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Laboratory of Immunology-Parasitology  

Lab Prof Taramelli


Research topics

The Laboratory of Immunology-Parasitology is unique in Italy and one of the few in Europe working on the identification, screening and early development of new drugs and new targets against malaria and lehismaniasis.  Both diseases, induced by protozoan parasites, cause more than 220 millions cases/year with frequent co-infections, and an overall mortality of about 500,000 people, especially children.  Since 2020, the research of new compounds against SARS-COV-2 has been initiated, as well.
The main research topics of the laboratory of Immunology-Parasitology are as follows:

  • Identification and early development of synthetic compounds or natural products with activity against sexual and asexual stages of P. falciparum and against both the amastigote and the promastigotes forms of Leishmania spp. Set up and validation of assays against ARS-COV-2
  • Study of the mechanism of action, cellular and bone marrow toxicities and risk of inducing resistance of potential new drugs
  • Studies on the innate immune responses and the pathogenesis of severe malaria and leishmaniasis, and co-infections: analysis of the role of parasites and their products on macrophage activation, cytokines production or activation of endothelial cells in in vitro models of angiogenesis. The aim is to identify new molecular targets for new drugs or new immunotherapies to be used in combination with current drugs.


In vitro cultures of wild-type and transgenic strains of P. falciparum in different stages are available, as well as wild-type and transgenic strains of Leishmania (L. infantum, L. tropica, L. braziliensis); cultures of isolates of SARS-COV-2. Chemosensitivity assays with spectrophotometric, fluorimetric or luminescent detection are available on MTS or robotic platforms (Tecan Evo75).

In vitro human or murine, cell lines are used for cytotoxicity, immunological and angiogenesis assays. Other available techniques are ELISA, cytofluorimetry, fluorescent microscopy. Basic biochemical and molecular techniques, like protein, lipid, DNA and RNA extractions, gel electrophoresis, quantitative RT-PCR, Western Blot and the technological platforms of UNIMI are also available.


The Laboratory is a network on its own because at present, it includes researchers moved to different Departments of UNIMI: Prof Nicoletta Basilico (nicoletta.basilico@unimi.it), who significantly contributed to the malariology group, now directs the Leishmaniosis Lab at DiSBIOC, working with Dr Sarah D’Alessandro (sarah.dalessandro@unimi.it) and Prof Silvia Parapini (silvia.parapini@unimi.it, Department of Biomedical Sciences for Health). The collaboration with the Virology group of Prof Pasquale Ferrante and Serena Delbue of DiSBIOC became crucial for the novel approaches in virology. Long term collaborations with researchers of several UNIMI Departments, including those of the Faculty of Pharmacy, are on-going. In Italy, Prof Taramelli is the Director and active collaborator of the Italian Malaria Network (Centro Interuniversitario di Ricerche sulla Malaria, CIRM), a research Centre which includes ten Italian universities and the Istituto Superiore di Sanità. International collaboration are with WHO, Medicine for Malaria Venture (MMV, www.mmv.org), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, European networks (COST Actions, FP-6 EU-ANTIMAL, FP7), Cooperation Projects financed by MAECI in Burkina Faso and South Africa, and in Asia, Universities of Macau, Bangkok and Pune.

Selected publications

  1. Saresella M, Basilico N, Marventano I, Perego F, La Rosa F, Piancone F, Taramelli D, Banks H, Clerici M. Leishmania infantum infection reduces the amyloid β42-stimulated NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Apr 23:S0889-1591(20)30213-0.
  2. D'Alessandro S, Corbett Y, Parapini S, Perego F, Cavicchini L, Signorini L, Delbue S, Perego C, Ferrante P, Taramelli D, Basilico N. Malaria pigment accelerates MTT - formazan exocytosis in human endothelial cells. Parasitology. 2019, 146:(3) 399-406 doi: 10.
  3. Scaccabarozzi D, Deroost K, Corbett Y, Lays N, Corsetto P, Salè FO, Van den Steen PE, Taramelli D. - Differential induction of malaria liver pathology in mice infected with Plasmodium chabaudi AS or Plasmodium berghei NK65- Malar J. 2018 9;17:18.
  4. Corbett Y, D'Alessandro S, Parapini S, Scaccabarozzi D, Kalantari P, Zava S, Giavarini F, Caruso D, Colombo I, Egan TJ, Basilico N. Interplay between Plasmodium falciparum haemozoin and L-arginine: implication for nitric oxide production. Malar J. 2018 Dec 6;17(1):456. doi: 10.1186/s12936-018-2602-0. PubMedPMID: 30522493; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6282336.
  5. Basilico N, Parapini S, Sparatore A, Romeo S, Misiano P, Vivas L, Yardley V, Croft SL, Habluetzel A, Lucantoni L, Renia L, Russell B, Suwanarusk R, Nosten F, Dondio G, Bigogno C, Jabes D, Taramelli D. -In Vivo and In Vitro Activities and ADME-Tox Profile of a Quinolizidine-Modified 4-Aminoquinoline: A Potent Anti-P. falciparum and Anti-P. vivax Blood-StageAntimalarial -Molecules.2017;22(12).pii:E2102



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