MAGI” BIOTECHNOLOGY CONGRESS TO TAKE STOCK OF THE PAST 15 YEARS AND LOOK TO THE FUTURE

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article taken from biotecnologienews

The fifteenth anniversary of MAGI Group has been fundamental to take stock of the scientific results of the many researches that the reality chaired by Dr. Matteo Bertelli, a well-known geneticist, has put in the field during all these years. Among these, there is certainly the one with the European Society of Biotechnology, a leading reality of the biotech context on the continent. EBTNA, this is the initials of the body, has also recently awarded Dr. Bertelli an important Green prize for his research. More generally, it is the biotech sector that interests MAGI’s prospects for its future and for that of the collaborations set up.

Those who attended the conference had the opportunity to listen to the reflections of Professor Munis Dundar, president of the European Society of Biotechnology, and Professor Tommaso Beccari of Perugia, who has an active role at EBTNA. And also other actors of the international scientific landscape in the field of biotechnology, such as Professor Donald Martin and Professor Gary Henean.The presence of Professor Sandro Michelini, who is a true luminary in the field of lymphatic system, should also be underlined. It is worth remembering how MAGI researchers and Professor Michelini, dealing continuously with both lymphedema and lipedema, have discovered the first mutated gene, which is called AKR1C1. This “is an important moment, which has been awaited for years by the international scientific community and, above all, by the many patients who from today will face their diagnostic and therapeutic pathway with more hope”, said Professor Michelini at the time of the discovery. But the commitment is all but over, while the collaboration between MAGI and Michelini is progressing, in the field of diagnosis and treatment of genetic and rare diseases of the lymphatic system, with further steps forward and new developments.But the good news does not stop here, MAGI Group has recently renewed the collaboration with Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, the hospital founded by St. Pio of Pietralcina. A collaboration that Dr. Bertelli is very fond of.

MAGI Group, which is chaired by the well-known geneticist Matteo Bertelli, celebrated its fifteenth anniversary with a two-day event. A conference – the one dedicated to the fifteenth anniversary – which was held in the prestigious Scuola Grande di San Marco, in Venice, and which allowed many excellences of the Italian, continental and international scientific world to update themselves on the projects carried out, to share opinions and results, but above all to draw new and interesting perspectives for the future. The choice of October 4 as the final date of the event, however, was not accidental: the anniversary of St. Francis, patron saint of Italy and founder of the Franciscan Order allowed Dr. Bertelli to reiterate the role played by humility in the entire research activity of MAGI. After all, it was the professor and Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini herself, whom Bertelli met and who inspired Bertelli in his activity, who asserted that the basis of research is humility. Saint Francis, in short, as a paradigm for the scientific method: it may seem an oxymoron, but it is not at all. Because presumption – this is one of the teachings that MAGI’s patron is used to give to the many young researchers working in Trentino – can play bad tricks and does not contribute in any way to scientific progress.Beginning with the meticulous organization that chose the Scuola Grande di San Marco in Venice as the venue for the two-day event. That School has played a fundamental role both in the development of scientific thought in the broadest sense that was then exported from Venice to Israel. Specifically, the Scuola Grande di San Marco was important for the development of Anatomy, Dentistry and Physiology. Three areas on which Bertelli wanted to insist a lot, when he explained the reasons for the choice of the location.

It is therefore necessary, for the purpose of a complete narrative, to list at least some of the personalities who have succeeded among the speakers. Among those who attended the event, it is worth noting the presence of a delegation from Israel. At the fifteen-year anniversary of MAGI were present both Prof. Shmuel Pietrokovski, from the Department of Molecular Genetics of the Weizmann Institute of Science and Prof. Robert Marks, from the Department of Biotechnology Engineering of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer-Sheva, Israel, as well as a member of the International Bioethical Study Group.

MAGI Group has also started collaborations with many Italian personalities who have already been able to bring innovative results of great importance: Prof. Sandro Michelini, former President of the Italian Society of Lymphology, with whom MAGI has been able to make great strides in the field of Lymphedema and Lipedema, arriving, in addition to the identification of the gene responsible in the second case, to prepare targeted therapies. Benedetto Falsini, from Gemelli University in Rome, with whom MAGI has focused on genetic diseases of the eye that depend on the retina, achieving diagnostic results and clinical trials that have merited the attention of the scientific community; and Prof. Pietro Chiurazzi, also from Gemelli University in Rome, with whom MAGI has done important work on the relationship between obesity and anorexia and genetic factors.

But it is also worth noting the presence of Prof. Tommaso Beccari of the University of Perugia, who is active in research to understand if and what interactions exist between genetics and obesity or anorexia. “The discovery of a genetic component underlying DCA makes us look at the disease from a different perspective. The ultimate goal could be to develop more effective treatments that to date virtually do not exist for patients with anorexia,” Beccari noted during his research. The road is still long, but in Perugia has been built a real database that could prove decisive in investigating possible links between eating disorders and genetic predisposition. This, as you can easily understand, would be a turning point.

Not to be overlooked, the report held by Rabbi Mykhaylo Kapustin, one of the rabbis of Bratislava. The highest religious authority gave a lesson as complex as it was prestigious: the main theme of the speech was that of “good” and “bad”. A theme chosen because of the constitution of a Bioethics Committee within MAGI. A body that will also have the task of defining the boundaries of scientific investigation. The contemporary world, in fact, has opened complex scenarios, which deserve to be analyzed even from a bioethical point of view. How far can science go? This is the question that is likely to accompany the debate in the coming decades. And MAGI wanted to create an ad hoc committee that could deal with these questions closely, with the contribution of scientists, of course, but also of humanists. Rabbi Mykhayko Kapustin, who is one of the main scholars of the thought of Moses Sofer, a rabbi who lived between 1700 and 1800, known for his Chatam Sofer and died in Bratislava, where there is the tomb of this central figure of Judaism. Sofer is known for having opposed the introduction of the “new” in the field of principles that are also the basis of ethical thought and therefore for the affirmation of doctrinal orthodoxy. In short, MAGI Group wanted the Bioethics Committee to be chaired by a very prestigious scholar.

MAGI Group’s objective is to look to the future. The Ministry of Health has been clear about the omics sciences, even in light of the challenges that the health system is facing, not only with Covid-19, and that it may have to face in the near future. Biotechnology and genetics, after all, have already played a decisive role, during the pandemic, both in terms of diagnosis and with respect to the contribution provided for the development of vaccines. In the wake of this direction, MAGI has intended to prepare for the world to come, with the best possible tools.

A curiosity: as soon as the two-day event was over, Venice was flooded by high water, as had been predicted, also due to the failure of the MOSE. A very rare meteorological phenomenon, that of the flood, which was already known in ancient times. A spectre that accompanied the congress but which took place only when the works were already finished. Bertelli’s thoughts immediately went to Manzoni’s liberating rain.