Luigia Serpico Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships

Design and fabrication of nanocomposites as smart delivery systems for clinical applications, with focus on targeted gene therapy of resistant melonoma.

My name is Luigia Serpico, I obtained a MSc in Medical Biotechnology at University of Naples “Federico II” (Italy). During my master thesis I studied the involvement of microRNAs in cancer pathogenesis.
Given my transversal interest in scientific research, I decided pursue a PhD in Chemical Science, focused on design, synthesis and characterisation of new selenium-containing molecules with antioxidant activity, to potentially use as supplements in oxidative stress prevention.
My multidisciplinary formation allowed me to acquire cross-sectoral skills as well as an open-minded approach to research that reflect my attitude in exploring new scientific fields. Due to this, as part of a multidisciplinary group, I developed and patented a wearable device for glucose continuous monitoring for diabetics who play sports. 

During this MSCA-PF fellowship, under the supervision of Professor Santos, I will carry out a project with the aim to overcome the resistance of BRAF-mutated melanoma to current therapies. In detail, I will prepare a nanocomposite consisting of multi-engineered Selenium Nanoparticles (SeNPs) embedded in a biocompatible hydrogel for topical delivery of anti-BRAF small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). The system will exploit the properties of SeNPs, siRNAs and biocompatible materials to obtain synergistic effects, overcoming the main current challenges in the care of resistant melanomas. The delivery system will be tested both in vitro and in vivo, in order to evaluate its usability in clinical applications. Moreover, the eco-friendly and scalable procedures selected are aimed at maintaining a low environmental impact related to the project. 

Targeting cancer with multi-engineered selenium nanoparticles (SeNPs): Development of a biocompatible nanocomposite for targeted gene therapy in BRAF-mutated resistant melanoma