Maria Laura Falchetti

Research Area Molecular oncology and pathology


Monterotondo Scalo – Campus “A.Buzzati Traverso”
+39 06 90091469 (office)
+39 06 90091467 (Lab)
marialaura.falchetti@cnr.it
Research Gate Page

Research Theme: Molecular Neuro-Oncology  

Keywords: Glioblastoma, kinase inhibitor, angiogenesis

The research focus of our lab is the brain tumor glioblastoma (GBM). Our research has evolved over time, but the characterizing red trail has always been GBM. We studied different aspects, some dealing with GBM tumor biology, others are therapy-oriented. GBM is the most aggressive brain tumor in the adults, and, despite all the efforts spent by the scientific community, its prognosis remains poor, with a median survival at diagnosis of about 14 months. The main histological features of GBM tumors are massive necrosis and prominent angiogenesis. Angiogenesis represents a distinctive peculiarity of GBM, and a landmark for diagnosis. Anti-angiogenic treatments targeting tumor vasculature are considered the new frontier in GBM therapy but, unfortunately, they are substantially disappointing the expectations. The most recent research published by our group characterizes GBM tumor response to the anti-angiogenic drug axitinib. We demonstrated that this small tyrosine kinase inhibitor triggers cell senescence in both tumor as well as endothelial cells, but according to different molecular mechanisms. This finding opens the way to tumor cell-specific treatments and our future will be strongly oriented in this direction. We are currently launching a molecular study for unravelling the molecular mechanisms of GBM response to regorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor which is performing well in relapsed GBM patients.  Further, we are participating in an ongoing study on the possibility of using functionalized liposomes as specific delivery vehicles to central nervous system for gene therapy.

Education:

  • 1998- PhD in Endocrinology and Metabolism (University of L’Aquila)
  • 1994-Qualification to the profession of biologist (La Sapienza University of Rome)
  • 1992- Degree in Biology, summa cum laude (La Sapienza University of Rome)

Positions:

  • 2018: ASN-MIUR- National Academic Qualification as Associate Professor in Applied Biology (05/F1)
  • 2009-present: Staff scientist (Primo Ricercatore), CNR
  • 2003-2008: Fixed-term researcher, CNR
  • 2003-2004: Adjunct professor of Neurobiology (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
  • 2003: Telethon Research fellow
  • 1999-2002: Postdoc fellow (Assegnista di Ricerca) (CNR-INMM)

  1. Falchetti ML et al (2003). Glioblastoma induces vascular endothelial cells to express telomerasein vitro. Cancer Res 63(13):3750-4. PMID: 12839970
  2. Pallini R et al (2006). Telomerase inhibition by stable RNA interference impairs tumor growthand angiogenesis in glioblastoma xenografts. Int J Cancer doi: 10.1002/ijc.21613
  3. Pacioni S et al (2017). Human mesenchymal stromal cells inhibit tumor growth in orthotopicglioblastoma xenografts. Stem Cell Res Ther (doi: 10.1186/s13287-017-0516-3).
  4. Mongiardi MP et al (2019.) Axitinib exposure triggers endothelial cells senescence through ROSaccumulation and ATM activation. Oncogene (doi: 10.1038/s41388-019-0798-2.)
  5. Pacioni S et al (2019). Brain Invasion along Perivascular Spaces by Glioma Cells: Relationshipwith Blood-Brain Barrier. Cancers (doi: 10.3390/cancers12010018)

Go to the publications page 

Researchers:
Maria Patrizia Mongiardi
email. mariapatrizia.mongiardi@cnr.it | tel. 06 90091401 
Andrea Levi 
email. andrea.levi@cnr.it | tel. 06 90091489 


Post-doctoral fellows:         
Maurizia Piras
email. maurizia.piras@ibbc.cnr.it | tel. 06 90091467


Graduate student:
Matilde Merolle
email. matildemerolle@live.it | tel.06 90091467

Collaborators:
Prof. Roberto Pallini (Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore)
Dott.ssa Lucia Ricci Vitiani (Istituto Superiore di Sanità)
Prof.ssa Manuela Helmer Citterich (Università di Tor Vergata)
Dott.ssa Giovanna Mancini (Istituto per i Sistemi Biologici-CNR)
Dott.ssa Manuela Pellegrini

I’m currently involved in:

  • Study Group on Brain Tumors (http://www.tumori-cerebrali.it/), a network of scientists and clinicians devoted to the study of brain tumors.
  • NEURONET Consortium, a network to investigate the molecular mechanisms of neuro-pathologies. I am one of the referents for the area of neuro-oncology.

Grants

Regione Lazio: LIPOBARR-Nanoparticelle lipidiche per attraversare la barriera ematoencefalica. Status: Active
(http://www.lazioinnova.it/)

Italian Ministry of Health-Ricerca Finalizzata: Control of growth and invasiveness of glioblastoma by modulation of ciliogenesis in glioma stem cells. A novel target against glioblastoma for precision medicine. Status: Pending
(http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/ministro/p4_10_1_1_atti_1_1.jsp?lingua=italiano&id=208-Pending)

AIRC IG 2020: Axitinib and regorafenib in glioblastoma: molecular characterization of tumor response and translational opportunities. Status: Pending
(https://www.airc.it/)

CNR Research Project  “Aging: molecular and technological innovations for improving the health of the elderly population” (Prot. MIUR 2867 25.11.2011).  Status: Expired
https://www.istec.cnr.it/index.php/progetti/141-progetti-conclusi/progetti-ministeriali-conclusi/468-invecchiamento-innovazioni-tecnologiche-e-molecolari-per-un-miglioramento-della-salute-dellanziano-progetto-bandiera-2012-2014

AIRC Regionale: Mechanisms and circumvention of chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer. Status: Expired
(https://www.airc.it/)