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Hernández-Albors, Alejandro, Castaño, Albert G., Fernández-Garibay, Xiomara, Ortega, María Alejandra, Balaguer, Jordina, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2019). Microphysiological sensing platform for an in-situ detection of tissue-secreted cytokines Biosensors and Bioelectronics: X 2, 100025

Understanding the protein-secretion dynamics from single, specific tissues is critical toward the advancement of disease detection and treatments. However, such secretion dynamics remain difficult to measure in vivo due to the uncontrolled contributions from other tissue populations. Here, we describe an integrated platform designed for the reliable, near real-time measurements of cytokines secreted from an in vitro single-tissue model. In our setup, we grow 3D biomimetic tissues to discretize cytokine source, and we separate them from a magnetic microbead-based biosensing system using a Transwell insert. This design integrates physiochemically controlled biological activity, high-sensitivity protein detection (LOD < 20 pg mL−1), and rapid protein diffusion to enable non-invasive, near real-time measurements. To showcase the specificity and sensitivity of the system, we use our setup to probe the inflammatory process related to the protein Interleukine 6 (IL-6) and to the Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF-α). We show that our setup can monitor the time-dependence profile of IL-6 and TNF-α secretion that results from the electrical and chemical stimulation of 3D skeletal muscle tissues. We demonstrate a novel and affordable methodology for discretizing the secretion kinetics of specific tissues for advancing metabolic-disorder studies and drug-screening applications.

Keywords: Microphysiological tissues, Tissue engineering, Electrochemical, biosensors, Magnetic particles, Skeletal muscle, Electric stimulation


García-Díaz, María, Birch, Ditlev, Wan, Feng, Mørck Nielsen, Hanne, (2018). The role of mucus as an invisible cloak to transepithelial drug delivery by nanoparticles Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 124, 107-124

Mucosal administration of drugs and drug delivery systems has gained increasing interest. However, nanoparticles intended to protect and deliver drugs to epithelial surfaces require transport through the surface-lining mucus. Translation from bench to bedside is particularly challenging for mucosal administration since a variety of parameters will influence the specific barrier properties of the mucus including the luminal fluids, the microbiota, the mucus composition and clearance rate, and the condition of the underlying epithelia. Besides, after administration, nanoparticles interact with the mucosal components, forming a biomolecular corona that modulates their behavior and fate after mucosal administration. These interactions are greatly influenced by the nanoparticle properties, and therefore different designs and surface-engineering strategies have been proposed. Overall, it is essential to evaluate these biomolecule-nanoparticle interactions by complementary techniques using complex and relevant mucus barrier matrices.

Keywords: Nanoparticle formulation strategies, Corona formation, Digestive tract, Respiratory tract, Luminal content, Methodologies, Analysis


Katuri, Jaideep, Caballero, David, Voituriez, R., Samitier, Josep, Sanchez, Samuel, (2018). Directed flow of micromotors through alignment interactions with micropatterned ratchets ACS Nano 12, (7), 7282-7291

To achieve control over naturally diffusive, out-of-equilibrium systems composed of self-propelled particles, such as cells or self-phoretic colloids, is a long-standing challenge in active matter physics. The inherently random motion of these active particles can be rectified in the presence of local and periodic asymmetric cues given that a non-trivial interaction exists between the self-propelled particle and the cues. Here, we exploit the phoretic and hydrodynamic interactions of synthetic micromotors with local topographical features to break the time-reversal symmetry of particle trajectories and to direct a macroscopic flow of micromotors. We show that the orientational alignment induced on the micromotors by the topographical features, together with their geometrical asymmetry, are crucial in generating directional particle flow. We also show that our system can be used to concentrate micromotors in confined spaces and identify the interactions responsible for this effect. Finally, we develop a minimal model which identifies the main parameters of the system responsible for the observed rectification. Overall, our system allows for robust control over both temporal and spatial distribution of synthetic micromotors.

Keywords: Active colloids, Directional control, Janus particles, Micromotors, Self-propulsion


Navarro-Requena, Claudia, Weaver, Jessica D., Clark, Amy Y., Clift, Douglas A., Pérez-Amodio, Soledad, Castaño, Óscar, Zhou, Dennis W., García, Andrés J., Engel, Elisabeth, (2018). PEG hydrogel containing calcium-releasing particles and mesenchymal stromal cells promote vessel maturation Acta Biomaterialia 67, 53-65

The use of human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSC) for treating diseased tissues with poor vascularization has received significant attention, but low cell survival has hampered its translation to the clinic. Bioglasses and glass-ceramics have also been suggested as therapeutic agents for stimulating angiogenesis in soft tissues, but these effects need further evaluation in vivo. In this study, calcium-releasing particles and hMSC were combined within a hydrogel to examine their vasculogenic potential in vitro and in vivo. The particles provided sustained calcium release and showed proangiogenic stimulation in a chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assay. The number of hMSC encapsulated in a degradable RGD-functionalized PEG hydrogel containing particles remained constant over time and IGF-1 release was increased. When implanted in the epidydimal fat pad of immunocompromised mice, this composite material improved cell survival and stimulated vessel formation and maturation. Thus, the combination of hMSC and calcium-releasing glass-ceramics represents a new strategy to achieve vessel stabilization, a key factor in the revascularization of ischemic tissues. Statement of Significance: Increasing blood vessel formation in diseased tissues with poor vascularization is a current clinical challenge. Cell therapy using human mesenchymal stem cells has received considerable interest, but low cell survival has hampered its translation to the clinic. Bioglasses and glass-ceramics have been explored as therapeutic agents for stimulating angiogenesis in soft tissues, but these effects need further evaluation in vivo. By incorporating both human mesenchymal stem cells and glass-ceramic particles in an implantable hydrogel, this study provides insights into the vasculogenic potential in soft tissues of the combined strategies. Enhancement of vessel formation and maturation supports further investigation of this strategy.

Keywords: Calcium, Glass-ceramic particles, Vascularization, hMSC, Hydrogel


Silva, N., Riveros, A., Yutronic, N., Lang, E., Chornik, B., Guerrero, S., Samitier, J., Jara, P., Kogan, M. J., (2018). Photothermally controlled methotrexate release system using β-cyclodextrin and gold nanoparticles Nanomaterials 8, (12), 985

The inclusion compound (IC) of cyclodextrin (CD) containing the antitumor drug Methotrexate (MTX) as a guest molecule was obtained to increase the solubility of MTX and decrease its inherent toxic effects in nonspecific cells. The IC was conjugated with gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), obtained by a chemical method, creating a ternary intelligent delivery system for MTX molecules, based on the plasmonic properties of the AuNPs. Irradiation of the ternary system, with a laser wavelength tunable with the corresponding surface plasmon of AuNPs, causes local energy dissipation, producing the controlled release of the guest from CD cavities. Finally, cell viability was evaluated using MTS assays for β-CD/MTX and AuNPs + β-CD/MTX samples, with and without irradiation, against HeLa tumor cells. The irradiated sample of the ternary system AuNPs + β-CD/MTX produced a diminution in cell viability attributed to the photothermal release of MTX.

Keywords: Cyclodextrin, Delivery system, Gold nanoparticles, Inclusion compound, Irradiation, Laser, Methotrexate, Photothermal release


Gállego, Isaac, Manning, Brendan, Prades, Joan Daniel, Mir, Mònica, Samitier, Josep, Eritja, Ramon, (2017). DNA-origami-driven lithography for patterning on gold surfaces with sub-10 nm resolution Advanced Materials , 29, 1603233

Agusil, Juan Pablo, Torras, Núria, Duch, Marta, Esteve, Jaume, Pérez-García, Lluïsa, Samitier, Josep, Plaza, José A., (2017). Highly anisotropic suspended planar-array chips with multidimensional sub-micrometric biomolecular patterns Advanced Functional Materials 27, 1605912

Suspended planar-array (SPA) chips embody millions of individual miniaturized arrays to work in extremely small volumes. Here, the basis of a robust methodology for the fabrication of SPA silicon chips with on-demand physical and chemical anisotropies is demonstrated. Specifically, physical traits are defined during the fabrication process with special focus on the aspect ratio, branching, faceting, and size gradient of the final chips. Additionally, the chemical attributes augment the functionality of the chips with the inclusion of complete coverage or patterns of selected biomolecules on the surface of the chips with contact printing techniques, offering an extremely high versatility, not only with the choice of the pattern shape and distribution but also in the choice of biomolecular inks to pattern. This approach increases the miniaturization of printed arrays in 3D structures by two orders of magnitude compared to those previously demonstrated. Finally, functional micrometric and sub-micrometric patterned features are demonstrated with an antibody binding assay with the recognition of the printed spots with labeled antibodies from solution. The selective addition of physical and chemical attributes on the suspended chips represents the basis for future biomedical assays performed within extremely small volumes.

