Prof. Neville Vassallo

Prof. Neville Vassallo

Prof. Neville Vassallo


Associate Professor

Room 315
3rd Floor
Centre for Molecular Medicine & Biobank
University of Malta
  +356 2340 3294
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Medicinal Chemistry
  • Neurochemistry
  • Mitochondria

Caruana, M., Neuner, J., Hogen, T., Schmidt, F., Kamp, F., Scerri, C., Giese, A. & Vassallo, N. 2012, "Polyphenolic compounds are novel protective agents against lipid membrane damage by alpha-synuclein aggregates in vitro", Biochimica et biophysica acta, vol. 1818, no. 11, pp. 2502-2510.

Hogen, T., Levin, J., Schmidt, F., Caruana, M., Vassallo, N., Kretzschmar, H., Botzel, K., Kamp, F. & Giese, A. 2012, "Two different binding modes of alpha-synuclein to lipid vesicles depending on its aggregation state", Biophysical journal, vol. 102, no. 7, pp. 1646-1655.

Caruana, M., Hogen, T., Levin, J., Hillmer, A., Giese, A. & Vassallo, N. 2011, "Inhibition and disaggregation of alpha-synuclein oligomers by natural polyphenolic compounds", FEBS letters, vol. 585, no. 8, pp. 1113-1120.

Gauci, A.J., Caruana, M., Giese, A., Scerri, C. & Vassallo, N. 2011, "Identification of polyphenolic compounds and black tea extract as potent inhibitors of lipid membrane destabilization by Abeta(4)(2) aggregates", Journal of Alzheimer's disease : JAD, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 767-779.

Huls, S., Hogen, T., Vassallo, N., Danzer, K.M., Hengerer, B., Giese, A. & Herms, J. 2011, "AMPA-receptor-mediated excitatory synaptic transmission is enhanced by iron-induced alpha-synuclein oligomers", Journal of neurochemistry, vol. 117, no. 5, pp. 868-878.

Priller, C., Dewachter, I., Vassallo, N., Paluch, S., Pace, C., Kretzschmar, H.A., Van Leuven, F. & Herms, J. 2007, "Mutant presenilin 1 alters synaptic transmission in cultured hippocampal neurons", The Journal of biological chemistry, vol. 282, no. 2, pp. 1119-1127.

Vassallo, N., Herms, J., Behrens, C., Krebs, B., Saeki, K., Onodera, T., Windl, O. & Kretzschmar, H.A. 2005, "Activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase by cellular prion protein and its role in cell survival", Biochemical and biophysical research communications, vol. 332, no. 1, pp. 75-82.

Korte, S., Vassallo, N., Kramer, M.L., Kretzschmar, H.A. & Herms, J. 2003, "Modulation of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels by recombinant prion protein", Journal of neurochemistry, vol. 87, no. 4, pp. 1037-1042.

Vassallo, N. & Herms, J. 2003, "Cellular prion protein function in copper homeostasis and redox signalling at the synapse", Journal of neurochemistry, vol. 86, no. 3, pp. 538-544.

Research Focus:
- Amyloidogenic diseases are characterized by misfolding, aggregation and accumulation of proteins inside or outside cells
(also termed plaques). Amyloidogenic proteins initiate a cascade of deleterious pathophysiological sequelae that eventually
culminate in cellular death. Increasing evidence indicates that the self-assembly of proteins is often associated with the
molecular events leading to neuronal death in a range of neurodegenerative diseases,including Alzheimer’s disease and
Parkinson’s disease. My research aims to use robust molecular screens to identify novel small-molecule inhibitors, including
bioactive compounds from terrestrial and marine plants, that would be able to prevent amyloid aggregates from permeabilizing
biomembranes. We are currently studying amyloid-beta peptide and alpha-synuclein, but hope to include other amyloid
proteins in the future. With the help of our collaborators, we have used fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, liposome assays
and electrophysiological methods, among others. We also use the structural diversity of natural compounds to establish
structure-activity relationships for small-molecule inhibitors. In this regard, in the future we are interested in introducing
computational molecular modeling techniques to assist in drug discovery.

International Collaborators:
- Zentrum für Neuropathologie und Prionforschung, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, München, Germany.
- Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e.V. München, Germany
- Department of Biophysics, University of Osnabrück, Germany

Professional Affiliations:
- Member of the American Physiological Society
- Member of the American Chemical Society
- Member of the European Society for Neurochemistry