Associazione Italiana Chimica e Tecnologia delle Ciclodestrine

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Gruppo La Rotonda

Research teams > Napoli

Group Coordinator:
Prof.ssa Maria immacolata La Rotonda
Tel: +39 081678634
Fax: +39 081678647

Fabiana Quaglia, Francesca Ungaro, Agnese Miro, Laura Mayol, Concetta Giovino

Affiliation and Address:
Dipartimento di Chimica Farmaceutica e Tossicologica
Universita' degli Studi di Napoli Federico II
Via D. Montesano 49, 80131 - NAPOLI

Curriculum Vitae
Maria Immacolata La Rotonda is professor of Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Napoli, Italy and president of the specialization course in Hospital Pharmacy. From 2003 to 2006 she was Head of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry. From 1993 to 2000, she was the president of the `Board of Pharmacy` at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Napoli. From 1993 to 1998 she was a member of the scientific board for the revision and publication of the Italian Pharmacopoeia. From 2001 to 2003 she was a member of Commissione Unica del Farmaco" (CUF). She is now a member of committee for community
affairs (mutual recognition). She is a member of the scientific board of the "Consorzio Interuniversitario di Tecnologie Farmaceutiche Innovative TEFARCO Innova" (Parma) and the "Centro Interdipartimentale sui Biomateriali (CRIB)" (University of Napoli).

Research interests
Biodegradabile microspheres for the sustained release of drugs and biotech drugs
This research concerns the design and development of biodegradabile microspheres for the sustained release of small drugs and biotech drugs to be administered by parenteral and pulmonary routes. Microspheres are prepared from poly(lactic-co-glycolic)acid derivatives which are approved for biomedical application. Depending on drug properties, different microencapsulation techniques are employed (emulsion techniques, spray-drying). Research are aimed to optimise particle features such as morphology, size, encapsulation efficiency, release profile. Formulation strategies are developed in order to maintain the structural and chemical integrity of labile drugs inside the delivery system.
Design of hydrophilic matrices for drug delivery
This research line concerns the development of novel polymeric matrices for the local and systemic controlled release of drugs. Amid innovative drug delivery systems for the oral delivery of drugs, systems based on hydrophilic polymers such as hydrogels and buccal tablets are of high interest mainly for drugs with poor pharmacokinetics (and mainly scarcely bioavailable when administered by oral or mucosal routes). Special interest is devoted to buccal, ocular and vaginal delivery systems designed to remain in contact with mucosa for prolonged periods and able to release the drug at controlled rates. Systems are designed so that they can be easily scaled-up. The delivery systems will be monolithic and based on crosslinked and/or bioadhesive biocompatible polymers. An interesting strategy to modulate the release of the drug from the polymeric system relies upon the use of cyclodextrins.
Novel liposomal systems as carrier for bioactive compounds
A part of the research aims to design new cationic liposomes for the delivery of oligonucletides. In this project, the use of new cationic lipid, together with the optimization of the formulation parameters, should improve the cellular uptake of the delivered drug. The presence of specific ligands, chemically bound or adsorbed on liposome surface, allows to target particular cells or tissues (i.e. some solid tumors). Another research project consists in designing large liposomes intended for ecophysiological studies in marine biology. Liposome ingestion by aquatic organisms could allow to study the effects of the encapsulated molecules on the physiology of different species of marine organism.
Drug/cyclodextrin systems for the delivery of lipophilic drugs
The pharmacological profile of lipophilic drug is improved by their association with different cyclodextrin derivatives. Drug/cyclodextrin complexes are prepared by different techniques (spray-drying, kneading, sealed-heating, microwaves), characterized at molecular level to understand interaction mechanisms and finally assessed in vivo on animal models. For poorly stable compounds, formulation will be optimized singling out the best conditions to preserve their chemical and physical integrity.
Polymer-based nanocarriers for the delivery of anticancer drugs
The effectiveness of a cancer therapy is directly related to the treatment ability to target and to kill cancer cells while affecting as few healthy cells as possible. If designed appropriately, nanosized carriers may act as a drug vehicle able to target tumor tissues or cells while protecting the drug from degradation. In particular, the association to the carrier is useful to optimize drug pharmacokinetics, sometimes allowing a specific delivery to the target site as a function of carrier properties, overall decreasing side effects.
Our research group is currently involved in the design, development and testing of engineered nanosized carriers for the delivery of cancer drugs. The systems are enginnered to avoid RES recognition (long-circulating carriers for passive accumulation by EPR effect) and target specific organs or cell populations (active targeting). Nanosystems can be also prepared by using tailor-made polymers developed to fit specific therapeutic needs. Nanosized carriers are prepared as nanoparticles and micelles by using synthetic and natural biocompatible polymers. Ongoing research projects are focused on developing biodegradable micelles/nanoparticles for passive and active targeting of taxanes.

Present Projects
PRIN 2005: Development of bioresorbable multicomponent polymeric systems for drug nano-delivery and tissue engineering.
Legge 5-Regione Campania: Design and development of modified-release systems for the delivery of bioactive macromolecules.
FFC grant 2007: Novel particulate systems for the delivery of an oligonucleotide decoy to Nuclear Factor-kB: a potential strategy for treating cystic fibrosis.


  • HPLC equipped with: UV-VIS, spectrofluorimeter, refractive index, photodiode array detectors
  • Laser scattering
  • Nanosizer (PCS- photon correlation spectroscopy)
  • Zetasizer
  • Spray-drier
  • Ultrasonicator
  • UV-VIS Spectrophotometer
  • Spectrofluorimeter
  • Circular Dichroism

Requested: novel biomaterials to be tested in drug delivery application, deep analytical characterization of systems already developed.
Offered: development of novel delivery systems for drugs and bioactive compounds in general.