Keywords: Microcontact printing, Microparticles, Molecular multiplexing, Polymer pen lithography, Silicon chip technology


Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Beck, Michaela, Pujals, Sílvia, Tosi, Sébastien, Mandal, Tamoghna, Buske, Christian, Linden, Mika, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2017). Super-resolution microscopy unveils dynamic heterogeneities in nanoparticle protein corona Small 13, (41), 1701631

The adsorption of serum proteins, leading to the formation of a biomolecular corona, is a key determinant of the biological identity of nanoparticles in vivo. Therefore, gaining knowledge on the formation, composition, and temporal evolution of the corona is of utmost importance for the development of nanoparticle-based therapies. Here, it is shown that the use of super-resolution optical microscopy enables the imaging of the protein corona on mesoporous silica nanoparticles with single protein sensitivity. Particle-by-particle quantification reveals a significant heterogeneity in protein absorption under native conditions. Moreover, the diversity of the corona evolves over time depending on the surface chemistry and degradability of the particles. This paper investigates the consequences of protein adsorption for specific cell targeting by antibody-functionalized nanoparticles providing a detailed understanding of corona-activity relations. The methodology is widely applicable to a variety of nanostructures and complements the existing ensemble approaches for protein corona study.

Keywords: Heterogeneity, Mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Protein corona, Super-resolution imaging, Targeting


Vilela, D., Stanton, M. M., Parmar, J., Sánchez, S., (2017). Microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles kill bacteria in aqueous media ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 9, (27), 22093-22100

Water contamination is one of the most persistent problems of public health. Resistance of some pathogens to conventional disinfectants can require the combination of multiple disinfectants or increased disinfectant doses, which may produce harmful byproducts. Here, we describe an efficient method for disinfecting Escherichia coli and removing the bacteria from contaminated water using water self-propelled Janus microbots decorated with silver nanoparticles (AgNPs). The structure of a spherical Janus microbot consists of a magnesium (Mg) microparticle as a template that also functions as propulsion source by producing hydrogen bubbles when in contact with water, an inner iron (Fe) magnetic layer for their remote guidance and collection, and an outer AgNP-coated gold (Au) layer for bacterial adhesion and improving bactericidal properties. The active motion of microbots increases the chances of the contact of AgNPs on the microbot surface with bacteria, which provokes the selective Ag+ release in their cytoplasm, and the microbot self-propulsion increases the diffusion of the released Ag+ ions. In addition, the AgNP-coated Au cap of the microbots has a dual capability of capturing bacteria and then killing them. Thus, we have demonstrated that AgNP-coated Janus microbots are capable of efficiently killing more than 80% of E. coli compared with colloidal AgNPs that killed only less than 35% of E. coli in contaminated water solutions in 15 min. After capture and extermination of bacteria, magnetic properties of the cap allow collection of microbots from water along with the captured dead bacteria, leaving water with no biological contaminants. The presented biocompatible Janus microbots offer an encouraging method for rapid disinfection of water.

Keywords: Bactericidal, Magnetic control, Micromotors, Microswimmers, Self-propulsion, Silver nanoparticles


Ma, X., Sánchez, S., (2017). Bio-catalytic mesoporous Janus nano-motors powered by catalase enzyme Tetrahedron , 73, (33), 4883-4886

Enzyme triggered bio-catalytic reactions convert chemical energy into mechanical force to power micro/nano-machines. Though there have been reports about enzymes powered micro/nano-motors, enzymatic Janus nano-motor smaller than 100 nm has not been reported yet. Here, we prepared an enzyme powered Janus nano-motor by half-capping a thin layer of silicon dioxide (4 nm SiO2) onto a mesoporous silica nanoparticle (MSNP) of 90 nm, enabling asymmetry to the nano-architecture. The nano-motors are chemically powered by the decomposition of H2O2 triggered by the enzyme catalase located at one face of the nanoparticles. The self-propulsion is characterized by dynamic light scattering (DLS) and optical microscopy. The apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by 150% compared to their Brownian motion at low H2O2 concentration (i.e. below 3 wt%). Mesoporous nano-motors might serve as active drug delivery nano-systems in future biomedical applications such as intracellular drug delivery.

Keywords: Enzyme catalysis, Janus particles, Mesoporous silica, Nano-motors, Nanomachine, Self-propulsion


Marsal, Maria, Jorba, Ignasi, Rebollo, Elena, Luque, Tomas, Navajas, Daniel, Martín-Blanco, Enrique, (2017). AFM and microrheology in the zebrafish embryo yolk cell Journal of Visualized Experiments Developmental Biology, (129), e56224

Elucidating the factors that direct the spatio-temporal organization of evolving tissues is one of the primary purposes in the study of development. Various propositions claim to have been important contributions to the understanding of the mechanical properties of cells and tissues in their spatiotemporal organization in different developmental and morphogenetic processes. However, due to the lack of reliable and accessible tools to measure material properties and tensional parameters in vivo, validating these hypotheses has been difficult. Here we present methods employing atomic force microscopy (AFM) and particle tracking with the aim of quantifying the mechanical properties of the intact zebrafish embryo yolk cell during epiboly. Epiboly is an early conserved developmental process whose study is facilitated by the transparency of the embryo. These methods are simple to implement, reliable, and widely applicable since they overcome intrusive interventions that could affect tissue mechanics. A simple strategy was applied for the mounting of specimens, AFM recording, and nanoparticle injections and tracking. This approach makes these methods easily adaptable to other developmental times or organisms.

Keywords: Developmental Biology, Zebrafish, Yolk, Atomic Force Microscopy, Cortical Tension, Microrheology, Nanoparticle tracking


Gállego, Isaac, Manning, Brendan, Prades, Joan Daniel, Mir, Mónica, Samitier, Josep, Eritja, Ramon, (2017). DNA-Origami-Aided Lithography for Sub-10 Nanometer Pattern Printing Proceedings Eurosensors 2017 , MDPI (Paris, France) 1, (4), 325

We report the first DNA-based origami technique that can print addressable patterns on surfaces with sub-10 nm resolution. Specifically, we have used a two-dimensional DNA origami as a template (DNA origami stamp) to transfer DNA with pre-programmed patterns (DNA ink) on gold surfaces. The DNA ink is composed of thiol-modified staple strands incorporated at specific positions of the DNA origami stamp to create patterns upon thiol-gold bond formation on the surface (DNA ink). The DNA pattern formed is composed of unique oligonucleotide sequences, each of which is individually addressable. As a proof-of-concept, we created a linear pattern of oligonucleotide-modified gold nanoparticles complementary to the DNA ink pattern. We have developed an in silico model to identify key elements in the formation of our DNA origami-driven lithography and nanoparticle patterning as well as simulate more complex nanoparticle patterns on surfaces.

Keywords: DNA nanotechnology, Lithography, Nanopatterning, Gold nanoparticles, Metasurfaces


De Koker, Stefaan, Cui, Jiwei, Vanparijs, Nane, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Grooten, Johan, Caruso, Frank, De Geest, Bruno G., (2016). Engineering polymer hydrogel nanoparticles for lymph node-targeted delivery Angewandte Chemie - International Edition , 55, (4), 1334-1339

The induction of antigen-specific adaptive immunity exclusively occurs in lymphoid organs. As a consequence, the efficacy by which vaccines reach these tissues strongly affects the efficacy of the vaccine. Here, we report the design of polymer hydrogel nanoparticles that efficiently target multiple immune cell subsets in the draining lymph nodes. Nanoparticles are fabricated by infiltrating mesoporous silica particles (ca. 200 nm) with poly(methacrylic acid) followed by disulfide-based crosslinking and template removal. PEGylation of these nanoparticles does not affect their cellular association in vitro, but dramatically improves their lymphatic drainage in vivo. The functional relevance of these observations is further illustrated by the increased priming of antigen-specific T cells. Our findings highlight the potential of engineered hydrogel nanoparticles for the lymphatic delivery of antigens and immune-modulating compounds.

