Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D.
Project Involvement: Project 2 - Biochemistry of Apoptosis in CLL
Maurizio Pellecchia's Research Focus Cancer, Infectious Diseases
Dr. Pellecchia's research focuses on the characterization of intermolecular interactions, on the determination of protein structures and on the development of small molecule inhibitors of protein targets involved in cell-signaling, virulence factors and host-pathogens interactions.
The resulting compounds are then used as molecular probes to provide further understanding on the mechanism of action of their respective targets. The overall goal of the laboratory is to successfully bring together basic sciences involving modern nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) techniques, computer modeling and traditional medicinal chemistry to elucidate the molecular basis of disease and to develop novel therapeutic compounds. Amongst the several projects that Dr. Pellecchia's laboratory have initiated in the past years, noteworthy are the discovery, characterization and further development of potential therapeutic compounds targeting proteins of the Bcl-2 family, such as Bcl-xL and Bcl-2 (cancer targets) as well as Bid (involved in neurodegenerative diseases) and protein kinases such as p38 and Jnk (inflammation and diabetes).
In addition, other very active areas of research involve the development of antitoxin compounds targeting the Anthrax metalloproteinase LF and protein components of the type-III secretion system, common to many pathogens, including Yersinia pestis and Salmonella. Finally, an area in which Dr. Pellecchia remains particularly interested is the development of novel NMR-based techniques to aid the characterization of protein structure, protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions using NMR spectroscopy. The design and synthesis of several high affinity ligands, for example, was made possible by the SAR by ILOEs approach, a NMR-based method developed in Dr. Pellecchia's laboratory that enables the identification of high affinity ligands for a given protein target.