Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology


Mauro Dacasto, Marco De Liguoro, Francesca Capolongo, Roberta Merlanti, Mery Giantin

Research topic

The molecular biology of drug metabolizing enzymes (DMEs) and drug transporters (DTs) in veterinary species. This research topic includes the following: the study of molecular mechanisms governing DME and DT expression, regulation and biological activity - specifically, the effects of genetic (i.e., breed) and non-genetic (i.e., induction/inhibition phenomena) factors; the characterisation of bio-molecular mechanisms of action of xenobiotics in target or surrogate tissues, to be measured in vitro (based upon established cell lines, primary cultures, functional studies) or ex vivo; andthe evaluation of xenobiotic effects on the transcriptome of veterinary species.

New therapeutic strategies in veterinary and comparative oncology. This research topic includes the following: the study of the molecular biology of KIT-dependent tumours in pets using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) methodologies (i.e., exome-sequencing, RNA-seq) and DNA microarray; biomarkers (BMRs) discovery, namely BMRs of effect or susceptibility, with a potential impact on prognosis, diagnostics and treatment; and the identification of new comparative therapeutic targets and their bio-molecular characterization in in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo (preclinical or phase I) studies.

LC/MS-MS analyses applied to: the pharmacokinetics of active ingredients, in companion or farm animals, for the definition of correct dosages or withdrawal times; qualitative and quantitative identification of natural or synthetic toxic substances in food of animal origin and in environmental sample matrices; assessment of illicit-treatment biomarkers by means of in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro studies (using microsomes and primary cultures of hepatocytes); and identification of physiological markers of welfare in farm animals.

Sub-lethal effects of environmental contaminants in freshwater organisms from different trophic levels. Ecotoxicity tests are run to evaluate growth inhibition (algae, plants), reproduction inhibition or embryotoxicity (crustaceans), and behavioural changes (fish).