Keywords: Dendritic cells, Disulfides, Hydrogels, Nanoparticles, Vaccines


Maggi, Claudio, Simmchen, Juliane, Saglimbeni, Filippo, Katuri, Jaideep, Dipalo, Michele, De Angelis, Francesco, Sánchez, Samuel, Di Leonardo, Roberto, (2016). Self-assembly of micromachining systems powered by Janus micromotors Small 12, (4), 446-451

Janus particles can self-assemble around microfabricated gears in reproducible configurations with a high degree of spatial and orientational order. The final configuration maximizes the torque applied on the rotor leading to a unidirectional and steady rotating motion. The interplay between geometry and dynamical behavior leads to the self-assembly of Janus micromotors starting from randomly distributed particles.

Keywords: Active catalytic particles, Microgears, Micromachines, Janus particles, Self-assembly, Self-propulsion


Fernanda, Andrade, Pedro, Fonte, Ana, Costa, Cassilda Cunha, Reis, Rute, Nunes, Andreia, Almeida, Domingos, Ferreira, Mireia, Oliva, Bruno, Sarmento, (2016). Pharmacological and toxicological assessment of innovative self-assembled polymeric micelles as powders for insulin pulmonary delivery Nanomedicine 11, (17), 2305-2317

Aim: Explore the use of polymeric micelles in the development of powders intended for pulmonary delivery of biopharmaceuticals, using insulin as a model protein. Materials & methods: Formulations were assessed in vitro for aerosolization properties and in vivo for efficacy and safety using a streptozotocin-induced diabetic rat model. Results: Powders presented good aerosolization properties like fine particle fraction superior to 40% and a mass median aerodynamic diameter inferior of 6 μm. Endotracheally instilled powders have shown a faster onset of action than subcutaneous administration of insulin at a dose of 10 IU/kg, with pharmacological availabilities up to 32.5% of those achieved by subcutaneous route. Additionally, micelles improved the hypoglycemic effect of insulin. Bronchoalveolar lavage screening for toxicity markers (e.g., lactate dehydrogenase, cytokines) revealed no signs of lung inflammation and cytotoxicity 14 days postadministration. Conclusion: Developed powders showed promising safety and efficacy characteristics for the systemic delivery of insulin by pulmonary administration.

Keywords: Fine particle fraction, Inhalation, Insulin, In vivo, Pharmacological availability, Polymeric micelles, Pulmonary toxicity


Stanton, Morgan M., Simmchen, Juliane, Ma, Xing, Miguel-López, Albert, Sánchez, Samuel, (2016). Biohybrid Janus motors driven by Escherichia coli Advanced Materials Interfaces , 3, (2), 1500505

There has been a significant interest in the development of microswimmers for medical drug and cargo delivery, but the majority of current micromotors rely on toxic fuel sources and materials in their design making them irrelevant for biomedical applications. Bacteria represent an excellent motor alternative, as they are powered using their surrounding biological fluids. For a motile, biohybrid swimmer, Escherichia coli (E. coli) are integrated onto metal capped, polystyrene (PS) Janus particles. Fabrication of the biohybrid is rapid and simple for a microswimmer capable of magnetic guidance and ferrying an anticancer agent. Cell adhesion is regulated as E. coli adheres only to the particle's metal caps allowing the PS surface to be utilized for drug attachment, creating a multifunctional system. E. coli adhesion is investigated on multiple metal caps (Pt, Fe, Ti, or Au) and displays a strong preference to attach to Pt surfaces over other metals. Surface hydrophobicity and surface charge are examined to interpret the cell specific adhesion on the Janus particles. The dual capability of the biohybrid to have guided cell adhesion and localized drug attachment allows the swimmer to have multiple applications for biomedical microswimmers, future bacteria-interface systems, and micro-biorobots.

Keywords: Bacteria adhesion, Biohybrids, Escherichia coli, Janus particles, Microswimmers


Tahirbegi, I.B., Pardo, W.A., Alvira, M., Mir, M., Samitier, J., (2016). Amyloid Aβ 42, a promoter of magnetite nanoparticle formation in Alzheimer's disease Nanotechnology 27, (46), 465102

The accumulation of iron oxides - mainly magnetite - with amyloid peptide is a key process in the development of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, the mechanism for biogeneration of magnetite inside the brain of someone with AD is still unclear. The iron-storing protein ferritin has been identified as the main magnetite-storing molecule. However, accumulations of magnetite in AD are not correlated with an increase in ferritin, leaving this question unresolved. Here we demonstrate the key role of amyloid peptide Aβ 42, one of the main hallmarks of AD, in the generation of magnetite nanoparticles in the absence of ferritin. The capacity of amyloid peptide to bind and concentrate iron hydroxides, the basis for the formation of magnetite, benefits the spontaneous synthesis of these nanoparticles, even under unfavorable conditions for their formation. Using scanning and transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy and magnetic force microscopy we characterized the capacity of amyloid peptide Aβ 42 to promote magnetite formation.

Keywords: Alzheimer disease (AD), amyloid peptide Ab42, magnetite nanoparticle, metallobiomolecule, iron oxide, neurodegenerative brain diseases


Silva, N., Muñoz, C., Diaz-Marcos, J., Samitier, J., Yutronic, N., Kogan, M. J., Jara, P., (2016). In situ visualization of the local photothermal effect produced on α-cyclodextrin inclusion compound associated with gold nanoparticles Nanoscale Research Letters 11, 180

Evidence of guest migration in α-cyclodextrin-octylamine (α-CD-OA) inclusion compound (IC) generated via plasmonic heating of gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) has been studied. In this report, we demonstrate local effects generated by laser-mediated irradiation of a sample of AuNPs covered with inclusion compounds on surface-derivatized glass under liquid conditions by atomic force microscopy (AFM). Functionalized AuNPs on the glass and covered by the ICs were monitored by recording images by AFM during 5 h of irradiation, and images showed that after irradiation, a drastic decrease in the height of the AuNPs occurred. The absorption spectrum of the irradiated sample showed a hypsochromic shift from 542 to 536 nm, evidence suggesting that much of the population of nanoparticles lost all of the parts of the overlay of ICs due to the plasmonic heat generated by the irradiation. Mass spectrometry matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization-time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) performed on a sample containing a collection of drops obtained from the surface of the functionalized glass provided evidence that the irradiation lead to disintegration of the ICs and therefore exit of the octylamine molecule (the guest) from the cyclodextrin cavity (the matrix).

Keywords: Cyclodextrin inclusion compound, Gold nanoparticles, Guest migration, Plasmonic heating


Ma, X., Jannasch, A., Albrecht, U. R., Hahn, K., Miguel-López, A., Schäffer, E., Sánchez, S., (2015). Enzyme-powered hollow mesoporous Janus nanomotors Nano Letters 15, (10), 7043-7050

The development of synthetic nanomotors for technological applications in particular for life science and nanomedicine is a key focus of current basic research. However, it has been challenging to make active nanosystems based on biocompatible materials consuming nontoxic fuels for providing self-propulsion. Here, we fabricate self-propelled Janus nanomotors based on hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles (HMSNPs), which are powered by biocatalytic reactions of three different enzymes: catalase, urease, and glucose oxidase (GOx). The active motion is characterized by a mean-square displacement (MSD) analysis of optical video recordings and confirmed by dynamic light scattering (DLS) measurements. We found that the apparent diffusion coefficient was enhanced by up to 83%. In addition, using optical tweezers, we directly measured a holding force of 64 ± 16 fN, which was necessary to counteract the effective self-propulsion force generated by a single nanomotor. The successful demonstration of biocompatible enzyme-powered active nanomotors using biologically benign fuels has a great potential for future biomedical applications.

