• Istituto di Biologia e Patologia Molecolari

Tel :+390649910862
Fax :+39064440062

Istitute of Molecular Biology and Pathology - National Research Council
Department of Biochemical Sciences - A. Rossi Fanelli
Sapienza University of Rome - Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5 00185 Roma (RM)

My expertise includes molecular biology, biochemistry and inorganic chemistry. During more than 15 years of research activity, I developed my research in protein science within the framework of a strongly interdisciplinary approach. In particular, our group provided important contributions to current understanding of the relationships between the chemical, structural and functional properties of proteins belonging to the ferritin family, such as ferritins and DNA protecting proteins from starved cells (Dps).
Taking advantage of the knowledge and understanding of the physical and chemical properties of protein cage architectures acquired working on proteins belonging to the ferritin family, in recent years I devoted considerable efforts to the field of nano-biotechnology and cancer drug-delivery. In particular, in association with my collaborators, I developed efficient protocols for the guided synthesis and characterization of highly homogeneous nanoparticles (NPs) made of different metals (e.g., magnetite, cobalt-ferrite, palladium, gold and silver) or chemotherapeutic drugs (e.g. cisplatin, doxorubicin, etc.) within ferritin protein. We are currently designing and developing several systems based on human ferritins for drug-delivery applications.
A multidisciplinary approach based on biochemistry, inorganic chemistry, bioinformatics, physics, molecular biology, cellular biology and medicine is used for the development of new multifunctional nano-platforms for bio-medical applications such as diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The protein-caged NPs we are obtaining have a great potential not only in view of the development of new and powerful research tools, but also in terms of their possible commercial exploitation.
Keywords: Bio-nanotechnology, Nanomedicine, protein-based nanoparticles, diagnostic and therapeutic nano-carriers, cancer.

  1. Damiani V, Falvo E, Fracasso G, Federici L, Pitea M, De Laurenzi V, Sala G, Ceci P. Therapeutic Efficacy of the Novel Stimuli-Sensitive Nano-Ferritins Containing Doxorubicin in a Head and Neck Cancer Model. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Jul 18;18(7)

  2. Fracasso G, Falvo E, Colotti G, Fazi F, Ingegnere T, Amalfitano A, Doglietto GB, Alfieri S, Boffi A, Morea V, Conti G, Tremante E, Giacomini P, Arcovito A, Ceci P. Selective delivery of doxorubicin by novel stimuli-sensitive nano-ferritins overcomes tumor refractoriness. J Control Release. 2016 Oct 10;239:10-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2016.08.010. Epub 2016 Aug 12. PubMed PMID: 27524282
  3. Falvo E, Tremante E, Arcovito A, Papi M, Elad N, Boffi A, Morea V, Conti G, Toffoli G, Fracasso G, Giacomini P, Ceci P. Improved Doxorubicin Encapsulation and Pharmacokinetics of Ferritin-Fusion Protein Nanocarriers Bearing Proline, Serine, and Alanine Elements. Biomacromolecules. 2016 Feb 8;17(2):514-22. doi: 10.1021/acs.biomac.5b01446. Epub 2015 Dec 30. PubMed PMID: 26686226.
  4. Fantechi E, Innocenti C, Zanardelli M, Fittipaldi M, Falvo E, Carbo M, Shullani V, Di Cesare Mannelli L, Ghelardini C, Ferretti AM, Ponti A, Sangregorio C, Ceci P. A smart platform for hyperthermia application in cancer treatment: cobalt-doped ferrite nanoparticles mineralized in human ferritin cages. ACS Nano. 2014 May 27;8(5):4705-19. doi: 10.1021/nn500454n. Epub 2014 Apr 8. PubMed PMID: 24689973.
  5. Falvo E, Tremante E, Fraioli R, Leonetti C, Zamparelli C, Boffi A, Morea V, Ceci P, Giacomini P. Antibody-drug conjugates: targeting melanoma with cisplatin encapsulated in protein-cage nanoparticles based on human ferritin. Nanoscale. 2013 Dec 21;5(24):12278-85. doi: 10.1039/c3nr04268e. PubMed PMID: 24150593.
  6. Kostiainen MA, Hiekkataipale P, Laiho A, Lemieux V, Seitsonen J, Ruokolainen J, Ceci P. Electrostatic assembly of binary nanoparticle superlattices using protein cages. Nat Nanotechnol. 2013 Jan;8(1):52-6. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2012.220
  7. Vannucci L, Falvo E, Fornara M, Di Micco P, Benada O, Krizan J, Svoboda J, Hulikova-Capkova K, Morea V, Boffi A, Ceci P. Selective targeting of melanoma by PEG-masked protein-based multifunctional nanoparticles. Int J Nanomedicine. 2012; 7:1489-509. doi: 10.2147/IJN.S28242
  8. Kostiainen MA, Ceci P, Fornara M, Hiekkataipale P, Kasyutich O, Nolte RJ, Cornelissen JJ, Desautels RD, van Lierop J. Hierarchical self-assembly and optical disassembly for controlled switching of magnetoferritin nanoparticle magnetism. ACS Nano. 2011 Aug 23;5(8):6394-402. doi: 10.1021/nn201571y
  9. Kasyutich O, Ilari A, Fiorillo A, Tatchev D, Hoell A, Ceci P. Silver ion incorporation and nanoparticle formation inside the cavity of Pyrococcus furiosus ferritin: structural and size-distribution analyses. J Am Chem Soc. 2010 Mar 17;132(10):3621-7. doi: 10.1021/ja910918b
  10. Chiancone E, Ceci P. The multifaceted capacity of Dps proteins to combat bacterial stress conditions: Detoxification of iron and hydrogen peroxide and DNA binding. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2010 Aug;1800(8):798-805. doi:10.1016/j.bbagen.2010.01.013

- Elisabetta Falvo, Post Doc
- Miriam Carbo, PhD student
- Martina Pitea, undergraduate student
- Giuseppe Cipolla, undergraduate student

IBPM staff

Veronica Morea

Gianni Colotti

Andrea Ilari

Daniela Verzili


IBPM associate 

Emilia Chiancone, Dip.to Scienze Biochimiche "Sapienza" Università di Roma

Alberto Boffi, Dip.to Scienze Biochimiche "Sapienza" Università di Roma


External collaborations 


Giulio Fracasso, Dip.to Medicina, Università di Verona
Michele Milella, Istituto Nazionale Tumori Regina Elena-IRCCS, Roma (IT)

Patrizio Giacomini, Istituto Nazionale Tumori Regina Elena-IRCCS, Roma (IT)

Rita Falcioni, Istituto Nazionale Tumori Regina Elena-IRCCS, Roma (IT)

Luca Vannucci, Laboratory of Natural Cell Immunity, Institute of Microbiology, ASCR, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague (CZ)

-    2004:   PhD in Biophysics, Sapienza University of Rome.
-    2000:   University Degree in Biology at the Sapienza University of Rome.

- 2004-2007:  Young Research Fellow at the Institute of Molecular Biology and Pathology of the Italian National Research Council (CNR-IBPM).
- 2008: post doctoral fellow at the University of Rome ‘Sapienza’
- 2009: post doctoral fellow at the CNR-IBPM.
- Since 2009: research scientist at the CNR-IBPM.
- 2013: Visiting scientist at the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Institute of Microbiology, laboratory of immunotherapy (Prague, CZ). 


2010- to date:  Royal Society of Chemistry
                      American Chemical Society

2009:             Winner of the 2nd Edition “Research and Innovation” award, Business Innovation Centre (BIC) of Italy