Institute of Crystallography - CNR

Investigation on the nanoparticles-driven controlled delivery of antimicrobial peptides to treat dermatological infections

This proposal sets its foundations on a multidisciplinary research team with strong expertise in biochemistry, dermatology,

microbiology, nanomaterial engineering, physical-chemistry. All the required competences are therefore present to unlock the

potential of functional nanomaterials for developing more targeted therapeutic approaches to treat acne, and potentially other

chronic relapsing cutaneous diseases which are influenced by dysbiosis. The design idea is a non-invasive treatment that employs

biocompatible nanostructured materials containing “smart” nanoparticles as light-to-heat transducers. The thermoplasmonic heating

will promote the controlled release of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). Our strategy, inspired by the innate immunity mechanisms,

foresees the benefit of applying the topic treatment only on a localised area and for a limited duration, thereby avoiding the

exposure of the patient to antibiotics and the risk to develop multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria. The choice of acne is due to its high

incidence especially in adolescent population (about 90%) often compromising the patient’s quality of life, and negatively affecting

their compliance to the treatment. Our research team can count on dermatologists, that are (inter)national experts in acneic

pathology. In addition, current treatment algorithms for acne include the use of antibiotics for 8-12 weeks which further expose this

young population group to the risk of developing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) if they do not adhere to prescriptions. The AMR is a

global threat, and MDR bacteria spread easily, posing a therapeutic problem in all fields of medicine. In this respect one of the

microorganisms pathogenically associated to acne as well as atopic dermatitis is Staphylococcus aureus that belongs to the ESKAPE

group which also includes Enterococcus faecium, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and

Enterobacter spp, all together representing a major global concern as carriers of MDR. A recent report from the Italian Agency of

drug is alarming as it shows that out of 35,000 deaths in Europe, caused by untreatable infections, 11,000 were in Italy. Finding new

and more natural means of treating infections, thereby avoiding the mis/over-use of antibiotics, while exploring alternative (or

adjuvant) paths, is an urgent need and fully within the UN SDG3 (Good Health and Well-Being). The participation in the team of CNR

researchers experts in the field of engineering and chemistry of nanomaterials will place us in the best possible position to realize

AMP pre-loaded gauzes and pathches made of biocompatible polymers functionalized with photoactive nanomaterials. These gauzes

will be tested on patients recruited in accord to the ethical procedures. The biochemistry and microbiology expertise from the PI will

complete the framework by choosing and testing the most interesting AMPs and analysing the effect of the treatments on the

follicular microbiome.

Bando / Avviso
Ente finanziatore
Ministero dell'Università e della Ricerca, Unione Europea, NextGenerationEU
Coordinatore scientifico
Data inizio
Data fine
Responsabile CNR
Altro personale CNR