Keywords: Enzyme, Hollow mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Hybrid motors, Janus particles, Nanomotors, Optical tweezers


Ma, X., Katuri, J., Zeng, Y., Zhao, Y., Sánchez, S., (2015). Surface conductive graphene-wrapped micromotors exhibiting enhanced motion Small 11, (38), 5023–5027

Surface-conductive Janus spherical motors are fabricated by wrapping silica particles with reduced graphene oxide capped with a thin Pt layer. These motors exhibit a 100% enhanced velocity as compared to standard SiO2–Pt motors. Furthermore, the versatility of graphene may open up possibilities for a diverse range of applications from active drug delivery systems to water remediation.

Keywords: Enhanced speed, Graphene wrapping, Janus micromotors, Janus particles, Micromotors, Surface conduction


Baelo, Aida, Levato, Riccardo, Julián, Esther, Crespo, Anna, Astola, José, Gavaldà, Joan, Engel, Elisabeth, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel Angel, Torrents, Eduard, (2015). Disassembling bacterial extracellular matrix with DNase-coated nanoparticles to enhance antibiotic delivery in biofilm infections Journal of Controlled Release 209, 150-158

Abstract Infections caused by biofilm-forming bacteria are a major threat to hospitalized patients and the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cystic fibrosis. There is an urgent necessity for novel therapeutic approaches, since current antibiotic delivery fails to eliminate biofilm-protected bacteria. In this study, ciprofloxacin-loaded poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles, which were functionalized with DNase I, were fabricated using a green-solvent based method and their antibiofilm activity was assessed against Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms. Such nanoparticles constitute a paradigm shift in biofilm treatment, since, besides releasing ciprofloxacin in a controlled fashion, they are able to target and disassemble the biofilm by degrading the extracellular DNA that stabilize the biofilm matrix. These carriers were compared with free-soluble ciprofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin encapsulated in untreated and poly(lysine)-coated nanoparticles. DNase I-activated nanoparticles were not only able to prevent biofilm formation from planktonic bacteria, but they also successfully reduced established biofilm mass, size and living cell density, as observed in a dynamic environment in a flow cell biofilm assay. Moreover, repeated administration over three days of DNase I-coated nanoparticles encapsulating ciprofloxacin was able to reduce by 95% and then eradicate more than 99.8% of established biofilm, outperforming all the other nanoparticle formulations and the free-drug tested in this study. These promising results, together with minimal cytotoxicity as tested on J774 macrophages, allow obtaining novel antimicrobial nanoparticles, as well as provide clues to design the next generation of drug delivery devices to treat persistent bacterial infections.

Keywords: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Biofilm, Ciprofloxacin, DNase I, Nanoparticles


Seo, K. D., Kwak, B. K., Sánchez, S., Kim, D. S., (2015). Microfluidic-assisted fabrication of flexible and location traceable organo-motor IEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience , 14, (3), 298-304

In this paper, we fabricate a flexible and location traceable micromotor, called organo-motor, assisted by microfluidic devices and with high throughput. The organo-motors are composed of organic hydrogel material, poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA), which can provide the flexibility of their structure. For spatial and temporal traceability of the organo-motors under magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION; Fe3O4) were incorporated into the PEGDA microhydrogels. Furthermore, a thin layer of platinum (Pt) was deposited onto one side of the SPION-PEGDA microhydrogels providing geometrical asymmetry and catalytic propulsion in aqueous fluids containing hydrogen peroxide solution, H2O2. Furthermore, the motion of the organo-motor was controlled by a small external magnet enabled by the presence of SPION in the motor architecture.

Keywords: Flexible, Hydrogel, Magnetic resonance imaging, Microfluidics, Micromotor, Microparticle, Organo-motor, Poly (ethylene glycol) diacrylate, Self-propulsion, Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Toy kit against malaria: Magic bullets, LEGO, Trojan horses and Russian dolls Therapeutic Delivery , 5, (10), 1049-1052

Cuervo, A., Dans, P. D., Carrascosa, J. L., Orozco, M., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2014). Direct measurement of the dielectric polarization properties of DNA Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, (35), E3624-E3630

The electric polarizability of DNA, represented by the dielectric constant, is a key intrinsic property that modulates DNA interaction with effector proteins. Surprisingly, it has so far remained unknown owing to the lack of experimental tools able to access it. Here, we experimentally resolved it by detecting the ultraweak polarization forces of DNA inside single T7 bacteriophages particles using electrostatic force microscopy. In contrast to the common assumption of low-polarizable behavior like proteins (εr ~ 2–4), we found that the DNA dielectric constant is ~ 8, considerably higher than the value of ~ 3 found for capsid proteins. State-of-the-art molecular dynamic simulations confirm the experimental findings, which result in sensibly decreased DNA interaction free energy than normally predicted by Poisson–Boltzmann methods. Our findings reveal a property at the basis of DNA structure and functions that is needed for realistic theoretical descriptions, and illustrate the synergetic power of scanning probe microscopy and theoretical computation techniques.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, capsid protein, DNA, double stranded DNA, amino acid composition, article, atomic force microscopy, bacteriophage, bacteriophage T7, dielectric constant, dipole, DNA binding, DNA packaging, DNA structure, electron microscopy, ligand binding, nonhuman, polarization, priority journal, protein analysis, protein DNA interaction, scanning probe microscopy, static electricity, virion, virus capsid, virus particle, atomic force microscopy, atomistic simulations, DNA packaging, DNA-ligand binding, Poisson-Boltzmann equation, Bacteriophage T7, Capsid, Cations, Dielectric Spectroscopy, DNA, DNA, Viral, DNA-Binding Proteins, Electrochemical Techniques, Ligands, Microscopy, Atomic Force, Models, Chemical, Nuclear Proteins


Movellan, J., Urbán, P., Moles, E., de la Fuente, J. M., Sierra, T., Serrano, J. L., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Amphiphilic dendritic derivatives as nanocarriers for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Biomaterials 35, (27), 7940-7950

It can be foreseen that in a future scenario of malaria eradication, a varied armamentarium will be required, including strategies for the targeted administration of antimalarial compounds. The development of nanovectors capable of encapsulating drugs and of delivering them to Plasmodium-infected cells with high specificity and efficacy and at an affordable cost is of particular interest. With this objective, dendritic derivatives based on 2,2-bis(hydroxymethyl)propionic acid (bis-MPA) and Pluronic® polymers have been herein explored. Four different dendritic derivatives have been tested for their capacity to encapsulate the antimalarial drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine (PQ), their specific targeting to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs), and their antimalarial activity in vitro against the human pathogen Plasmodium falciparum and in vivo against the rodent malaria species Plasmodium yoelii. The results obtained have allowed the identification of two dendritic derivatives exhibiting specific targeting to pRBCs vs. non-infected RBCs, which reduce the in vitro IC50 of CQ and PQ by ca. 3- and 4-fold down to 4.0 nm and 1.1 μm, respectively. This work on the application of dendritic derivatives to antimalarial targeted drug delivery opens the way for the use of this new type of chemicals in future malaria eradication programs.

Keywords: Antimalarial targeted drug delivery, Dendrimers, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polymeric nanoparticles


Marques, J., Moles, E., Urbán, P., Prohens, R., Busquets, M. A., Sevrin, C., Grandfils, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Application of heparin as a dual agent with antimalarial and liposome targeting activities toward Plasmodium-infected red blood cells Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 10, (8), 1719-1728

Heparin had been demonstrated to have antimalarial activity and specific binding affinity for Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) vs. non-infected erythrocytes. Here we have explored if both properties could be joined into a drug delivery strategy where heparin would have a dual role as antimalarial and as a targeting element of drug-loaded nanoparticles. Confocal fluorescence and transmission electron microscopy data show that after 30. min of being added to living pRBCs fluorescein-labeled heparin colocalizes with the intracellular parasites. Heparin electrostatically adsorbed onto positively charged liposomes containing the cationic lipid 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane and loaded with the antimalarial drug primaquine was capable of increasing three-fold the activity of encapsulated drug in Plasmodium falciparum cultures. At concentrations below those inducing anticoagulation of mouse blood in vivo, parasiticidal activity was found to be the additive result of the separate activities of free heparin as antimalarial and of liposome-bound heparin as targeting element for encapsulated primaquine. From the Clinical Editor: Malaria remains an enormous global public health concern. In this study, a novel functionalized heparin formulation used as drug delivery agent for primaquine was demonstrated to result in threefold increased drug activity in cell cultures, and in a murine model it was able to provide these benefits in concentrations below what would be required for anticoagulation. Further studies are needed determine if this approach is applicable in the human disease as well.

