The development of multi-target-directed ligands (MTDLs) is a polypharmacological strategy that is emerging as a successful option for the development of potential drug candidates for neurodegenerative diseases. Neurodegeneration is a complex and multifactorial process that involves various, interconnected molecular pathways that lead to progressive and irreversible deterioration in CNS functions. Therefore, our goal is to design and synthesize MTDLs able to modulate simultaneously different targets involved in neurodegeneration onset and progression.

In particular, in the neurodegenerative field, our aim is to design and develop MTDLs to treat Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). AD is, to date, the major cause of dementia worldwide and the number of affected patients is expected to increase by 2050. Currently, on the market, there are only palliative drugs. Notwithstanding massive investments in basic and translational research by government and non-profit organizations worldwide, pharmaceutical companies continue to view AD drug discovery as an extremely risky area. For this reason, it is an imperative responsibility of the academic sector to ensure basic research in this field in order to contribute to finding an effective cure against AD and better address this unmet medical need.


Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a heterogeneous group of highly debilitating infections (i.e. Leishmaniasis, African trypanosomiasis, Chagas Disease)  that affect mainly the tropical and subtropical areas. These diseases can be caused by bacteria, viruses, helminth, and protozoa. The most affected communities are the ones living in poor conditions because of the restricted access to basic sanitation, the proximity to animals and livestock and thus to vectors of these infective diseases. However, following changing climate conditions and migratory flows, Leishmaniasis is today an emerging disease also in many countries in the Mediterranean basin. Toxicity and development of resistance are critical issues of current treatments (i.e. amphotericin B and miltefosin).

The multi-target approach can be a successful tool when applied to NTDs because these drugs are generally safer and more efficient, thanks to the synergism on different targets. Moreover, the development of bifunctional molecules could also be a possible approach to deal with the emergency of new resistant strains and important side effects.


The research and development of new potential drug candidates require huge expenses and efforts which are eventually mirrored in the final price of the drugs on the market. Access to medicines, including availability and affordability is a major global public health threat for all the therapeutic areas. It is a matter of special concern for those diseases affecting low-income populations (i.e. poverty-related disease as NTD) but also for Alzheimer’s Disease, which is expected to affect large populations in the developing countries. Through a Sustainable Drug Discovery approach, we aim to develop potential treatments that are affordable and globally accessible. In this context, an enlightening possibility is represented by the valorization of food byproduct material, such as the cashew-nutshell liquid (CNSL). CNSL components (i.e. anacardic acid, cardanol, cardol) are bioactive phenolic compounds with a linear chain of different unsaturation degrees. Thanks to their peculiar amphiphilic structure and their innate biological activities, CNSL components are particularly versatile for the functionalization and the design of MTDLs for diverse diseases.

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+39 051 20 9 9717

Prof. Bolognesi's OFFICE

+39 051 20 9 9718

+39 051 20 9 9734

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