Meet Linda Avesani a Associate Professor of Plant Genetics in the Department of Biotechnology at University of Verona
‘Plant-produced nanoparticles! Meet Linda Avesani, as she talks about how plant biotechnology can lead the way to diagnosing complex autoimmune conditions with a high social impact
Linda Avesani is Associate Professor of Plant Genetics in the Department of Biotechnology at University of Verona and Chief Scientific Officer at Diamante, a bio-technology SME which aims to develop new approaches to diagnosing and treating autoimmune diseases.
Tell us why you chose plant biotechnology to explore novel diagnostics for difficult-to-diagnose conditions such as Sjögren’s Syndrome?
I’ve always been fascinated by how plant systems can offer therapeutic solutions for human diseases. I’ve worked in the plant molecular farming (PMF) field since my PhD, in particular for finding new solutions for autoimmune diseases, different chronic disease with a major impact on patients’ lives.
Plants are cost-effective bioreactors able to produce high concentrations of nanomaterials that can be used for autoimmune disease diagnosis. Plants are cheaper than other production systems because they do not need sterility and they grow with light, water and simple nutrients.
In the framework of several projects we’ve worked on, we had encouraging results on the diagnostic application of nanomaterials derived from plants for autoimmune diseases and considering their commercial potential we decided to start a new company focused on this aspect.
Why is it important to find new ways of diagnosing autoimmune conditions?
We have addressed autoimmune diagnosis since the beginning of our research because of they have the potential to have high social impact.
The importance relies on the fact that diagnosing autoimmune diseases is complex and often challenging since it requires multiple factors to be considered. We aim to provide new tools to help clinicians in formulating a diagnosis to help patients to figure out their condition, to avoid misdiagnosis and to start specific therapeutic approaches that help in controlling and, in some cases, slowing down autoimmune conditions.
What does the future hold for Plant Molecular Farming?
Plant molecular farming has the potential to provide an alternative platform to provide innovative and therapeutic solutions. In the future we would like to use nanoparticles, initially developed for diagnosis, to provide a therapeutic solution in slowing down the progression of autoimmune conditions.