Respiratory disorders affect millions of people worldwide, from preterm-born infants to adults. Despite advancements in medical research, current interventions are not curative and do not halt progression of these disorders, which are for the most part chronic and progressive. There are currently many induced animal models of human respiratory diseases available for study, and small mammals, like rodents and rabbits, have become the most common species used for experimentation, but remain relatively poorly characterized at the molecular, especially gene expression, level.
The main aim of this project, in collaboration with Chiesi Farmaceutici, is the molecular characterization of pre-clinical animal models of human pulmonary diseases, to enable the elucidation of relevant mechanisms of action, the unveiling of biomarkers of disease progression and the identification of new targets for intervention in patients. The core bioanalytical technology employed to pursue this goal is transcriptome profiling by RNA-seq analysis. Downstream analyses, covering from RNA-seq read mapping to functional characterization via a variety of bioinformatic tools, will have as ultimate outcome the identification of a set of independently validated, possibly pathogenetically informative candidate genes, whose expression levels change in a development- and/or treatment-dependent manner.