical formulations of anti-cancer agents have been investigated in order to improve conventional chemotherapy treatment. These formulations are associated with problems like severe toxic side effects on healthy organs, drug resistance and limited access of the drug to the tumor sites suggested the need to focus on site-specific controlled drug delivery systems. In response to these concerns, we have developed a new drug delivery system based on magnetic erythrocytes engineered with a viral spike fusion protein. This new erythrocyte-based drug delivery system has the potential for magnetic-controlled site-specific localization and highly efficient fusion capability with the targeted cells. Here we show that the erythro-magneto-HA virosomes drug delivery system is able to attach and fuse with the target cells and to efficiently release therapeutic compounds inside the cells. The efficacy of the anti-cancer drug employed is increased and the dose required is 10 time less than that needed with conventional therapy.
PMCID: PMC3044154  PMID: 21373641
5.  Action of combined magnetic fields on aqueous solution of glutamic acid: the further development of investigations 
In the present work the results of the known investigation of the influence of combined static (40 μT) and alternating (amplitude of 40 nT) parallel magnetic fields on the current through the aqueous solution of glutamic acid, were successfully replicated. Fourteen experiments were carried out by the application of the combined magnetic fields to the solution placed into a Plexiglas reaction vessel at application of static voltage to golden electrodes placed into the solution. Six experiments were carried out by the application of the combined magnetic fields to the solution placed in a Plexiglas reaction vessel, without electrodes, within an electric field, generated by means of a capacitor at the voltage of 27 mV. The frequency of the alternating field was scanned within the bounds of 1.0 Hz including the cyclotron frequency corresponding to a glutamic acid ion and to the applied static magnetic field. In this study the prominent peaks with half-width of ~0.5 Hz and with different heights (till 80 nA) were registered at the alternating magnetic field frequency equal to the cyclotron frequency (4.2 Hz). The general reproducibility of the investigated effects was 70% among the all solutions studied by us and they arose usually after 40–60 min. after preparation of the solution. In some made-up solutions the appearance of instability in the registered current was noted in 30–45 min after the solution preparation. This instability endured for 20–40 min. At the end of such instability period the effects of combined fields action appeared practically every time. The possible mechanisms of revealed effects were discussed on the basis of modern quantum electrodynamics.
PMCID: PMC2259351  PMID: 18218145

Results 1-5 (5)