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Protein engineering: from macromolecules to therapy

Our research aims to elucidate the pathological and physiological characteristics of selected proteins by exploiting protein engineering, structural bioinformatics and X-ray techniques. Based on this information, we design new molecular tools for the diagnosis and therapy of human diseases. We are currently working on five main projects:


Antibody affinity maturation

In this project, in collaboration with the Growth Factors Group of our Department, we are working to define the structural basis of affinity maturation in the mouse anti-phenyloxazolone system, originally studied by Nobel laureate Cesar Milstein. The figure above shows the crystals of a Fab fragment of antibodies.



We are dissecting this enzyme, used as a drug in pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, in order to elucidate both its mechanism of action and the basis of its problematic characteristics, and to generate improved versions of the molecule. The figure below shows a model of the E. coli enzyme with some critical residues highlighted in red.


Lipoprotein (a)

This protein is a novel cardiovascular risk factor, with a unique inverse relationship between its variable molecular weight, genetically determined by the number of kringle IV type 2 repeats, and its serum concentration. We are now trying to understand the biophysical characteristics and pathological potential of these different isotypes.


Autoantibodies in Cancer

This line of research aims to study autoantibodies as single specificities produced during the immune response to cancer, to define their structural characteristics at the atomic level and to define their epitope.


Claudia Scotti, PI


Phone: (+39) 0382 986335


Claudia Scotti, PI, Researcher

Maristella Maggi, Researcher

Greta Pessino, Post-doc

Silvia Calandra, MSc Fellow