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by Keyword: 3D


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Horteläo, Ana C., Carrascosa, Rafael, Murillo-Cremaes, Nerea, Patiño, Tania, Sánchez, Samuel, (2019). Targeting 3D bladder cancer spheroids with urease-powered nanomotors ACS Nano Article ASAP

Cancer is one of the main causes of death around the world, lacking efficient clinical treatments that generally present severe side effects. In recent years, various nanosystems have been explored to specifically target tumor tissues, enhancing the efficacy of cancer treatment and minimizing the side effects. In particular, bladder cancer is the ninth most common cancer worldwide and presents a high survival rate but serious recurrence levels, demanding an improvement in the existent therapies. Here, we present urease-powered nanomotors based on mesoporous silica nanoparticles that contain both polyethylene glycol and anti-FGFR3 antibody on their outer surface to target bladder cancer cells in the form of 3D spheroids. The autonomous motion is promoted by urea, which acts as fuel and is inherently present at high concentrations in the bladder. Antibody-modified nanomotors were able to swim in both simulated and real urine, showing a substrate-dependent enhanced diffusion. The internalization efficiency of the antibody-modified nanomotors into the spheroids in the presence of urea was significantly higher compared with antibody-modified passive particles or bare nanomotors. Furthermore, targeted nanomotors resulted in a higher suppression of spheroid proliferation compared with bare nanomotors, which could arise from the local ammonia production and the therapeutic effect of anti-FGFR3. These results hold significant potential for the development of improved targeted cancer therapy and diagnostics using biocompatible nanomotors.

Keywords: 3D cell culture, Bladder cancer, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanomachines, Nanomotors, Self-propulsion, Targeting


Badiola-Mateos, M., Hervera, A., del Río, J. A., Samitier, J., (2018). Challenges and future prospects on 3D in-vitro modeling of the neuromuscular circuit Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 194

Movement of skeletal-muscle fibers is generated by the coordinated action of several cells taking part within the locomotion circuit (motoneurons, sensory-neurons, Schwann cells, astrocytes, microglia, and muscle-cells). Failures in any part of this circuit could impede or hinder coordinated muscle movement and cause a neuromuscular disease (NMD) or determine its severity. Studying fragments of the circuit cannot provide a comprehensive and complete view of the pathological process. We trace the historic developments of studies focused on in-vitro modeling of the spinal-locomotion circuit and how bioengineered innovative technologies show advantages for an accurate mimicking of physiological conditions of spinal-locomotion circuit. New developments on compartmentalized microfluidic culture systems (cμFCS), the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and 3D cell-cultures are analyzed. We finally address limitations of current study models and three main challenges on neuromuscular studies: (i) mimic the whole spinal-locomotion circuit including all cell-types involved and the evaluation of independent and interdependent roles of each one; (ii) mimic the neurodegenerative response of mature neurons in-vitro as it occurs in-vivo; and (iii) develop, tune, implement, and combine cμFCS, hiPSC, and 3D-culture technologies to ultimately create patient-specific complete, translational, and reliable NMD in-vitro model. Overcoming these challenges would significantly facilitate understanding the events taking place in NMDs and accelerate the process of finding new therapies.

Keywords: 3D-culture, Compartmentalized microfluidic culture systems (cμFCS), HiPSC, In-vitro models, Neuromuscular circuit


Torras, N., García-Díaz, M., Fernández-Majada, V., Martínez, E., (2018). Mimicking epithelial tissues in three-dimensional cell culture models Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 197

Epithelial tissues are composed of layers of tightly connected cells shaped into complex three-dimensional (3D) structures such as cysts, tubules, or invaginations. These complex 3D structures are important for organ-specific functions and often create biochemical gradients that guide cell positioning and compartmentalization within the organ. One of the main functions of epithelia is to act as physical barriers that protect the underlying tissues from external insults. In vitro, epithelial barriers are usually mimicked by oversimplified models based on cell lines grown as monolayers on flat surfaces. While useful to answer certain questions, these models cannot fully capture the in vivo organ physiology and often yield poor predictions. In order to progress further in basic and translational research, disease modeling, drug discovery, and regenerative medicine, it is essential to advance the development of new in vitro predictive models of epithelial tissues that are capable of representing the in vivo-like structures and organ functionality more accurately. Here, we review current strategies for obtaining biomimetic systems in the form of advanced in vitro models that allow for more reliable and safer preclinical tests. The current state of the art and potential applications of self-organized cell-based systems, organ-on-a-chip devices that incorporate sensors and monitoring capabilities, as well as microfabrication techniques including bioprinting and photolithography, are discussed. These techniques could be combined to help provide highly predictive drug tests for patient-specific conditions in the near future.

