Francesco Pileri, PhD student in Natoli’s lab, wins the Best Talk Award at the ImmunoSensation2-IFReC International School on Advanced Immunology

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Congratulations to Francesco for his Best Talk Award at the “IFReC-ImmunoSensation International School on Advanced Immunology”. The school, which was successfully launched in 2022, is held annually, alternating between Germany and Japan, and represents an excellent opportunity for young immunologists to meet and discuss with world leading immunologists and peers. The selection process is highly competitive. 

The project Francesco presented aims at the identification of critical factors in macrophage activation, focusing on kinases, which are proteins playing key roles in human physiology -and pathology-  as part of numerous intracellular pathways, acting through the chemical modification of target proteins. Indeed, due to their altered activity in many pathological conditions, a number of kinase inhibitors are clinically approved, including inhibitors of the BCR-Abl (imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib, bosutinib, ponatinib) of the JAK (Ruxolitinib), ErbB (lapatinib, afatinib), EGFR (gefitinib, erlotinib, lapatinib), VEGFR (sorafenib, vandetanib), MEK1/2 (trametinib), PI3K (idelalisib, alpelisib) kinases, and are widely used in as anticancer therapies, in solid and non-solid tumors.  

However, as compared to the high number of existing kinases, only very few are sufficiently characterized, hence representing good pharmacological targets. Francesco’s project aims at identifying the “dark kinases”, namely the uncharacterized kinases, involved in macrophage activation. By employing CRISPR-based screenings, different macrophage stimuli, and inflammatory molecules as readout, his work will contribute to describing the role of dark kinases in human physiology and pathology, paving the way to the identification of novel inhibitors to be exploited in the future in a clinical setting

Francesco joined Natoli’s lab at the dept of experimental oncology in 2020, with a master’s degree from the University of Bologna, as PhD student of the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM) and he is co-author of three papers in peer-review journals.