Structures & laboratories

UNIFI UCP

PeptLab was born to answer a large unmet need: a pan-European infrastructure of Laboratories of Peptide & Protein Chemistry & Biology (pdf document, submitted on October 22, 2012: Call for suggestions of topics for future integrating activities, Framework Programme for Research & Innovation, Horizon 2020) coordinating and integrating competences and, most importantly, access to facilities finalized to support peptide-based research projects and training for life and material sciences both at the academic and industrial level.

As a proof-of-concept we started organising two Research Units:

The embryon of this infrastructure is characterized by a strong know-how in organic and medicinal chemistry, in chemical biology, in synthesis as well as purification of small biomolecules, peptides, proteins and molecular and biological characterization.

The two Research Units are joined by a formal agreement signed by the Rector of the University of Florence and the President of the University of Cergy-Pontoise in 2009 allowing the researchers to have access to high-technology instrumentation with specialized staff that is able, thanks to a synergistic work, to produce molecules of interest for life sciences in the context of multidisciplinary projects from bench to bedside in the context of cooperations with clinicians.

This was made possible thanks to the Chaire d'Excellence awarded to Prof. Anna Maria Papini with financial support from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche of the French Ministry of Education and Research (2009-2013) for the project PepKit: Development of peptide-based kits for autoimmune diseases.

Indeed our scientific team is leader in the field of life science. In particular, the design, synthesis, purification, and characterization of peptides (also from natural sources) and their analogues of biomedical interest for more than 15 years, and has been instrumental in the development of new peptide synthetic approaches with real-world medical importance [e.g. the development of synthetic post-translationally modified peptides (i.e, glycopeptides, citrullinated peptides, etc.) able to detect specific autoantibodies in sera of patients affected by autoimmune diseases (multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid, arthritis, etc.).

Moreover the infrastructure is partner of spin-off companies, i.e. Espikem (started in 2003), a Contract Research Organization (CRO) which has validated its initial business model by delivering non-GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices) produced peptides to over 75 academic and industry customers, and Toscana Biomarkers, a start-up company fouded in 2007, involved in R&D of innovative diagnostics of autoimmune diseases.