Keywords: Heparin, Liposomes, Malaria, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery, Heparin, Malaria, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery, Liposomes, 1,2 dioleoyl 3 trimethylammoniopropane, fluorescein, heparin, liposome, nanoparticle, primaquine, adsorption, animal experiment, anticoagulation, antimalarial activity, Article, binding affinity, confocal microscopy, controlled study, drug targeting, encapsulation, erythrocyte, female, fluorescence microscopy, human, human cell, in vivo study, liposomal delivery, mouse, nonhuman, Plasmodium falciparum, transmission electron microscopy


Dalmases, M., Torres, M., Márquez-Kisinousky, L., Almendros, I., Planas, A. M., Embid, C., Martínez-Garcia, M. A., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Montserrat, J. M., (2014). Brain tissue hypoxia and oxidative stress induced by obstructive apneas is different in young and aged rats Sleep , 37, (7), 1249-1256

Study Objectives: To test the hypotheses that brain oxygen partial pressure (PtO2) in response to obstructive apneas changes with age and that it might lead to different levels of cerebral tissue oxidative stress. Design: Prospective controlled animal study. Setting: University laboratory. Participants: Sixty-four male Wistar rats: 32 young (3 mo old) and 32 aged (18 mo). Interventions: Protocol 1: Twenty-four animals were subjected to obstructive apneas (50 apneas/h, lasting 15 sec each) or to sham procedure for 50 min. Protocol 2: Forty rats were subjected to obstructive apneas or sham procedure for 4 h. Measurements and Results: Protocol 1: Real-time PtO2 measurements were performed using a fast-response oxygen microelectrode. During successive apneas cerebral cortex PtO2 presented a different pattern in the two age groups; there was a fast increase in young rats, whereas it remained without significant changes between the beginning and the end of the protocol in the aged group. Protocol 2: Brain oxidative stress assessed by lipid peroxidation increased after apneas in young rats (1.34 ± 0.17 nmol/mg of protein) compared to old ones (0.63 ± 0.03 nmol/mg), where a higher expression of antioxidant enzymes was observed. Conclusions: The results suggest that brain oxidative stress in aged rats is lower than in young rats in response to recurrent apneas, mimicking obstructive sleep apnea. This could be due to the different PtO2 response observed between age groups and the increased antioxidant expression in aged rats.

Keywords: Aging, Animal model, Obstructive apnea, Oxidative stress, Tissue oxygenation, antioxidant, glutathione disulfide, aged, animal experiment, animal model, animal tissue, apnea, arterial oxygen saturation, article, brain cortex, brain oxygen tension, brain tissue, controlled study, groups by age, hypoxia, lipid peroxidation, male, nonhuman, oxidative stress, pressure, priority journal, rat


Urbán, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Nanomedicine against malaria Current Medicinal Chemistry , 21, (5), 605-629

Malaria is arguably one of the main medical concerns worldwide because of the numbers of people affected, the severity of the disease and the complexity of the life cycle of its causative agent, the protist Plasmodium sp. The clinical, social and economic burden of malaria has led for the last 100 years to several waves of serious efforts to reach its control and eventual eradication, without success to this day. With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria in the form of a nanovector for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells. Different types of encapsulating structure, targeting molecule, and antimalarial compound will be discussed for the assembly of Trojan horse nanocapsules capable of targeting with complete specificity diseased cells and of delivering inside them their antimalarial cargo with the objective of eliminating the parasite with a single dose. Nanotechnology can also be applied to the discovery of new antimalarials through single-molecule manipulation approaches for the identification of novel drugs targeting essential molecular components of the parasite. Finally, methods for the diagnosis of malaria can benefit from nanotools applied to the design of microfluidic-based devices for the accurate identification of the parasite's strain, its precise infective load, and the relative content of the different stages of its life cycle, whose knowledge is essential for the administration of adequate therapies. The benefits and drawbacks of these nanosystems will be considered in different possible scenarios, including cost-related issues that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

Keywords: Dendrimers, Liposomes, Malaria diagnosis, Nanobiosensors, Nanoparticles, Plasmodium, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Fumagalli, L., Edwards, Martin Andrew, Gomila, G., (2014). Quantitative electrostatic force microscopy with sharp silicon tips Nanotechnology 25, (49), 495701 (9)

Electrostatic force microscopy (EFM) probes are typically coated in either metal (radius ~ 30 nm) or highly-doped diamond (radius ~ 100 nm). Highly-doped silicon probes, which offer a sharpened and stable tip apex (radius ~ 1–10 nm) and are usually used only in standard atomic force microscopy, have been recently shown to allow enhanced lateral resolution in quantitative EFM and its application for dielectric constant measurement. Here we present the theoretical modelling required to quantitatively interpret the electrostatic force between these sharpened tips and samples. In contrast to a sphere-capped cone geometry used to describe metal/diamond-coated tips, modelling a sharpened silicon tip requires a geometry comprised of a cone with two different angles. Theoretical results are supported by experimental measurements of metallic substrates and ~10 nm radius dielectric nanoparticles. This work is equally applicable to EFM and other electrical scanned probe techniques, where it allows quantifying electrical properties of nanomaterials and 3D nano-objects with higher resolution.

Keywords: AFM, Dielectric constant, EFM, Dielectrics, Nanoparticles, Sharp tips


Melo, E., Cárdenes, N., Garreta, E., Luque, T., Rojas, M., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Inhomogeneity of local stiffness in the extracellular matrix scaffold of fibrotic mouse lungs Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 37, 186-195

Lung disease models are useful to study how cell engraftment, proliferation and differentiation are modulated in lung bioengineering. The aim of this work was to characterize the local stiffness of decellularized lungs in aged and fibrotic mice. Mice (2- and 24-month old; 14 of each) with lung fibrosis (N=20) and healthy controls (N=8) were euthanized after 11 days of intratracheal bleomycin (fibrosis) or saline (controls) infusion. The lungs were excised, decellularized by a conventional detergent-based (sodium-dodecyl sulfate) procedure and slices of the acellular lungs were prepared to measure the local stiffness by means of atomic force microscopy. The local stiffness of the different sites in acellular fibrotic lungs was very inhomogeneous within the lung and increased according to the degree of the structural fibrotic lesion. Local stiffness of the acellular lungs did not show statistically significant differences caused by age. The group of mice most affected by fibrosis exhibited local stiffness that were ~2-fold higher than in the control mice: from 27.2±1.64 to 64.8±7.1. kPa in the alveolar septa, from 56.6±4.6 to 99.9±11.7. kPa in the visceral pleura, from 41.1±8.0 to 105.2±13.6. kPa in the tunica adventitia, and from 79.3±7.2 to 146.6±28.8. kPa in the tunica intima. Since acellular lungs from mice with bleomycin-induced fibrosis present considerable micromechanical inhomogeneity, this model can be a useful tool to better investigate how different degrees of extracellular matrix lesion modulate cell fate in the process of organ bioengineering from decellularized lungs.

