RESEARCH GROUP

Massimo Locati

The Laboratory of Leukocyte Biology investigates the molecular mechanisms controlling leukocyte recruitment in inflammatory conditions and in tumors. The lab adopts in vitro approaches, experimental murine models, and genomic and computational approaches to understand the functional role and biological relevance of different myeloid cells in human diseases.

Controlling leukocyte recruitment: role of chemokines and their conventional and atypical receptors

Chemokines are key in directing leukocyte recruitment in tissues. The lab investigates in particular expression and structure/function relationship of conventional and atypical chemokine receptors, both in physiological and pathological contexts, in order to improve the knowledge on their functional properties and to discover innovative approaches for identifying new drugs with improved therapeutic potential.

Immune response to tumors: the role of tumor-associated macrophages

Understanding the immunosuppressive mechanisms operating in tumors is key to guide patients’ selection and optimize success rate of immunomodulating therapies. The lab investigates the biology of tumor-associated macrophages in experimental tumor models and in human high grade glioma samples, an highly aggressive tumor with a particularly severe prognosis and an unmet medical need. As the impact of tumor heterogeneity on the biology of tumor-associated macrophages is unknown, we are focused on the characterization of the functional profile and spatial localization of macrophages infiltrating tumors to define their role in local immunosuppression and tumor progression and to identify immune biomarkers predictive of immunotherapies efficacy.

Relevance of macrophage polarized activation in inflammation and tumor biology

In the setting of immune responses, distinct combinations of immune cells and their released cytokines sustain macrophage activation towards different forms of macrophage activation, which are characterized by distinct biological properties. The lab investigates the role of different microenvironmental cues in dictating the various macrophage polarized activation and the underlying molecular mechanisms, as well as their relevance in inflammation and in tumor biology.

Group Members