Recent publications

  • F. Ungaro, G. De Rosa, F. Quaglia, E. Fattal, M.I. La Rotonda Controlled release of oligonucleotide/polyethyleneimine complexes from PLGA-based microspheres: the potential of spray-drying technique J. Drug Deliv. Sci. Tech. 15, 137-143, 2005
  • G. De Rosa, D. Larobina, M. I. La Rotonda, P. Musto, F. Quaglia, F. Ungaro, How cyclodextrin incorporation affects the properties of protein-loaded PLGA-based microspheres: the case of insulin/hydroxypropyl-b-cyclodextrin system J. Contr. Rel. 102, 71-83, 2005
  • G. De Rosa G, M.C. Maiuri, F. Ungaro, D. De Stefano, F. Quaglia, M.I. La Rotonda, R. Carnuccio Enhanced intracellular uptake and inhibition of NF-kappaB activation by decoy oligonucleotide released from PLGA microspheres J. Gene Med. 7, 771-781, 2005
  • F. Quaglia, L. Ostacolo, G. Nese, G. De Rosa, M. I. La Rotonda, R. Palumbo, G. Maglio Microspheres Made of Poly(epsilon-caprolactone)-Based Amphiphilic Copolymers: Potential in Sustained Delivery of Proteins Macromol. Biosci. 20, 945-954, 2005
  • I. Buttino, G. De Rosa, Y. Carotenuto, A. Ianora, A. Fontana, F. Quaglia, M.I. La Rotonda, A. Miralto Giant liposomes as delivery system for ecophysiological studies in copepods J Exp Biol. 209, 801-809, 2006
  • P. Laurienzo, M. Malinconico; G. Mattia; R. Russo, M.I. La Rotonda, F. Quaglia, D. Capitani, L. Mannina Novel alginate-acrylic polymers as a platform for drug delivery J Biomed Mater Res A. 78, 523-531,2006
  • B. Cappello, G. De Rosa, L. Giannini, M.I. La Rotonda, G. Mensitieri, A. Miro, F. Quaglia, R. Russo Cyclodextrin-containing poly(ethyleneoxide) tablets for the delivery of poorly soluble drugs: potential as buccal delivery system Int J Pharm. 319, 63-70, 2006
  • A. Miro, F. Quaglia, L. Giannini, B. Cappello, M.I. La Rotonda Drug/cyclodextrin solid systems in the design of hydrophilic matrices: a strategy to modulate drug delivery rate Curr. Drug Deliv. 3, 373-378, 2006
  • F. Ungaro, M. Biondi, I. d'Angelo, L. Indolfi, F. Quaglia, P.A. Netti, M.I. La Rotonda Microsphere-integrated collagen scaffolds for tissue engineering: effect of microsphere formulation and scaffold properties on protein release kinetics. J Control Release 113, 128-136, 2006
  • F. Ungaro, G. De Rosa, A. Miro, F. Quaglia, M.I. La Rotonda Cyclodextrins in the production of large porous particles: development of dry powders for the sustained release of insulin to the lungs. Eur J Pharm Sci. 28,423-432, 2006
  • F. Quaglia, L. Ostacolo, G. De Rosa, M.I. La Rotonda, M. Ammendola, G. Nese, G. Maglio, R. Palumbo, C. Vauthier Nanoscopic core-shell drug carriers made of amphiphilic triblock and star-diblock copolymers Int J Pharm. 324, 56-66, 2006
  • F. Ungaro, M. Biondi, l. Indolfi, G. De Rosa, M.I. La Rotonda , P. Netti, F. Quaglia Bioactivated Polymer Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering In: Topics in Tissue engineering (vol. 2), N. Ashammakhi, R.L. Rise, W. Sun Eds, 2007
  • F. Quaglia, G. Fusco, G. De Rosa, F. Ungano, A. Miro, M.I. La Rotonda Compositions for health products obtained by treatment of tomato with beta-cyclodextrin J. Incl. Phen. Macr. Chem. 57, 669-674, 2007
  • M. Biondi, F. Ungaro, F. Quaglia, P.A. Netti Controlled drug delivery in tissue engineering Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 60, 229-242, 2008
  • F. Mollica, M. Biondi, S. Muzzi, F. Ungaro, F. Quaglia, M.I. La Rotonda, P.A. Netti Mathematical modelling of the evolution of protein distribution within single PLGA microspheres: prediction of local concentration profiles and release kinetics. J Mater Sci Mater Med. 2008, in press
  • F. Quaglia, L. Ostacolo, G. Nese, M. Canciello, G. De Rosa, F. Ungaro, R. Palumbo, M.I. La Rotonda,G. Maglio Micelles Based on Amphiphilic PCL-PEO Triblock and Star-shaped Diblock Copolymers: Potential in Drug Delivery Applications J Biomed Mater Res A. 2008, in press
  • L. Ostacolo, P. Russo, G. De Rosa, M.I. La Rotonda, G. Maglio, G. Nese, G. Spagnuolo, S. Rengo, A. Oliva, F. Quaglia Microspheres made of poly(ether-ester-amide)s for protein delivery: how the modulation of copolymer composition affects some technological and biological properties Macromol. Bioscience 2008,
  • in press G. De Rosa, M.I. La Rotonda, F. Quaglia, F. Ungaro Use of additives in the design of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) microspheres for drug delivery In: Handbook of Particulate Drug Delivery, R. Kumar Ed, American Scientific Publishers, USA, 2008

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