Keywords: 3D cell culture models, Biofabrication, Disease modeling, Drug screening, Epithelial barriers, Microengineered tissues, Organ-on-a-chip, Organoids


Casanellas, Ignasi, García-Lizarribar, Andrea, Lagunas, Anna, Samitier, Josep, (2018). Producing 3D biomimetic nanomaterials for musculoskeletal system regeneration Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 6, Article 128

The human musculoskeletal system is comprised mainly of connective tissues such as cartilage, tendon, ligaments, skeletal muscle and skeletal bone. These tissues support the structure of the body, hold and protect the organs, and are responsible of movement. Since it is subjected to continuous strain, the musculoskeletal system is prone to injury by excessive loading forces or aging, whereas currently available treatments are usually invasive and not always effective. Most of the musculoskeletal injuries require surgical intervention facing a limited post-surgery tissue regeneration, especially for widespread lesions. Therefore, many tissue engineering approaches have been developed tackling musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Materials are designed to meet the chemical and mechanical requirements of the native tissue three-dimensional (3D) environment, thus facilitating implant integration while providing a good reabsorption rate. With biological systems operating at the nanoscale, nanoengineered materials have been developed to support and promote regeneration at the interprotein communication level. Such materials call for a great precision and architectural control in the production process fostering the development of new fabrication techniques. In this mini review, we would like to summarize the most recent advances in 3D nanoengineered biomaterials for musculoskeletal tissue regeneration, with especial emphasis on the different techniques used to produce them.

Keywords: Nanofiber, 3D printing, Musculoskeletal, Regeneration, Scaffold, Tissue Engineering, Stimuli-responsive


Raymond, Santiago, Maazouz, Yassine, Montufar, Edgar B., Perez, Roman A., González, Borja, Konka, Joanna, Kaiser, Jozef, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Accelerated hardening of nanotextured 3D-plotted self-setting calcium phosphate inks Acta Biomaterialia 75, 451-462

Direct ink writing (DIW) techniques open up new possibilities for the fabrication of patient-specific bone grafts. Self-setting calcium phosphate inks, which harden at low temperature, allow obtaining nanostructured scaffolds with biomimetic properties and enhanced bioactivity. However, the slow hardening kinetics hampers the translation to the clinics. Different hydrothermal treatments for the consolidation of DIW scaffolds fabricated with an α-tricalcium phosphate /pluronic F127 ink were explored, comparing them with a biomimetic treatment. Three different scaffold architectures were analysed. The hardening process, associated to the conversion of α-tricalcium phosphate to hydroxyapatite was drastically accelerated by the hydrothermal treatments, reducing the time for complete reaction from 7 days to 30 minutes, while preserving the scaffold architectural integrity and retaining the nanostructured features. β-tricalcium phosphate was formed as a secondary phase, and a change of morphology from plate-like to needle-like crystals in the hydroxyapatite phase was observed. The binder was largely released during the treatment. The hydrothermal treatment resulted in a 30% reduction of the compressive strength, associated to the residual presence of β-tricalcium phosphate. Biomimetic and hydrothermally treated scaffolds supported the adhesion and proliferation of rat mesenchymal stem cells, indicating a good suitability for bone tissue engineering applications. Statement of Significance: 3D plotting has opened up new perspectives in the bone regeneration field allowing the customisation of synthetic bone grafts able to fit patient-specific bone defects. Moreover, this technique allows the control of the scaffolds’ architecture and porosity. The present work introduces a new method to harden biomimetic hydroxyapatite 3D-plotted scaffolds which avoids high-temperature sintering. It has two main advantages: i) it is fast and simple, reducing the whole fabrication process from the several days required for the biomimetic processing to a few hours; and ii) it retains the nanostructured character of biomimetic hydroxyapatite and allows controlling the porosity from the nano- to the macroscale. Moreover, the good in vitro cytocompatibility results support its suitability for cell-based bone regeneration therapies.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, Biomimetic, Bone regeneration, 3D plotting, Direct ink writing, Bone graft


Barba, Albert, Maazouz, Yassine, Diez-Escudero, Anna, Rappe, Katrin, Espanol, Montserrat, Montufar, Edgar B., Öhman-Mägi, Caroline, Persson, Cecilia, Fontecha, Pedro, Manzanares, Maria-Cristina, Franch, Jordi, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2018). Osteogenesis by foamed and 3D-printed nanostructured calcium phosphate scaffolds: Effect of pore architecture Acta Biomaterialia 79, 135-147

