Michele de Luca
Professor De Luca, and his principal collaborator Graziella Pellegrini, have been involved in epithelial stem cell biology aimed at clinical application in regenerative medicine for over 20 years. Beside his work on the use of human epidermal stem cell cultures in life-saving treatment of massive full-thickness burns and in repigmentation of stable vitiligo and piebaldism, he established human limbal stem cell culture aimed at corneal regeneration in patients with severe limbal stem cell deficiency. This treatment leads to recovery of vision in patients with poor alternative options for therapy. Michele De Luca is currently coordinating the first (successful) ex-vivo epithelial stem cell-mediated gene therapy clinical trial for the gene therapy of junctional epidermolysis bullosa, a serious genetic skin disease. He is also studying molecular mechanisms regulating self-renewal, proliferative potential and clonal evolution of epithelial stem cells.