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Maria Maiaru

Maria Maiaru

Areas of interest

My research focusses on pain mechanisms and the generation of new tools and drugs that could ameliorate persistent pain states. In particular, the aims of my research are:

  1. To uncover new signalling pathways involved in chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) and provide new targets for its treatment. My hypothesis is that dysfunction of autophagic mechanisms in peripheral and central nervous system leads to CIPN. Autophagy is a physiological process essential for a correct cellular homeostasis. Under normal conditions, autophagy is maintained at a basal level. However, following stress exposure such as in disease state, the autophagic pathway is rapidly activated. A dysfunction of autophagic process is thought to be deleterious affecting cell survival and indeed an increasing number of pathologies are linked to autophagy dysregulation. The key to successful autophagy-targeted therapeutic interventions is a thorough biological understanding of the relationship between autophagy and CIPN.
  2. To investigate the long-term consequence of silencing pain-pathways using novel Botulinum constructs. Despite important progress in our understanding of pain mechanism, chronic pain has remained an area of unmet medical need. Our approach involves the use of new Botulinum constructs that target specific pain signalling neurons within the spinal cord. This research has the potential to lead to new treatments for neuropathic pain, but potentially it could also improve other forms of chronic pain, such as inflammatory pain or chemotherapy-induced pain.

Research centres and groups


  • Prof S Hunt (University College London, UK)
  • Prof B Davletov (University of Sheffield, UK)
  • Prof F Cecconi (University of Tor Vergata, Italy)