Basics of molecular virology and gene therapy (2019/2020)

Course code
4S003706
Name of lecturer
Donato Zipeto
Coordinator
Donato Zipeto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
6
Academic sector
BIO/11 - MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
Language of instruction
Italian
Period
II semestre dal Mar 2, 2020 al Jun 12, 2020.

Lesson timetable

Go to lesson schedule

Learning outcomes

A: viruses as "enemies"
Provide the student with basic notions about 1) major bio-health viruses, 2) zoonoses and underlying mechanisms 3) emerging and re-emerging viral infections: molecular, biological and environmental causes, 5) arrested zoonoses (SARS and MERS), at risk (avian influenza) and non arrested (HIV / AIDS), 5) pandemic risk, 6) antiviral vaccinations, 7) other control and intervention measures

B: viruses like "tools"
Provide the student with information on: 1) Principles and limits of gene therapy, 2) Approaches and types of vectors, 3) Non-viral vectors, 4) Editing genes, 5) Major viral vectors, Advantages and disadvantages, 6) gene therapy clinical trials: disappointments and hopes, 7) current and future prospects

At the completion of the course students:
- will have a basic understanding of zoonoses and viruses
- will have acquired the knowledge necessary to understand how viruses can be engineered and used as therapeutic agents (vectors for gene therapy, oncolytic viruses).

Syllabus

Molecular Virology:
• Arbovirus (West Nile, Chikungunya, Zyka)
• Paramyxovirus (Nipah and Hendra viruses)
• Monkeypox and smallpox
• Hantavirus
• Filovirus (Ebola, Marburg) and hemorrhagic fevers
• Coronavirus: SARS and MERS
• Influenza, origin of epidemics and pandemics
• Avian influenza and swine flu, determinants of pathogenicity
• HIV: Discovery, Origin, Epidemiology
• HIV: structure, infectious cycle, pathogenesis, natural resistance
• HIV: treatments and therapies (microbicides, vaccines, antivirals)
• AIDS: new therapeutic perspectives
• New vaccine approaches: biotechnology and virological applications, molecular approaches for the development of antiviral vaccines, adjuvants

Gene Therapy:
• Introduction to gene therapy
• Non viral vectors, siRNA and miRNA, peptide vectors
• Gene editing: ZFN, TALEN, Crispr / Cas9
• Viral vectors, generality
• Adenovirus (AV)
• Adeno-associated virus (AAV)
• Herpes and poxvirus vectors
• Retroviral and lentiviral vectors
• Clinical trials: hematologic, metabolic, neurodegenerative, neuromuscular and dystrophies, cystic fibrosis
• Antitumor Gene Therapy, Oncolytic Viruses

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Terry A. Brown Biotecnologie molecolari (Edizione 2) Zanichelli 2017 978-88-08-32096-4
M. Giacca Terapia genica (Edizione 1) Springer Verlag 2011 978-8-847-01988-1
D.Harper Virus. Applicazioni biotecnologiche e strategie di controllo. (Edizione 1) Zanichelli 2013 978-8-808-17532-8

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam consists of an oral exam, during which the student will be presenting a seminar of about 15 minutes on a course-related topic (virus, gene therapy) or in-depth topics covered during the course. The presentation will be accompanied by specific questions to test the appropriate knowledge and preparation on the topics discussed iduring the course.