University of Torino

The University of Torino (UNITO), established since 1404, is one of the most ancient and prestigious Italian Universities. It has about 70.000 students, 4.000 academic, administrative and technical staff, 1800 post-graduate and post-doctoral students and 120 buildings in different areas in Turin and in key places in Piedmont. UNITO virtually covers every field of knowledge, has a remarkable research tradition in traditional subjects such as history, philosophy, law, economics and medicine and it is currently branching out into important modern sectors, such as biotechnology, food science, social politics, IT, performing arts and communication sciences. It is involved in different initiatives focused on the exploitation results, is shareholder of the University Incubator and is part of different innovation cluster initiatives based on a strong relations with industries.

Within UNITO, the Department of Molecular Biotechnologies and Health Sciences is devoted to education in biotechnology up to the highest academic levels and to the operation and management of cutting-edge research facilities in this scientific field, with emphasis on biomedicine and molecular imaging. It hosts about 80 researchers/technicians with expertise in different fields ranging from biology to medicine to chemistry. The main lines of imaging research activities are the following: i) synthesis and MRI assessment of high-relaxivity Gd-based chelates (including multimeric derivatives and nano-sized assemblies); ii) synthesis and MRI assessment of novel agents based on chemical exchange saturation transfer (CEST); iii) development of hyperpolarised molecules; iv) set up of cell labelling procedures by the internalisation of paramagnetic metal chelates; v) targeting receptors/transporters overexpressed / upregulated on pathological cells with imaging probes (including particles); vi) targeting thrombi and plaques with suitably functionalised nanocarriers bearing different types of imaging reporters.

Key Staff

Prof. Silvio Aime, is full professor of General and Inorganic Chemistry at the School of Biotechnology of UNITO and Head of the Molecular Imaging Center of UNITO. He is author of ca. 600 peer-reviewed publications and 26 patents. He is Editor-inchief of the journal “Contrast media and Molecular Imaging”, coordinator of the Chemistry Platform at the European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research (EIBIR), Chair of the COST Action TD1004 (“Theranostics”). He has considerable experience in the field of imaging probes’ chemistry. Since the very beginning of the molecular imaging era, his team has synthesized a number of compounds that have been evaluated as responsive probes (pH, temperature, biochemical microenvironment, enzymes or receptors) or as probes for cellular imaging and cell tracking. More recently, nano-sized carriers have been also considered to exploit their therapeutic and active targeting capabilities and to proof concepts within unconventional imaging modalities, “theranostic” implementations and multi-modality imaging.

Prof. Aime is responsible for coordinating and monitoring of all the UNITO research activities. These will mainly deal with the in vitro characterization of glucose and glucose analogues at different field strengths and experimental conditions (WP4), with the correlation of the GlucoCEST contrast with the extracellular tumoural pH (WP3), with the assessment of the relationship between [18F]-FDG-PET uptake and the GlucoCEST contrast (WP5) and with the exploitation of the GlucoCEST contrast as a biomarker or treatment response (WP5). In addition he will supervise the toxicity studies of these molecules in rodents models (WP6). His long-term expertise in the field of Molecular Imaging and in particular in the development of CEST contrast agents will be fully exploited to critically assess all the results obtained with the investigated molecules and for finding alternative strategies in the case of the higher risk deliverables.

Bracco Imaging

Bracco Imaging SpA, part of Bracco Group, is one of the world leading companies in the imaging agent business. Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Bracco Imaging develops, manufactures and markets imaging agent solutions for in vivo diagnostic imaging.

Key Staff

Dr. Simona Bussi is head of the Test Facility (including Pharmacology, Toxicology and ADME/Analytics) at Bracco Research Centre. She leads a group constituted of 10 people. Her responsibilities as Bracco Test facility head include issuing of nonclinical development plans, conducting in-house GLP and exploratory toxicology, safety pharmacology and ADME studies, monitoring GLP studies contracted to CROs, reviewing/approving technical documents (protocols, reports, SOPs), issuing regulatory documents (IB, CTD, IND, etc, being the Nonclinical Expert as per Annex I of Directive 2001/83/EC), being responsible for the Animal Facilities according to Italian law (DL 26/2014).

Within GLINT, Simona Bussi is responsible for managing the nonclinical studies detailed in WP6. In particular, she will monitor activities in order to plan, execute, report and control appropriately the nonclinical safety studies which are planned for GLINT project.