Basics of molecular virology and gene therapy (2016/2017)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Donato Zipeto
Donato Zipeto
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II sem. dal Mar 1, 2017 al Jun 9, 2017.

Lesson timetable

II sem.
Day Time Type Place Note
Monday 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM lesson Lecture Hall H  
Thursday 1:30 PM - 3:30 PM lesson Lecture Hall D  

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


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
G. Maga Occhio ai virus (Edizione 1) Zanichelli 2016 978-88-08-17380-5
David Quammen Spillover. L'evoluzione delle pandemie Adelphi 2014 978-8-845-92929-8
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

Seminar on a topic related to the course, in-depth or new, chosen by the student. Exposure will be followed by questions aimed at verifying the knowledge of the topics discussed during the course.