There is an urgent need of synthetic bone grafts with enhanced osteogenic capacity. This can be achieved by combining biomaterials with exogenous growth factors, which however can have numerous undesired side effects, but also by tuning the intrinsic biomaterial properties. In a previous study, we showed the synergistic effect of nanostructure and pore architecture of biomimetic calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds in enhancing osteoinduction, i.e. fostering the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to bone forming cells. This was demonstrated by assessing bone formation after implanting the scaffolds intramuscularly. The present study goes one step forward, since it analyzes the effect of the geometrical features of the same CDHA scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or by foaming, on the osteogenic potential and resorption behaviour in a bony environment. After 6 and 12 weeks of intraosseous implantation, both bone formation and material degradation had been drastically affected by the macropore architecture of the scaffolds. Whereas nanostructured CDHA was shown to be highly osteoconductive both in the robocast and foamed scaffolds, a superior osteogenic capacity was observed in the foamed scaffolds, which was associated with their higher intrinsic osteoinductive potential. Moreover, they showed a significantly higher cell-mediated degradation than the robocast constructs, with a simultaneous and progressive replacement of the scaffold by new bone. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that the control of macropore architecture is a crucial parameter in the design of synthetic bone grafts, which allows fostering both material degradation and new bone formation. Statement of Significance: 3D-printing technologies open new perspectives for the design of patient-specific bone grafts, since they allow customizing the external shape together with the internal architecture of implants. In this respect, it is important to design the appropriate pore geometry to maximize the bone healing capacity of these implants. The present study analyses the effect of pore architecture of nanostructured hydroxyapatite scaffolds, obtained either by 3D-printing or foaming, on the osteogenic potential and scaffold resorption in an in vivo model. While nanostructured hydroxyapatite showed excellent osteoconductive properties irrespective of pore geometry, we demonstrated that the spherical, concave macropores of foamed scaffolds significantly promoted both material resorption and bone regeneration compared to the 3D-printed scaffolds with orthogonal-patterned struts and therefore prismatic, convex macropores.

Keywords: Osteogenesis, Pore architecture, 3D-printing, Foaming, Calcium phosphate


Burgués, Javier, Hernandez, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim J., Marco, Santiago, (2018). 3D Gas distribution with and without artificial airflow: An experimental study with a grid of metal oxide semiconductor gas sensors Proceedings EUROSENSORS 2018 , MDPI (Graz, Austria) 2, (13), 911

Gas distribution modelling can provide potentially life-saving information when assessing the hazards of gaseous emissions and for localization of explosives, toxic or flammable chemicals. In this work, we deployed a three-dimensional (3D) grid of metal oxide semiconductor (MOX) gas sensors deployed in an office room, which allows for novel insights about the complex patterns of indoor gas dispersal. 12 independent experiments were carried out to better understand dispersion patters of a single gas source placed at different locations of the room, including variations in height, release rate and air flow profiles. This dataset is denser and richer than what is currently available, i.e., 2D datasets in wind tunnels. We make it publicly available to enable the community to develop, validate, and compare new approaches related to gas sensing in complex environments.

Keywords: MOX, Metal oxide, Flow visualization, Gas sensors, Gas distribution mapping, Sensor grid, 3D, Gas source localization, Indoor


Barba, A., Diez-Escudero, A., Maazouz, Y., Rappe, K., Espanol, M., Montufar, E. B., Bonany, M., Sadowska, J. M., Guillem-Marti, J., Öhman-Mägi, C., Persson, C., Manzanares, M. C., Franch, J., Ginebra, M. P., (2017). Osteoinduction by Foamed and 3D-Printed Calcium Phosphate Scaffolds: Effect of Nanostructure and Pore Architecture ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces , 9, (48), 41722-41736

Some biomaterials are osteoinductive, that is, they are able to trigger the osteogenic process by inducing the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells to the osteogenic lineage. Although the underlying mechanism is still unclear, microporosity and specific surface area (SSA) have been identified as critical factors in material-associated osteoinduction. However, only sintered ceramics, which have a limited range of porosities and SSA, have been analyzed so far. In this work, we were able to extend these ranges to the nanoscale, through the foaming and 3D-printing of biomimetic calcium phosphates, thereby obtaining scaffolds with controlled micro- and nanoporosity and with tailored macropore architectures. Calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) scaffolds were evaluated after 6 and 12 weeks in an ectopic-implantation canine model and compared with two sintered ceramics, biphasic calcium phosphate and β-tricalcium phosphate. Only foams with spherical, concave macropores and not 3D-printed scaffolds with convex, prismatic macropores induced significant ectopic bone formation. Among them, biomimetic nanostructured CDHA produced the highest incidence of ectopic bone and accelerated bone formation when compared with conventional microstructured sintered calcium phosphates with the same macropore architecture. Moreover, they exhibited different bone formation patterns; in CDHA foams, the new ectopic bone progressively replaced the scaffold, whereas in sintered biphasic calcium phosphate scaffolds, bone was deposited on the surface of the material, progressively filling the pore space. In conclusion, this study demonstrates that the high reactivity of nanostructured biomimetic CDHA combined with a spherical, concave macroporosity allows the pushing of the osteoinduction potential beyond the limits of microstructured calcium phosphate ceramics.

