Marco Orecchioni, PhD

Assistant Professor

Marco Orecchioni discovered a new class of immune receptors called olfactory receptors – and determined how they might trigger inflammation in atherosclerosis.

Also called “smell receptors,” olfactory receptors are present in the nose this was known. But Orecchioni showed that macrophages also have them in fact, they could be activated by olfactory receptors in response to diet-related chemicals the body produces.

Targeting olfactory receptors with drugs can either boost or inhibit their functioning, which could help prevent and treat disease. Orecchioni is exploring how to do this by studying which olfactory receptors change during high-fat food consumption and disease progression and the effect this then has on immune cells.

The aim is to figure out how and which olfactory receptors are activated and uncover pathways involved in the initiation of inflammation in atherosclerosis and possibly other metabolic diseases, which would be the basis for a clinical trial on a drug that would block the pro-inflammatory effect of the macrophages.


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