Via Francesco Chiesa 5
6500 Bellinzona, Switzerland
Luca Varani graduated in chemistry at the University of Milan (Italy) and obtained a PhD degree at the prestigious MRC-Laboratory of Molecular Biology (University of Cambridge, UK) using molecular and structural biology to study RNA-protein interactions. He contributed to show the key role played by RNA in regulation of gene expression and how RNA itself can be a valid therapeutic target against dementia. His numerous high caliber publications, culminated in the determination of the largest NMR structure available at the time, allowed him to move to Stanford with a “long term EMBO fellowship”, reserved to the best young molecular biologists in Europe. In California Luca Varani completed the first magnetic resonance study on TCR/pMHC, key proteins of the immune system.
Since October 2007 he leads the Structural Biology group of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (Bellinzona CH). The group strives to understand the molecular properties allowing a given antibody to eliminate a pathogen, using this information to select and engineer new antibodies. A highly multidisciplinary approach merges molecular and cellular biology, biophysics and computational simulations aimed at determining the structure and function of antibody-antigen complexes. Studies involve mainly rare and neglected diseases such as Dengue or Zika virus, Prion or rare form of Leukemias and, more recently, COVID-19.
Last authorship for design and characterization of bispecific antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, Zika and Prion, highly cited work describing the role of target affinity modulation in Chimeric Antigen Receptors and identifying the molecular events triggering prion neurodegeneration. High impact collaborative work to determine the antibody response to infection in Dengue, Zika, Malaria, SARS-CoV-2 and characterization of neutralizing antibodies in MERS.
Reviewer for high impact scientific journals (including Nature and Cell) and granting agencies; evaluator for EC start-up accelerator programs.
Founder of CLBiotech (2022), a start-up focused on nanobody engineering.