The Experimental Neurology Unit (ENU) was implemented in 2007 at the University of Milano-Bicocca (School of Medicine and Surgery) with the specific aim to unify different expertise and equipment in a single research team at the highest preclinical level to investigate the pathogenesis of central and peripheral nervous system diseases and to test their treatment.

The main focus was on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neurotoxicity (CIPN), but it has been subsequently extended to multiple sclerosis, innovative drug delivery methods and restorative medicine using cellular transplants. To ensure an effective translational potential toward early clinical application of the results, Prof. Guido Cavaletti, already an internationally-recognized expert with a fairly unique preclinical and clinical commitment in the field of neuroscience, was appointed as head of the ENU since its foundation.

Research topics

  • Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neurotoxicity:
    • researchers working at the ENU have originally developed most of the available animal models of CIPN (cisplatin, carboplatin, oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, docetaxel, bortezomib, epothilones, …) and effective in vitro screening models are available
    • Adult and embryonic cellular systems are used to investigate CIPN pathogenesis and to test neuroprotective drugs
    • The ENU is the leading partner of the international collaborative CI-PeriNoms study group involving more than 20 centers in Europe and the US, dedicated to the assessment of CIPN in patients undergoing neurotoxic chemotherapy
  • Multiple sclerosis:
    • At the ENU innovative treatments for multiple sclerosis are tested in the EAE model, in parallel to pathogenetic studies in vivo, ex vivo and in vitro
    • Experimental studies on possible disease biomarkers are performed in collaboration with the Neuroimmunology Center at the S. Gerardo Hospital in Monza
  • Innovative drug delivery:
    • The use of different types of nanoparticles is tested for their toxicity and effectiveness in order to improve drug delivery in cellular systems and in vivo in oncology, neuroimmunology and CIPN models
  • Restorative medicine:
    • Encapsulated pancreatic islets are tested as a therapeutic option in experimental diabetes
    • Mesenchymal stem cells are tested for their capacity to modulate the immune response in EAE and experimental diabetes and as supportive agents in transplant experimental medicine