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Dr. Andrea Banfi


Dr. Andrea Banfi
Cell and Gene Therapy
Department of Biomedicine, Basel University Hospital
Hebelstrasse 20
CH-4031 Basel / Switzerland

Phone +41 61 265 35 07
Fax +41 61 261 39 90

Andrea Banfi directs the Cell and Gene Therapy group at Basel University Hospital, in the Departments of Biomedicine and of Surgery. His research focus is the understanding of the basic principles governing the growth of blood vessels and translating this knowledge into the development of novel therapies for: 1) ischemic diseases, such as myocardial infarction and peripheral ischemia; and 2) controlled vascularization in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. The goal is to restore the blood supply in ischemic tissue, or to ensure the induction of a functional vascular network in tissue engineered constructs, by the delivery of growth factors that control the formation of new blood vessels. This is achieved by genetically engineering suitable progenitors to express controlled levels and combinations of angiogenic factors. This approach has the potential to provide both angiogenic stimulation and tissue regeneration, combining the specific advantages of cell therapy and gene therapy. We are developing novel methods to deliver the Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor gene alone or in combination with maturation factors, in order to increase safety and expand its therapeutic window in vivo. We are further applying these methods to mesenchymal progenitors to achieve bone and cardiac regeneration.
The Cell and Gene Therapy group has several collaborations in Basel, as well as nationally and internationally, such as at EPFL in Lausanne, and at Columbia University in New York. It is also part of 3 European Consortia working on the control of angiogenesis in regenerative medicine: ANGIOSCAFF (, Disc Regeneration ( and MAGISTER (

Recent publications related to stem cells

  • Misteli H, Wolff T, Füglistaler P, Gianni-Barrera R, Gürke L, Heberer M. and Banfi A. (2010). High-throughput flow cytometry purification of transduced progenitors expressing defined levels of vascular endothelial growth factor induces controlled angiogenesis in vivo. Stem Cells 28:611-619.
  • Helmrich U, Marsano A, Melly L, Wolff T, Christ L, Heberer M, Scherberich A, Martin I. and Banfi A. (2012). Generation of human adult mesenchymal stromal/stem cells expressing defined xenogenic vascular endothelial growth factor levels by optimized transduction and flow cytometry purification. Tissue Eng Part C Methods 18:283-92.
  • Banfi A, von Degenfeld G, Gianni-Barrera R, Reginato S, Merchant MJ, McDonald DM and Blau HM. (2012). Therapeutic angiogenesis due to balanced single-vector delivery of VEGF and PDGF-BB. FASEB J. 26:2486-97.
  • Gianni-Barrera R, Trani M, Fontanellaz C, Heberer M, Djonov V, Hlushchuk R, Banfi A. (2013). VEGF over-expression in skeletal muscle induces angiogenesis by intussusception rather than sprouting. Angiogenesis 16:123-36.
  • Melly LF, Marsano A, Frobert A, Boccardo S, Helmrich U, Heberer M, Eckstein FS, Carrel TP, Giraud MN, Tevaearai HT, Banfi A. (2012). Controlled angiogenesis in the heart by cell-based expression of specific vascular endothelial growth factor levels. Hum Gene Ther Methods 23:346-56.
  • Helmrich U, Di Maggio N, Güven S, Groppa E, Melly L, Largo RD, Heberer M, Martin I, Scherberich A, Banfi A. (2013). Osteogenic graft vascularization and bone resorption by VEGF-expressing human mesenchymal progenitors. Biomaterials 34:5025-35.
  • Mujagic E, Gianni-Barrera R, Trani M, Patel A, Gürke L, Heberer M, Wolff T, Banfi A. (2013). Induction of aberrant vascular growth, but not of normal angiogenesis, by cell-based expression of different doses of human and mouse VEGF is species-dependent. Hum Gene Ther Methods 24:28-37.
  • Sacchi V, Mittermayr R, Hartinger J, Martino MM, Lorentz KM, Wolbank S, Hofmann A, Largo RA, Marschall JS, Groppa E, Gianni-Barrera R, Ehrbar M, Hubbell JA, Redl H, Banfi A. (2014). Long-lasting fibrin matrices ensure stable and functional angiogenesis by highly tunable, sustained delivery of recombinant VEGF164. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:6952-7.
  • Groppa E, Brkic S, Bovo E, Reginato S, Sacchi V, Di Maggio N, Muraro MG, Calabrese D, Heberer M, Gianni-Barrera R, Banfi A. (2015). VEGF dose regulates vascular stabilization through Semaphorin3A and the Neuropilin-1+ monocyte/TGF-β1 paracrine axis. EMBO Mol Med. 7:1366-84
  • Gianni-Barrera R, Burger M, Wolff T, Heberer M, Schaefer DJ, Gürke L, Mujagic E, Banfi A. (2016). Long-term safety and stability of angiogenesis induced by balanced single-vector co-expression of PDGF-BB and VEGF164 in skeletal muscle. Sci Rep. 6:21546.
  • Maggio ND, Martella E, Meikle S, Columbaro M, Lucarelli E, Santin M, Banfi A. (2016). Rapid and efficient magnetization of mesenchymal stem cells by dendrimer-functionalized magnetic nanoparticles. Nanomedicine (Lond). 11:1519-34.


  • Gianni-Barrera R, Trani M, Reginato S. and Banfi A. (2011). To sprout or to split? VEGF, Notch and vascular morphogenesis. Biochem Soc Trans. 39:1644-8.
  • Reginato S, Gianni-Barrera R. and Banfi A. (2011). Taming of the wild vessel: promoting vessel stabilization for safe therapeutic angiogenesis. Biochem Soc Trans. 39:1654-8.
  • Gianni-Barrera R, Bartolomeo M, Vollmar B, Djonov V, Banfi A. (2014). Split for the cure: VEGF, PDGF-BB and intussusception in therapeutic angiogenesis. Biochem Soc Trans. 42:1637-42.
  • Martino MM, Brkic S, Bovo E, Burger M, Schaefer DJ, Wolff T, Gürke L, Briquez PS, Larsson HM, Gianni-Barrera R, Hubbell JA, Banfi A. (2015). Extracellular matrix and growth factor engineering for controlled angiogenesis in regenerative medicine. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 1;3:45.
  • Banfi A, Gianni-Barrera R. (2015). VEGF, shear stress and muscle angiogenesis: a complicated triangle. Acta Physiol (Oxf). 214:298-9.