Marco Pravetoni, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacology

Marco Pravetoni

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-625-6243

Office Address:
3-108 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Lab Address:
3-240 Nils Hasselmo Hall
312 Church St SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

PhD, University of Minnesota


Dr. Marco Pravetoni is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, MN. Dr. Pravetoni is a faculty member of the University of Minnesota Medical Discovery Team in Addiction, and the Center for Immunology. He earned a PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Minnesota in 2008 with Dr. Kevin Wickman, and completed post-doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Pentel. The Pravetoni laboratory focuses on: 1) development and translation of vaccines, monoclonal antibodies (mAb), and small molecules to counteract substance use disorders and overdose, 2) mechanisms and biomarkers underlying efficacy of immunotherapeutics in pre-clinical models and patients affected by substance use disorders, 3) novel strategies to enhance vaccine efficacy, including immunomodulators, adjuvants, nanoparticles, polymers and other platforms, and 4) vaccines, mAb, and clinical biomarkers against the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, and other emerging biological or chemical threats. His team is currently conducting a Phase I Clinical Trial of a vaccine targeting oxycodone, and IND-enabling studies of vaccines targeting heroin, its metabolites, fentanyl and its analogues. Dr. Pravetoni is co-Director of the University of Minnesota NIH T32 DA007097 “Training in PharmacoNeuroimmunology (PNI) Substance Abuse Research” and executive member of the R25 DA039074 “Summer Research Program for Diversity Students in Pharmaconeuroimmunology”, and faculty mentor in various University of Minnesota graduate and professional programs. Dr. Pravetoni sits on the Board of Directors of the College on Problems of Drug Dependence (CPDD). 

Dr. Marco Pravetoni’s laboratory focuses on the development of vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and small molecules to treat drug use disorders and reduce fatal overdoses, immunological mechanisms underlying vaccine and antibody efficacy against drugs of abuse, and rational strategies to enhance efficacy of antibody-based therapies against drugs of abuse and other targets. Our unique multidisciplinary research program integrates rational vaccine design, monoclonal antibodies, medicinal chemistry, immunomodulators, formulation/delivery platforms, pre-clinical models of opioid expsoure, PK/PD models, analysis of B and T cell lymphocyte repertoire in pre-clinical and clinical samples, GLP/GMP studies to support regulatory approval and clinical evaluation, and ad hoc industry collaborations. Our team is currently leading a Phase I clinical trial of vaccines targeting opioids. Strategies and platforms are currently applied to development of vaccines or antibodies to counteract fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, as well as other chemical threats.


Research Summary/Interests

Research in the Pravetoni laboratory focuses on the development and translation of novel therapies for drug use disorders and fatal overdose. Our NIH-funded research program focuses on vaccines and antibody-based strategies to counteract opioid use disorders, toxicity and lethality from heroin, oxycodone, fentanyl and its analogs. Our efforts cover the entire spectrum of vaccine and antibody development including discovery, early- and late-stage development, IND-supporting studies, and Phase I clinical evaluation. These strategies can extend to emerging pathogens, agents of biological or chemical warfare, and other unmet medical challenges. Because of our interest in translation and commercialization of novel therapies, our team interacts with biotech, pharma, contractors, regulators, intellectual property and marketing experts. Our group provides an engaging environment for scientists and trainees interested in entrepreneurial activities, translation, product development, and commercialization of biologics or other novel therapies.


View list of publications

Selected publications

  • Laudenbach M, Tucker AM, Runyon SP, Carroll FI, and Pravetoni M. 2015. The frequency of early-activated hapten-specific B cell subsets correlates with efficacy of vaccines for nicotine dependence. Vaccine. Nov 17;33(46):6332-9
  • Laudenbach M, Baruffaldi F, Vervacke J, Distefano M, Titcombe P, Mueller DL, Tubo NJ, Griffith TS and Pravetoni M. 2015. Frequency of the naïve and activated hapten-specific B cell populations dictates conjugate vaccine efficacy against oxycodone. J. Immunol. Jun 15;194(12):5926-36. 
  • Kotecki L, Hearing M, McCall N, Fernandez de Velasco EM, Pravetoni M, Arora D, Victoria N, Munoz M, Xia Z, Slesinger P, Weaver CD, and Wickman K. 2015. GIRK channels modulate opioid-induced motor activity in a cell type- and subunit-dependent manner". J Neurosci. May 6;35(18):7131-42.
  • M Pravetoni, PR Pentel, DN Potter, EH Chartoff, L Tally, and MG Lesage .2014. Effects of an oxycodone conjugate vaccine on oxycodone self-administration and oxycodone-induced brain gene expression in rats. PLoS One. Jul 15;9(7):e101807
  • Pravetoni M, Vervacke J, Distefano M, Tucker AM, Laundenbach M and Pentel PR. 2014. Effect of clinically-approved carriers and adjuvants on the pre-clinical efficacy of a vaccine against oxycodone in mice and rats. PLoS One. 2014 May 5;9(5):e96547.
  • Taylor JJ, Laudenbach M, Tucker AM, Jenkins MK and Pravetoni M. 2014. Naïve B cells are biomarkers of vaccine efficacy against drugs of abuse. J. Immunological Methods, Mar; 405:74-86.