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
  • Protein misfolding disorders
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Protein aggregation
  • Mitochondria
  • Lipid membranes
  • Drug discovery

MARTINEZ HERNANDEZ, A., URBANKE, H., GILLMAN, A.L., LEE, J., RYAZANOV, S., AGBEMENYAH, H.Y., BENITO, E., JAIN, G., KAURANI, L., GRIGORIAN, G., LEONOV, A., REZAEI-GHALEH, N., WILKEN, P., ARCE, F.T., WAGNER, J., FUHRMANN, M., CARUANA, M., CAMILLERI, A., VASSALLO, N., ZWECKSTETTER, M., BENZ, R., GIESE, A., SCHNEIDER, A., KORTE, M., LAL, R., GRIESINGER, C., EICHELE, G. and FISCHER, A., 2018. The diphenylpyrazole compound anle138b blocks Abeta channels and rescues disease phenotypes in a mouse model for amyloid pathology. EMBO molecular medicine, 10(1), pp. 32-47.

BRIFFA, M., GHIO, S., NEUNER, J., GAUCI, A.J., CACCIOTTOLO, R., MARCHAL, C., CARUANA, M., CULLIN, C., VASSALLO, N. and CAUCHI, R.J., 2017. Extracts from two ubiquitous Mediterranean plants ameliorate cellular and animal models of neurodegenerative proteinopathies. Neuroscience letters, 638, pp. 12-20.

CARUANA, M., CAUCHI, R. and VASSALLO, N., 2016. Putative Role of Red Wine Polyphenols against Brain Pathology in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Frontiers in nutrition, 3, pp. 31.

GHIO, S., KAMP, F., CAUCHI, R., GIESE, A. and VASSALLO, N., 2016. Interaction of alpha-synuclein with biomembranes in Parkinson's disease--role of cardiolipin. Progress in lipid research, 61, pp. 73-82.

CAMILLERI, A. and VASSALLO, N., 2014. The centrality of mitochondria in the pathogenesis and treatment of Parkinson's disease. CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 20(7), pp. 591-602.

CAMILLERI, A., ZARB, C., CARUANA, M., OSTERMEIER, U., GHIO, S., HOGEN, T., SCHMIDT, F., GIESE, A. and VASSALLO, N., 2013. Mitochondrial membrane permeabilisation by amyloid aggregates and protection by polyphenols. Biochimica et biophysica acta, .

CARUANA, M., NEUNER, J., HOGEN, T., SCHMIDT, F., KAMP, F., SCERRI, C., GIESE, A. and VASSALLO, N., 2012. Polyphenolic compounds are novel protective agents against lipid membrane damage by alpha-synuclein aggregates in vitro. Biochimica et biophysica acta, 1818(11), pp. 2502-2510.

HOGEN, T., LEVIN, J., SCHMIDT, F., CARUANA, M., VASSALLO, N., KRETZSCHMAR, H., BOTZEL, K., KAMP, F. and GIESE, A., 2012. Two different binding modes of alpha-synuclein to lipid vesicles depending on its aggregation state. Biophysical journal, 102(7), pp. 1646-1655.

CARUANA, M., HOGEN, T., LEVIN, J., HILLMER, A., GIESE, A. and VASSALLO, N., 2011. Inhibition and disaggregation of alpha-synuclein oligomers by natural polyphenolic compounds. FEBS letters, 585(8), pp. 1113-1120.

GAUCI, A.J., CARUANA, M., GIESE, A., SCERRI, C. and 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, 27(4), pp. 767-779.

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:
- Centre for Neuropathology and Prion Research, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany.
- Deutsches Zentrum fur Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen (DZNE), Munich, Germany
- Research Centre on the Molecular Basis of Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Florence, Italy.

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