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Curiosity and passion

by Giuseppe Cappellano

When I was a young boy, 10-12 years old, I set up a small laboratory in the basement with my best friend. We had a microscope, a piece of paper and a pencil…that was it! However, we were sure that this was enough for new discoveries. I looked at the leaf under the microscope and was fascinated by its structure. I thought it was just an ordinary green leaf, but I soon realised that it is much more than our eyes can see!

When art meets science: I once received a gift – a metal sculpture made from the recycled engine and car parts. I like it because it describes well the patience and concentration of a researcher looking into a microscope.

Years later, I became a biologist and researcher in the field of immunology. I observe human cells through advanced microscopes. They are much more complex than that green leaf where it all started. Curiosity and passion still drive me to research, as in childhood.

I am researching the causes of multiple sclerosis (MS). Understanding this disease is the key to a new treatment method. MS is an autoimmune disorder in which immune cells attack the nervous system. It is often diagnosed in young adults. The disease can make daily life very difficult for patients. They have limitations in daily activities due to fatigue, physical weakness, etc. There is no effective cure for this condition, but several medications are available that can slowly relieve symptoms. In some circumstances, they block inflammation and improve the quality of life of MS patients.

Fortunately, people with multiple sclerosis are not alone. They get support from our health system and private associations, and research gives them hope for a cure. I am confident that soon, hopefully within a few years, multiple sclerosis will become an easily treatable condition, or at least a new therapeutic drug will significantly improve the quality of life of MS patients.

Today we know that understanding the cause of MS and the mechanisms of its development could lead to new treatment options for patients. My current research investigates the role of a novel interaction of two molecules – already known to be involved in MS – but never before studied in MS. Perhaps modulation of binding with specially designed “interfering” molecules would be beneficial for MS, leading to the development of new therapeutics.

Dr. Giuseppe Cappellano is an assistant professor of immunology at the UPO in Novara. After his doctorate in molecular medicine, he did postdoctoral studies in the field of immunology, emphasising autoimmune diseases. His research interest are biomarkers for diagnosis and response to therapy and their involvement in the pathogenetic mechanisms of autoimmune diseases. He worked at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and at the Medical University of Innsbruck, where he focused his research on autoimmunity and immunobiocompatibility of biomaterials (e.g. silicone breast implants). He has a habilitation as an associate professor in the field of general and clinical pathology. He has been the president of ARCA since June 2018. In the FLAMIN-GO project, he deals with dissemination and communication activities.