UCBM leader with the works of the Endocrinology and Biochemistry Research Units

21 October 2016The Ministry of Education, University and Research has recently published the approval decrees relating to the call 2015 of the PRIN (Research projects of national interest). Out of nearly 4.500 applications submitted, there are 300 projects that the Miur has decided to financially support for a total of 92 million euros. More precisely, 4.431 proposals arrived, 25% more than the average of previous years' calls: 1.661 projects for the "life sciences" macro-sector, 1.483 projects for the "physics, chemistry, ingengineering" and 1.287 projects for the "human sciences" macro-sector. 

Within the "life sciences" macro-sector, out of a total of 109 financed projects, two see theUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma in the role of leader. On all the projects the success rate of Ucbm turns out to be 9% in front of one national average of 6.7%.

One of the awarded projects is “Pancreatic β-cell identity, glucose sensing and the control of insulin secretion”, coordinated by teacher. Paolo Pozzilli, Professor of Endocrinology ofUniversità Campus Bio-Medico di Roma. At the center of the study pancreatic beta cells, responsible for the production of insulin, the hormone that helps regulate glucose levels in the body in response to an increase in blood sugar. Beta cells have a key role in the natural history of diabetes: their death is the most relevant clinical event in type 1 diabetes and latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), while their impaired function and insulin resistance are main features of type 2 diabetes. The project intends to study the identity of pancreatic beta cells and the molecular mechanisms through which glucose determines insulin secretion, as well as to investigate the factors related to the loss of beta-cell function.

The study coordinated by the teacher. Mauro Maccarrone, Professor of Biochemistry of the Degree Course in Food and Human Nutrition Sciences UCBM. "Endocannabinoid Signaling in Alzheimer's Disease: A Novel Target for Mechanistic Understanding and Potential Therapeutics” is the title of the work aimed at investigating the therapeutic potential of endocannabinoids in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. The endocannabinoid system of our body is involved in many physiological processes, including motor control, memory or pain perception. It is composed of cannabis receptors, their endogenous ligands and metabolic enzymes. Recent studies have shown that the stimulation of cannabis receptors and the inhibition of Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (FAAH), the enzyme responsible for the hydrolysis of anandamide, have beneficial effects on animals with Alzheimer's disease. The aim of the project is to understand the key role of the FAAH enzyme and demonstrate how its inhibition can have beneficial effects on the pathological changes due to this type of dementia.

Among the winners of the funding also the project "Adaptation and tolerance of plants to abiotic stress in changing environmental conditions", coordinated by the University of Milan and in which the group of prof. Laura De Gara, Professor of Plant Physiology of the Degree Course in Food and Human Nutrition Sciences UCBM. In a context of major climate changes, which strongly affect agricultural productivity and food security, the project aims to identify the molecular mechanisms that allow plants to respond and adapt to environmental stress, in particular water stress. The project envisages the study of genotypes of rice, a species of great agronomic interest for Italy, and the identification of more resistant varieties capable of maintaining a high production even when subjected to the environmental variations induced in our country by changes climatic.