Keywords: Ageing, Atomic force microscopy, Decellularization, Lung fibrosis, Tissue engineering, Atomic force microscopy, Biological organs, Peptides, Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sodium sulfate, Tissue engineering, Ageing, Decellularization, Extracellular matrices, Healthy controls, Inhomogeneities, Lung fibrosis, Micro-mechanical, Statistically significant difference, Mammals, bleomycin, adventitia, animal experiment, animal model, article, atomic force microscopy, bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis, cell fate, controlled study, extracellular matrix, female, intima, lung alveolus, lung fibrosis, lung mechanics, mechanical probe, microenvironment, mouse, nonhuman, pleura, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering


Uriarte, J. J., Nonaka, P. N., Campillo, N., Palma, R. K., Melo, E., de Oliveira, L. V. F., Navajas, D., Farré, R., (2014). Mechanical properties of acellular mouse lungs after sterilization by gamma irradiation Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials , 40, 168-177

Lung bioengineering using decellularized organ scaffolds is a potential alternative for lung transplantation. Clinical application will require donor scaffold sterilization. As gamma-irradiation is a conventional method for sterilizing tissue preparations for clinical application, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of lung scaffold sterilization by gamma irradiation on the mechanical properties of the acellular lung when subjected to the artificial ventilation maneuvers typical within bioreactors. Twenty-six mouse lungs were decellularized by a sodium dodecyl sulfate detergent protocol. Eight lungs were used as controls and 18 of them were submitted to a 31kGy gamma irradiation sterilization process (9 kept frozen in dry ice and 9 at room temperature). Mechanical properties of acellular lungs were measured before and after irradiation. Lung resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were computed by linear regression fitting of recorded signals during mechanical ventilation (tracheal pressure, flow and volume). Static (Est) and dynamic (Edyn) elastances were obtained by the end-inspiratory occlusion method. After irradiation lungs presented higher values of resistance and elastance than before irradiation: RL increased by 41.1% (room temperature irradiation) and 32.8% (frozen irradiation) and EL increased by 41.8% (room temperature irradiation) and 31.8% (frozen irradiation). Similar increases were induced by irradiation in Est and Edyn. Scanning electron microscopy showed slight structural changes after irradiation, particularly those kept frozen. Sterilization by gamma irradiation at a conventional dose to ensure sterilization modifies acellular lung mechanics, with potential implications for lung bioengineering.

Keywords: Gamma irradiation, Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, Pulmonary mechanics, Decellularization, Gamma irradiation, Mouse lung, Pulmonary mechanics, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, Article, artificial ventilation, bioengineering, bioreactor, compliance (physical), controlled study, freezing, gamma irradiation, lung, lung mechanics, lung resistance, male, mouse, nonhuman, room temperature, scanning electron microscopy, tissue scaffold, trachea pressure


Rajzer, I., Menaszek, E., Kwiatkowski, R., Planell, J. A., Castaño, O., (2014). Electrospun gelatin/poly(ε-caprolactone) fibrous scaffold modified with calcium phosphate for bone tissue engineering Materials Science and Engineering: C 44, 183-190

In this study gelatin (Gel) modified with calcium phosphate nanoparticles (SG5) and polycaprolactone (PCL) were used to prepare a 3D bi-layer scaffold by collecting electrospun PCL and gelatin/SG5 fibers separately in the same collector. The objective of this study was to combine the desired properties of PCL and Gel/SG5 in the same scaffold in order to enhance mineralization, thus improving the ability of the scaffold to bond to the bone tissue. The scanning electron microscopy (SEM), Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and the wide angle X-ray diffraction (WAXD) measurements confirmed that SG5 nanoparticles were successfully incorporated into the fibrous gelatin matrix. The composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold exhibited more enhanced mechanical properties than individual Gel and Gel/SG5 scaffolds. The presence of SG5 nanoparticles accelerated the nucleation and growth of apatite crystals on the surface of the composite Gel/SG5/PCL scaffold in simulated body fluid (SBF). The osteoblast response in vitro to developed electrospun scaffolds (PCL and Gel/SG5/PCL) was investigated by using normal human primary NHOst cell lines. NHOst cell culture studies showed that higher alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and better mineralization were obtained in the case of composite materials than in pure PCL scaffolds. The mechanically strong PCL scaffold served as a skeleton, while the Gel/SG5 fibers facilitated cell spreading and mineralization of the scaffold.

Keywords: Bilayer fibrous scaffold, Ceramic nanoparticles, Electrospinning, Gelatin, Polycaprolactone, Biomechanics, Bone, Calcium phosphate, Cell culture, Electrospinning, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Mechanical properties, Mineralogy, Nanoparticles, Phosphatases, Polycaprolactone, Scanning electron microscopy, X ray diffraction, Polycaprolactone, Alkaline phosphatase activity, Bone tissue engineering, Calcium phosphate nanoparticles, Ceramic nanoparticles, Fibrous scaffolds, Gelatin, Simulated body fluids, Wide-angle x-ray diffraction, Electrospuns, Scaffolds (biology), Electrospinning


Sachot, N., Engel, E., Castaño, O., (2014). Hybrid organic-inorganic scaffolding biomaterials for regenerative therapies Current Organic Chemistry , 18, (18), 2299-2314

The introduction of hybrid materials in regenerative medicine has solved some problems related to the mechanical and bioactive properties of biomaterials. Calcium phosphates and their derivatives have provided the basis for inorganic components, thanks to their good bioactivity, especially in bone regeneration. When mixed with biodegradable polymers, the result is a synergic association that mimics the composition of many tissues of the human body and, additionally, exhibits suitable mechanical properties. Together with the development of nanotechnology and new synthesis methods, hybrids offer a promising option for the development of a third or fourth generation of smart biomaterials and scaffolds to guide the regeneration of natural tissues, with an optimum efficiency/cost ratio. Their potential bioactivity, as well as other valuable features of hybrids, open promising new pathways for their use in bone regeneration and other tissue repair therapies. This review provides a comprehensive overview of the different hybrid organic-inorganic scaffolding biomaterials developed so far for regenerative therapies, especially in bone. It also looks at the potential for research into hybrid materials for other, softer tissues, which is still at an initial stage, but with very promising results.

Keywords: Biodegradable polymer, Hybrid materials, Nanoparticles, Ormoglass


Nonaka, P. N., Uriarte, J. J., Campillo, N., Melo, E., Navajas, D., Farré, R., Oliveira, L. V. F., (2014). Mechanical properties of mouse lungs along organ decellularization by sodium dodecyl sulfate Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology , 200, 1-5

Lung decellularization is based on the use of physical, chemical, or enzymatic methods to break down the integrity of the cells followed by a treatment to extract the cellular material from the lung scaffold. The aim of this study was to characterize the mechanical changes throughout the different steps of lung decellularization process. Four lungs from mice (C57BL/6) were decellularized by using a conventional protocol based on sodium dodecyl sulfate. Lungs resistance (RL) and elastance (EL) were measured along decellularization steps and were computed by linear regression fitting of tracheal pressure, flow, and volume during mechanical ventilation. Transients differences found were more distinct in an intermediate step after the lungs were rinsed with deionized water and treated with 1% SDS, whereupon the percentage of variation reached approximately 80% for resistance values and 30% for elastance values. In conclusion, although a variation in extracellular matrix stiffness was observed during the decellularization process, this variation can be considered negligible overall because the resistance and elastance returned to basal values at the final decellularization step.

Keywords: Lung bioengineering, Lung decellularization, Organ scaffold, dodecyl sulfate sodium, animal tissue, article, artificial ventilation, compliance (physical), controlled study, enzyme chemistry, extracellular matrix, female, flow, lung, lung decellularization, lung pressure, lung resistance, mouse, nonhuman, positive end expiratory pressure, priority journal, rigidity, tissue engineering, trachea pressure


Riggio, C., Nocentini, S., Catalayud, M. P., Goya, G. F., Cuschieri, A., Raffa, V., del Río, J. A., (2013). Generation of magnetized olfactory ensheathing cells for regenerative studies in the central and peripheral nervous tissue International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14, (6), 10852-10868

As olfactory receptor axons grow from the peripheral to the central nervous system (CNS) aided by olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), the transplantation of OECs has been suggested as a plausible therapy for spinal cord lesions. The problem with this hypothesis is that OECs do not represent a single homogeneous entity, but, instead, a functionally heterogeneous population that exhibits a variety of responses, including adhesion and repulsion during cell-matrix interactions. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical gradients. In this paper, we report a system based on modified OECs carrying magnetic nanoparticles as a proof of concept experiment enabling specific studies aimed at exploring the potential of OECs in the treatment of spinal cord injuries. Our studies have confirmed that magnetized OECs (i) survive well without exhibiting stress-associated cellular responses; (ii) in vitro, their migration can be modulated by magnetic fields; and (iii) their transplantation in organotypic slices of spinal cord and peripheral nerve showed positive integration in the model. Altogether, these findings indicate the therapeutic potential of magnetized OECs for CNS injuries.

