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Domestic Speakers Webinar Series

November 11, 2021

Elena Bellotti

Italian Institute of Technology



Schizophrenia is a serious psychiatric disorder characterized by psychotic symptoms, as well as impaired cognitive symptoms. Symptoms tend to fluctuate over time, with periodic relapses and remissions. The standard treatment for schizophrenia consists in life-long administration of antipsychotic drugs in combination with psychological intervention to reduce symptom severity and prevent psychosis relapse. However, due to the chronic nature of schizophrenia, a major limitation in the cure is the non-adherence to the treatment regimen, which leads to high rates of relapse and hospitalization. In addition, the prolonged use of antipsychotics causes severe side effects that lead to the discontinuation of the therapy. One method to increase patient’s adherence and compliance, and reduce side effects relies on the use of long-acting injectable formulations, which provide sustained release of the drug after one single administration. Moreover, long-acting formulations avoid plasma drug fluctuations, thus preventing side effects. To this end, in this work a long-term drug delivery system based on PLGA microparticles is engineered and tested for the controlled and continuous release of risperidone over a period of three months, following one single intraperitoneal injection.

About Elena


Elena obtained her MSc in Biomedical Engineering and her PhD in Chemistry and Materials Science from the University of Pisa. She carried out her post-doctoral training in the laboratories of Prof. Steven Little at the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA, USA), where she developed microparticles and thermoresponsive hydrogels for the controlled release of ocular therapeutics.

Currently, she is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie COFUND MINDED Researcher in the group of Prof. Paolo Decuzzi at the Italian Institute of Technology, where she develops polymeric microparticles and thermoresponsive hydrogels for the prolonged release of therapeutics for central nervous system disorders. The main goal of her research is to obtain a delivery system capable of releasing the drug over a period of several months with one single administration.

Mariella Rosalia

Department of Drug Sciences, University of Pavia



Peripheral vascular occlusive disease is an emerging cardiovascular disease, consisting in the blockage of blood vessels in limbs due to atherosclerotic plaques, causing reduced blood flow with extensive limb pain, and disfunction, ulcerations and high risk of amputation. For the most severe cases, reperfusion through open by-bass surgery is required, using autologous vessel implants due to lack of small-diameter (< 6 mm) synthetic grafts with adequate patency and compliance characteristics. Infections are frequent complications in vascular surgery and are associated to a high risk of death. Their management requests total graft excision and wound debridement, leading to failure of the vascular reconstructive surgery procedure. Aim of this webinar is to propose a local drug delivery, tissue engineering combined approach to overcome these drawbacks: we developed a 2.5 mm diameter tubular graft prototype, loaded with tobramycin and functionalized with polyL lysin (PLL). The graft was obtained by electrospinning polylactide-co glycolide (PLGA) to obtain a biodegradable scaffold that should mimic the extracellular matrix, and through PLL good cell attachment and proliferation within 48 hours was achieved. Tobramycin was successfully encapsulated in the electrospun fibers, allowing its controlled release fo  the desired time span (7 days). In vitro antibacterial assays performed on S. aureus and E. coli showed an excellent microbicidal effect throughout the 5 days of testing.

About Mariella


Mariella Rosalia obtained her Master’s Degree in Pharmacy from University of Pavia in 2020, after a 10 months internship in the applied microbiology laboratory of prof. Pietro Grisoli. In her thesis work she tested the antibacterial activity of silver sulfadiazine functionalized glass surfaces and discussed their potential use in the development of infection-proof medical devices. In 2013 and in 2012 she had the opportunity of internships, respectively at the Department of Biotechnology of the University of Insubria in Varese (Italy) and in a Q&C Laboratory at Lanxess GmbH in Krefeld Uerdingen (Germany). Currently, she is doing her PhD in Chemical Pharmaceutical Sciences and Industrial Innovation at University of Pavia under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Bice Conti and Prof. Dr. Ida Genta, working on the development of tubular local drug delivery platforms, manufactured with bioresorbable materials and suitable as scaffolds for in situ tissue regeneration, with special focus on vascular tissue.

His research field is about:

  1. modeling of drug release from delivery systems and drug absorption by living tissues,
  2. characterization (rheology/Low field NMR/release tests) of polymer based delivery systems
  3. bioavailability increase by means of nano-crystals and amorphous state
  4. characterization, by means of Low Field NMR, of the sputum of patients affected by chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.

Erika Tottoli

Department of Drug Sciences, University of Pavia



Chronic wounds are the most traumatic and physically debilitating injuries that can lead to an aberrant healing response culminating with the formation of hypertrophic scars (HTSs). Early wound excision and skin grafting are common clinical practices that have significantly improved the outcomes for severe burn injured patients by reducing mortality rate and days of hospital stay. However, currently available skin grafts and skin substitutes are fraught with complications, often resulting in long-term physical and psychological sequel and this type of practices are not enough to constrain the insurgences of infection, pain, and in particular HTSs, that continue to remain the major challenge in wound healing research and management. For this reason, the aim of this work is to propose an advanced medicated dressing combining the fiber technology with the controlled release of and antifibrotic and antimicrobial agents to create an innovative non-invasive topical prophylactic treatment for HTSs. This treatment allows to modulate major factors involved in wound healing process, as TGF-β1, TGF-β1R1, type I Collagen, alpha 1 (COL1A1), TNF-α and (IL)-1β. In addition, this advanced dressing is designed to remain on the wound bed for 3 days ensuring a controlled release of encapsulated agents and avoiding further injuries to the newly formed granulation tissue during dressing changes.

About Erika


She is a PhD student of Bioengineering, Bioinformatic and Heath Technologies course at University of Pavia. She is working in the field of Drug Delivery Systems combined with cutting-edge technologies as electrospinning, 3D printing and 3D bioprinting for advanced skin care applications. Her current research regards the design and development of an advanced electrospun texturized dressing for the prophylactic treatment of hypertrophic scars in complex skin wounds. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Medical Biotechnologies in 2020 from University of Pavia developing an experimental human skin Ex-vivo model for the analysis of skin care products according to the principle of Replacement, Refinement and Reduction (3R), for the realization of an alternative method to animal studies. During her University Internship she was able to specialize in field of skin care and severe skin problems. The great interest in the wound healing process has allowed to exploit her background in medical biotechnology and her expertise in bioengineering and pharmaceutical technology, for the multidisciplinary development of innovative advanced medicated dressing.