Lucia Delogu’s research group is mainly focused on the characterization of new nanomaterials for biomedical applications
The three main pillars of Lucia Delogu’s research are:
1 – Nanomaterials in Imaging
This research line aims at exploring the potential of different functionalized materials to act as innovative contrast agents in particular for ultrasonography and MRI. Part of the research focus on a deep characterization of the contrast properties in vitro, in organs and tissue phantoms, as well as ex vivo and in vivo in multiple animal models including swine models. In this context, Dr. Delogu proposed functionalized multiwalled carbon nanotubes as innovative ultrasound contrast agents for imaging of liver and heart and abdominal organs (i.e. bladder) (Delogu LG PNAS 2012). More recently she proposed superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticle cystin functionalized as immune-compatible multifunction imaging contrast agents (Dolci S. RSC Advances 2016).
2 – Nanomaterials in Immunology
These research activities address the study of the nanomaterials interactions with the immune system to clarify the possible intrinsic immune-modulatory activities of carbon and magnetic nanomaterials in relation to their physical and chemical properties. Dr. Delogu’s vision is to create a nanomaterials library aimed at choosing nanomaterials for biomedical application also on the basis of their immune properties. In this context the works of Dr. Delogu are internationally recognized (i.e. Pescatori M et al. Biomaterials 2013, Orecchioni M et al. JTM 2014, Orecchioni M et al. Adv Healthc Mater. 2016). Moreover her group focuses on the possible application of specific carbon materials in immunotherapy in collaboration with leading experts in this field.
3 – Nanomaterials in Space Biology
This research line focuses on the development of innovative nanomaterials displaying unique properties to counteract dysfunctionalities associated with long space flight. Dr. Delogu suggested the ability of short oxidized multi-walled carbon nanotubes functionalized by 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition to activate immune cells. She discovered that carbon nanotubes, through their immunostimulatory properties, are able to fight spaceflight immune system dysregulations (Crescio C et al. Nanoscale 2014). Currently, the group is collaborating with Prof. Tasciotti (Dep. of Nanomedicine, Houston Methodist Research Institute – USA) to evaluate the potential to boost the osteogenic differentiation under microgravity condition of a novel synthetic magnesium-doped hydroxyapatite/type I collagen scaffold. The aim is to develop new tools against the bone loss during long space travels, induce osteogenic differentiation of the cells and to promote bone regeneration in clinically-relevant scenarios, confirming a high level of structural mimicry by the scaffold to the composition and structure of human osteogenic niche that translated to faster and more efficient osteoinduction in vivo and features that suggest such a biomaterial may have great utility in future clinical applications where bone regeneration is required.