Keywords: Magnetic nanoparticle, Nerve regeneration, Olfactory ensheathing cell, Organotypic culture


Penon, O., Novo, S., Duran, S., Ibanez, E., Nogues, C., Samitier, J., Duch, M., Plaza, J. A., Perez-Garcia, L., (2012). Efficient biofunctionalization of polysilicon barcodes for adhesion to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (12), 2392-2402

Cell tracking is an emergent area in nano-biotechnology, promising the study of individual cells or the identification of populations of cultured cells. In our approach, microtools designed for extracellular tagging are prepared, because using biofunctionalized polysilicon barcodes to tag cell membranes externally avoids the inconveniences of cell internalization. The crucial covalent biofunctionalization process determining the ultimate functionality was studied in order to find the optimum conditions to link a biomolecule to a polysilicon barcode surface using a self-assembled monolayer (SAM) as the connector. Specifically, a lectin (wheat germ agglutinin, WGA) was used because of its capacity to recognize some specific carbohydrates present on the surface of most mammalian cells. Self-assembled monolayers were prepared on polysilicon surfaces including aldehyde groups as terminal functions to study the suitability of their covalent chemical bonding to WGA. Some parameters, such as the polysilicon surface roughness or the concentration of WGA, proved to be crucial for successful biofunctionalization and bioactivity. The SAMs were characterized by contact angle measurements, time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (TOF-SIMS), laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (LDI-TOF MS), and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The biofunctionalization step was also characterized by fluorescence microscopy and, in the case of barcodes, by adhesion experiments to the zona pellucida of mouse embryos. These experiments showed high barcode retention rates after 96 h of culture as well as high embryo viability to the blastocyst stage, indicating the robustness of the biofunctionalization and, therefore, the potential of these new microtools to be used for cell tagging.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Wheat-germ-agglutinin, Protein immobilization strategies, Mass-spectrometry, Cell-surface, Petide, Binding, Identifications, Nanoparticles, Recognition


Urban, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Diez, C., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2012). Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides Current Drug Targets , 13, (9), 1158-1172

Antimicrobial peptide drugs are increasingly attractive therapeutic agents as their roles in physiopathological processes are being unraveled and because the development of recombinant DNA technology has made them economically affordable in large amounts and high purity. However, due to lack of specificity regarding the target cells, difficulty in attaining them, or reduced half-lives, most current administration methods require high doses. On the other hand, reduced specificity of toxic drugs demands low concentrations to minimize undesirable side-effects, thus incurring the risk of having sublethal amounts which favour the appearance of resistant microbial strains. In this scenario, targeted delivery can fulfill the objective of achieving the intake of total quantities sufficiently low to be innocuous for the patient but that locally are high enough to be lethal for the infectious agent. One of the major advances in recent years has been the size reduction of drug carriers that have dimensions in the nanometer scale and thus are much smaller than -and capable of being internalized by- many types of cells. Among the different types of potential antimicrobial peptide-encapsulating structures reviewed here are liposomes, dendritic polymers, solid core nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, and DNA cages. These nanoparticulate systems can be functionalized with a plethora of biomolecules providing specificity of binding to particular cell types or locations; as examples of these targeting elements we will present antibodies, DNA aptamers, cell-penetrating peptides, and carbohydrates. Multifunctional Trojan horse-like nanovessels can be engineered by choosing the adequate peptide content, encapsulating structure, and targeting moiety for each particular application.

Keywords: Antibodies, Aptamers, Dendrimers, Liposomes, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Nanovectors, Targeting


Levato, Riccardo, Mateos-Timoneda, Miguel A., Planell, Josep A., (2012). Preparation of biodegradable polylactide microparticles via a biocompatible procedure Macromolecular Bioscience 12, (4), 557-566

PLA MPs are prepared via a novel and toxic-chemical-free fabrication route using ethyl lactate, a green solvent and FDA-approved aroma. MPs are obtained by a solution jet break-up and solvent displacement method. Adjusting flow parameters allows the tuning of MPs size between 60 and 180 µm, with reduced polydispersity. Morphological analysis shows microporous particles with Janus-like surface. A fluorophore is successfully loaded into the MPs during their formation step. This versatile green solvent-based procedure is proven to be suitable for drug encapsulation and delivery applications. The method may be extended to different droplet generation techniques.

Keywords: Biocompatibility, Biodegradable, Green solvents, Microparticles, Poly(lactic acid)


Serra, T., Navarro, M., Planell, J. A., (2012). Fabrication and characterization of biodegradable composite scaffolds for tissue engineering Innovative Developments in Virtual and Physical Prototyping 5th International Conference on Advanced Research and Rapid Prototyping (ed. Margarida, T., Ferreira, D.), Taylor & Francis (Leiria, Portugal) VR@P, 67-72

In this study, polylactic acid (PLA) and polyethylene glycol (PEG) were combined with soluble CaP glass particles and processed by rapid prototyping to obtain fully biodegradable structures for Tissue Engineering applications. The obtained 3D biodegradable structures were characterized in terms of their architecture and mechanical properties. The scaffold morphology, internal micro-architecture and mechanical properties were evaluated using Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) and mechanical testing, respectively. Well defined structures with pore size of 350-400μm (in the axial view), struts width of approximately 70-80μm, and a porosity ranging between 60-65% were obtained. The combination RP and PLA/PEG/CaP glass turned into promising fully degradable, mechanically stable, bioactive and biocompatible composite scaffolds for TE.

Keywords: Axial view, Biodegradable composites, Composite scaffolds, Glass particles, Mechanically stable, Micro architectures, Micro computed tomography (micro-CT), Poly lactic acid, Scaffold morphology, Tissue engineering applications, Well-defined structures, Bioactive glass, Mechanical properties, Mechanical testing, Polyethylene glycols, Polymer blends, Rapid prototyping, Scaffolds (biology), Scanning electron microscopy, Computerized tomography


Valle-Delgado, J. J., Molina-Bolívar, J. A., Galisteo-González, F., Gálvez-Ruiz, M. J., (2011). Evidence of hydration forces between proteins Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science , 16, (6), 572-578

Proteins are fundamental molecules in biology that are also involved in a wide range of industrial and biotechnological processes. Consequently, many works in the literature have been devoted to the study of protein-protein and protein-surface interactions in aqueous solutions. The results have been usually interpreted within the frame of the classical Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory for colloidal systems. However, against the DLVO predictions, striking evidence of repulsive forces between proteins at high salt concentrations has been observed in different works based on the analysis of the second virial coefficient or on the direct measurement of protein interaction with an atomic force microscope. Hydration forces due to the adsorption of hydrated cations onto the negatively charged protein surfaces have been invoked to rationalize this anomalous repulsion. The hydration forces between proteins provide protein-covered particles with a non-DLVO colloidal stability at high salt concentrations, as different studies in the literature has proven. This review summarizes the most relevant results published so far on the presence of hydration forces between proteins and protein-coated colloidal particles.

Keywords: Colloidal particles, Colloidal stability, Hydrated ions, Hydration forces, Proteins


Ivon Rodriguez-Villarreal, Angeles, Tarn, Mark D., Madden, Leigh A., Lutz, Julia B., Greenman, John, Samitier, Josep, Pamme, Nicole, (2011). Flow focussing of particles and cells based on their intrinsic properties using a simple diamagnetic repulsion setup Lab on a Chip 11, (7), 1240-1248

The continuous flow focussing and manipulation of particles and cells are important factors in microfluidic applications for performing accurate and reproducible procedures downstream. Many particle focussing methods require complex setups or channel designs that can limit the process and its applications. Here, we present diamagnetic repulsion as a simple means of focussing objects in continuous flow, based only on their intrinsic properties without the requirement of any label. Diamagnetic polystyrene particles were suspended in a paramagnetic medium and pumped through a capillary between a pair of permanent magnets, whereupon the particles were repelled by each magnet into the central axis of the capillary, thus achieving focussing. By investigating this effect, we found that the focussing was greatly enhanced with (i) increased magnetic susceptibility of the medium, (ii) reduced flow rate of the suspension, (iii) increased particle size, and (iv) increased residence time in the magnetic field. Furthermore, we applied diamagnetic repulsion to the flow focussing of living, label-free HaCaT cells.