Keywords: 3D-printing, Calcium phosphate, Foaming, Nanostructure, Osteoinduction


Giménez, A., Uriarte, J. J., Vieyra, J., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2017). Elastic properties of hydrogels and decellularized tissue sections used in mechanobiology studies probed by atomic force microscopy Microscopy Research and Technique , 80, (1), 85-96

The increasing recognition that tissue elasticity is an important regulator of cell behavior in normal and pathologic conditions such as fibrosis and cancer has driven the development of cell culture substrata with tunable elasticity. Such development has urged the need to quantify the elastic properties of these cell culture substrata particularly at the nanometer scale, since this is the relevant length scale involved in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) mechanical interactions. To address this need, we have exploited the versatility of atomic force microscopy to quantify the elastic properties of a variety of cell culture substrata used in mechanobiology studies, including floating collagen gels, ECM-coated polyacrylamide gels, and decellularized tissue sections. In this review we summarize major findings in this field from our group within the context of the state-of-the-art in the field, and provide a critical discussion on the applicability and complementarity of currently available cell culture assays with tunable elasticity. In addition, we briefly describe how the limitations of these assays provide opportunities for future research, which is expected to continue expanding our understanding of the mechanobiological aspects that support both normal and diseased conditions.

Keywords: 3D culture, Atomic force microscopy, Elastic modulus, Extracellular matrix, Polyacrylamide


Vila, M., García, A., Girotti, A., Alonso, M., Rodríguez-Cabello, J. C., González-Vázquez, A., Planell, J. A., Engel, E., Buján, J., Garcíaa-Honduvilla, N., Vallet-Regí, M., (2016). 3D silicon doped hydroxyapatite scaffolds decorated with Elastin-like Recombinamers for bone regenerative medicine Acta Biomaterialia 45, 349-356

The current study reports on the manufacturing by rapid prototyping technique of three-dimensional (3D) scaffolds based on silicon substituted hydroxyapatite with Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs) functionalized surfaces. Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), with Ca10(PO4)5.7(SiO4)0.3(OH)1.7h0.3 nominal formula, was surface functionalized with two different types of polymers designed by genetic engineering: ELR-RGD that contain cell attachment specific sequences and ELR-SNA15/RGD with both hydroxyapatite and cells domains that interact with the inorganic phase and with the cells, respectively. These hybrid materials were subjected to in vitro assays in order to clarify if the ELRs coating improved the well-known biocompatible and bone regeneration properties of calcium phosphates materials. The in vitro tests showed that there was a total and homogeneous colonization of the 3D scaffolds by Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs). In addition, the BMSCs were viable and able to proliferate and differentiate into osteoblasts. Statement of Significance Bone tissue engineering is an area of increasing interest because its main applications are directly related to the rising life expectancy of the population, which promotes higher rates of several bone pathologies, so innovative strategies are needed for bone tissue regeneration therapies. Here we use the rapid prototyping technology to allow moulding ceramic 3D scaffolds and we use different bio-polymers for the functionalization of their surfaces in order to enhance the biological response. Combining the ceramic material (silicon doped hydroxyapatite, Si-HA) and the Elastin like Recombinamers (ELRs) polymers with the presence of the integrin-mediate adhesion domain alone or in combination with SNA15 peptide that possess high affinity for hydroxyapatite, provided an improved Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs) differentiation into osteoblastic linkage.

Keywords: Bone marrow Mesenchymal Stromal Cells (BMSCs), Bone repair, Elastin-like Recombinamers (ELRs), Rapid prototyped 3D scaffolds, Silicon doped hydroxyapatite (Si-HA), Tissue engineering


Khalil, I. S. M., Magdanz, V., Sánchez, S., Schmidt, O. G., Misra, S., (2015). Precise localization and control of catalytic janus micromotors using weak magnetic fields International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems , 12, (2), 1-7

We experimentally demonstrate the precise localization of spherical Pt-Silica Janus micromotors (diameter 5 μm) under the influence of controlled magnetic fields. First, we control the motion of the Janus micromotors in two-dimensional (2D) space. The control system achieves precise localization within an average region-of-convergence of 7 μm. Second, we show that these micromotors provide sufficient propulsion force, allowing them to overcome drag and gravitational forces and move both downwards and upwards. This propulsion is studied by moving the micromotors in three-dimensional (3D) space. The micromotors move downwards and upwards at average speeds of 19.1 μm/s and 9.8 μm/s, respectively. Moreover, our closed-loop control system achieves localization in 3D space within an average region-of-convergence of 6.3 μm in diameter. The precise motion control and localization of the Janus micromotors in 2D and 3D spaces provides broad possibilities for nanotechnology applications.

