Togetether with our activity of reference centre on molecular epidemiology of viral hepatitis, our laboratory lead fundamental research projects.
During the 2000 year the research activity of our laboratory has been focused on studies of hepatitis B and C infections. In particular, by the use of new methodological approches, as laser-based microscopic techniques (LCM), we are studying the interplay between genetic variability (mutations, deletions) and the infection pathogenesis. In particular, for HBV, point mutations and deletions of HBx gene are suspected to play a role in the multistep process of liver carcinogenesis. To better understand this issue, we start to comparatively analyse HBx sequences isolated from pure populations of hepatocytes selectively picked by LCM from distinct areas of tumour and non-tumour samples. For HCV, the pathogenesis of liver injury caused by chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is not well understood. Furthermore, is still debated whether or not sera and intrahepatic HCV viral load are correlated. To examine the relationship between HCV replication in liver tissue and hepatocellular injury our project will develop a direct measure of intra-hepatic HCV viral load by different quantitative approaches after laser assisted hepatocytes picking.
Projects :The laboratory have started a difficult project aiming to the analysis of the gene expression profile of in vivo infected hepatocytes using cells isolated by microdissection. Our goal will be to develop a methodology in order to obtain a representative cDNA library of the expression of different types of RNA. The difficulty in this approach is associated to the possible bias introduced through the amplification methods which are necessary when starting from a very small amount of material, as is the case with microdissected cells.