Keywords: Feeble magnetic substances, On-chip, Blood-cells, Microfluidic device, Separation, Field, Levitation, Magnetophoresis, Fractionation, Nanoparticles


Kodippili, G. C., Spector, J., Kang, G. E., Liu, H., Wickrema, A., Ritchie, K., Low, P. S., (2010). Analysis of the kinetics of band 3 diffusion in human erythroblasts during assembly of the erythrocyte membrane skeleton British Journal of Haematology , 150, (5), 592-600

Summary During definitive erythropoiesis, erythroid precursors undergo differentiation through multiple nucleated states to an enucleated reticulocyte, which loses its residual RNA/organelles to become a mature erythrocyte. Over the course of these transformations, continuous changes in membrane proteins occur, including shifts in protein abundance, rates of expression, isoform prominence, states of phosphorylation, and stability. In an effort to understand when assembly of membrane proteins into an architecture characteristic of the mature erythrocyte occurs, we quantitated the lateral diffusion of the most abundant membrane protein, band 3 (AE1), during each stage of erythropoiesis using single particle tracking. Analysis of the lateral trajectories of individual band 3 molecules revealed a gradual reduction in mobility of the anion transporter as erythroblasts differentiated. Evidence for this progressive immobilization included a gradual decline in diffusion coefficients as determined at a video acquisition rate of 120 frames/s and a decrease in the percentage of compartment sizes >100 nm. Because complete acquisition of the properties of band 3 seen in mature erythrocytes is not observed until circulating erythrocytes are formed, we suggest that membrane maturation involves a gradual and cooperative assembly process that is not triggered by the synthesis of any single protein.

Keywords: Band 3 diffusion, Erythrocyte, Progenitor cells, Single particle tracking, Streptavidin quantum dot


Toset, J., Gomila, G., (2010). Three-dimensional manipulation of gold nanoparticles with electro-enhanced capillary forces Applied Physics Letters , 96, (4), 043117

We demonstrate the possibility to manipulate 25 nm radius gold nanoparticles in the three spatial dimensions with an atomic force microscope with the use of electroenhanced capillary forces. We show that an enhanced water-bridge can be electrostatically induced between a conducting probe and a metallic nanoparticle by the application of a voltage pulse, which is able to exert a pulling capillary force on the nanoparticle strong enough to detach it from the substrate. The nanoparticle can then be moved, attached to the probe, and placed back to the desired location on the substrate simply by contacting it.

Keywords: Atomic force microscopy, Capillarity, Gold, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology


Fernandez, Javier G., Mills, C. A., Samitier, J., (2009). Complex microstructured 3D surfaces using chitosan biopolymer Small 5, (5), 614-620

A technique for producing micrometer-scale structures over large, nonplanar chitosan surfaces is described. The technique makes use of the rheological characteristics (deformability) of the chitosan to create freestanding, three-dimensional scaffolds with controlled shapes, incorporating defined microtopography. The results of an investigation into the technical limits of molding different combinations of shapes and microtopographies are presented, highlighting the versatility of the technique when used irrespectively with inorganic or delicate organic moulds. The final, replicated scaffolds presented here are patterned with arrays of one-micrometer-tall microstructures over large areas. Structural integrity is characterized by the measurement of structural degradation. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells cultured on a tubular scaffold show that early cell growth is conditioned by the microtopography and indicate possible uses for the structures in biomedical applications. For those applications requiring improved chemical and mechanical resistance, the structures can be replicated in poly(dimethyl siloxane).

Keywords: Biocompatible Materials/ chemistry, Cell Adhesion, Cell Culture Techniques/ methods, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Chitosan/ chemistry, Crystallization/methods, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, Humans, Materials Testing, Nanostructures/ chemistry/ ultrastructure, Nanotechnology/methods, Particle Size, Surface Properties, Tissue Engineering/methods


Arteaga, O., Escudero, C., Oncins, G., El-Hachemic, Z., Llorens, J., Crusats, J., Canillas, A., Ribo, J. M., (2009). Reversible mechanical induction of optical activity in solutions of soft-matter nanophases Chemistry - An Asian Journal , 4, (11), 1687-1696

Nanophases of J-aggregates of several achiral amphiphilic porphyrins, which have thin long acicular shapes (nanoribbons), show the immediate and reversible formation of a stationary mechano-chiral state in the solution by vortex stirring, as detected by their circular dichroic signals measured by 2-modulator generallized ellipsometry. The results suggest that when a macroscopic chiral force creates supramolecular chirality, it also creates an enantiomeric excess of screw distortions, which may be detected by their excitonic absorption. An explanation on the effect of the shear flow gradients is proposed on the basis of the orientation of the rotating particles in the vortex and the size, shape, and mechanical properties of the nanoparticles.

Keywords: Chirality, Circular dichroism, Nanoparticles, Selfassembly, Supramolecular chemistry


Engel, E., Michiardi, A., Navarro, M., Lacroix, D., Planell, J. A., (2008). Nanotechnology in regenerative medicine: the materials side Trends in Biotechnology , 26, (1), 39-47

Regenerative medicine is an emerging multidisciplinary field that aims to restore, maintain or enhance tissues and hence organ functions. Regeneration of tissues can be achieved by the combination of living cells, which will provide biological functionality, and materials, which act as scaffolds to support cell proliferation. Mammalian cells behave in vivo in response to the biological signals they receive from the surrounding environment, which is structured by nanometre-scaled components. Therefore, materials used in repairing the human body have to reproduce the correct signals that guide the cells towards a desirable behaviour. Nanotechnology is not only an excellent tool to produce material structures that mimic the biological ones but also holds the promise of providing efficient delivery systems. The application of nanotechnology to regenerative medicine is a wide issue and this short review will only focus on aspects of nanotechnology relevant to biomaterials science. Specifically, the fabrication of materials, such as nanoparticles and scaffolds for tissue engineering, and the nanopatterning of surfaces aimed at eliciting specific biological responses from the host tissue will be addressed.

Keywords: Animals, Biocompatible Materials/ metabolism, Humans, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology/ methods, Regenerative Medicine/ methods, Tissue Scaffolds


Olmedo, Ivonne, Araya, Eyleen, Sanz, Fausto, Medina, Elias, Arbiol, Jordi, Toledo, Pedro, Àlvarez-Lueje, Alejandro, Giralt, Ernest, Kogan, Marcelo J., (2008). How changes in the sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 can modify the conjugation and stability of gold nanoparticles and their affinity for beta-amyloid fibrils Bioconjugate Chemistry , 19, (6), 1154-1163

In a previous work, we studied the interaction of β-amyloid fibrils (Aβ) with gold nanoparticles (AuNP) conjugated with the peptide CLPFFD-NH2. Here, we studied the effect of changing the residue sequence of the peptide CLPFFD-NH2 on the efficiency of conjugation to AuNP, the stability of the conjugates, and the affinity of the conjugates to the Aβ fibrils. We conjugated the AuNP with CLPFFD-NH2 isomeric peptides (CDLPFF-NH2 and CLPDFF-NH2) and characterized the resulting conjugates with different techniques including UV−Vis, TEM, EELS, XPS, analysis of amino acids, agarose gel electrophoresis, and CD. In addition, we determined the proportion of AuNP bonded to the Aβ fibrils by ICP-MS. AuNP-CLPFFD-NH2 was the most stable of the conjugates and presented more affinity for Aβ fibrils with respect to the other conjugates and bare AuNP. These findings help to better understand the way peptide sequences affect conjugation and stability of AuNP and their interaction with Aβ fibrils. The peptide sequence, the steric effects, and the charge and disposition of hydrophilic and hydrophobic residues are crucial parameters when considering the design of AuNP peptide conjugates for biomedical applications.

Keywords: Self-assembled monolayers, Aggregation, Dispersions, Adsorption, Particles, Design, Size