Keywords: 3D space, Localization, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Self-propulsion


Serra, T., Ortiz-Hernandez, M., Engel, E., Planell, J. A., Navarro, M., (2014). Relevance of PEG in PLA-based blends for tissue engineering 3D-printed scaffolds Materials Science and Engineering: C 38, (1), 55-62

Achieving high quality 3D-printed structures requires establishing the right printing conditions. Finding processing conditions that satisfy both the fabrication process and the final required scaffold properties is crucial. This work stresses the importance of studying the outcome of the plasticizing effect of PEG on PLA-based blends used for the fabrication of 3D-direct-printed scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. For this, PLA/PEG blends with 5, 10 and 20% (w/w) of PEG and PLA/PEG/bioactive CaP glass composites were processed in the form of 3D rapid prototyping scaffolds. Surface analysis and differential scanning calorimetry revealed a rearrangement of polymer chains and a topography, wettability and elastic modulus increase of the studied surfaces as PEG was incorporated. Moreover, addition of 10 and 20% PEG led to non-uniform 3D structures with lower mechanical properties. In vitro degradation studies showed that the inclusion of PEG significantly accelerated the degradation rate of the material. Results indicated that the presence of PEG not only improves PLA processing but also leads to relevant surface, geometrical and structural changes including modulation of the degradation rate of PLA-based 3D printed scaffolds.

Keywords: 3D-printing, Polylactic acid, Rapid prototyping, Scaffold, Surface characterization


Casamitjana, M., Pérez, M. C., Aranda, J., Montseny, E., Martin, E. X., (2010). Reliable 3D reconstruction extending pixel-level certainty measures IEEE International Conference on Fuzzy 2010 IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence , IEEE (Barcelona, Spain) , 1-7

A new method for obtaining a three-dimensional volumetric reconstruction from a set of views improving the classical Shape from Silhouette method (SFS) is presented. SFS approaches can be easily accelerated through hardware and software techniques but they are very sensible to errors arising during calibration and segmentation processes so they present difficulties when dealing with real images. This paper proposes a new algorithm which uses the information about pixel segmentation uncertainty contained in each view in order to get a reliable 3D reconstruction of the scene. Aggregation of the projected uncertainties permits to classify scene's voxels by means of a decision rule but also makes it possible to create a three-dimensional confidence map of the scene. As a consequence, the regions where more information is needed can be foreseen. Sample reconstructions from real image sets are presented and evaluated.

Keywords: Calibration, Image classification, Image reconstruction, Image segmentation, 3D reconstruction, Calibration process, Decision rule, Hardware technique, Pixel segmentation, Pixel-level certainty measures, Scene voxel classification, Segmentation process, Shape from silhouette method, Software technique, Three-dimensional confidence map, Three-dimensional volumetric reconstruction


Jang, J. H., Castano, O., Kim, H. W., (2009). Electrospun materials as potential platforms for bone tissue engineering Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews , 61, (12), 1065-1083

Nanofibrous materials produced by electrospinning processes have attracted considerable interest in tissue regeneration, including bone reconstruction. A range of novel materials and processing tools have been developed to mimic the native bone extracellular matrix for potential applications as tissue engineering scaffolds and ultimately to restore degenerated functions of the bone. Degradable polymers, bioactive inorganics and their nanocomposites/hybrids nanofibers with suitable mechanical properties and bone bioactivity for osteoblasts and progenitor/stem cells have been produced. The surface functionalization with apatite minerals and proteins/peptides as well as drug encapsulation within the nanofibers is a promising strategy for achieving therapeutic functions with nanofibrous materials. Recent attempts to endow a 3D scaffolding technique to the electrospinning regime have shown some promise for engineering 3D tissue constructs. With the improvement in knowledge and techniques of bone-targeted nanofibrous matrices, bone tissue engineering is expected to be realized in the near future.

Keywords: Electrospun nanofiber, Bone tissue engineering, Biomimetic matrix, Bone bioactivity, 3D scaffolding