The “Biomimetic Systems for Cell Engineering” group is a multidisciplinary research group focussing its research activities on the development and application of new artificial systems that mimic tissue micro and nanofeatures for biomimetic in vitro assays.
The use of more biomimetic and complex 3D models in in vitro assays is now a hot and extremely relevant topic.
“Flat biology” results are questioned when being transferred to in vivo, while the pressure to decrease animal testing continues increasing. As a group of engineering providers working in the biotechnological field, we see these issues as both a challenge and a clear opportunity to impact the field with novel technological solutions. Our research ambition will be to develop better engineering tools to help in the development of organotypic cell culture models, easy to implement in daily cell culture routines, so they have a real and meaningful impact in the biotechnological arena and, therefore, will impact applications in basic cell research, disease modelling and regenerative medicine.
Along with this line, we are working towards the following objectives: (i) to engineer and validate a complex in vitro model of small intestinal epithelium, (ii) to validate a novel in vitro model of engineered cardiac tissue and (iii) to engineer a novel vessel-on-chip to reproduce the tumor metastatic environment. To carry out our research we employ cutting edge biofabrication technologies such as bioprinting and novel biological tools such as organoids.
Elena Martínez Fraiz
|GUT3D-PLATE · Ready-to-use cell culture plates for gut 3D models (2020-2022)||European Commission, ERC-PoC||Elena Martínez|
|COMIET · Engineering Complex Intestinal Epithelial Tissue Models (2015-2022)||ERC Consolidator Grant||Elena Martínez|
|BRIGHTER · BIOPRINTING BY LIGHT-SHEET LITHOGRAPHY (2019-2023)||European Commission FET Open||Elena Martínez|
|PRIVATELY FUNDED PROJECTS||FINANCER||PI|
|PROMISE · BioPrinted hydROgel MicrofluIdicS to mimic patient-specific tumor mEtastatic microenvironment (2020-2023)||Obra Social La Caixa, Health Research Call for Proposals||Elena Martínez|
|ENGUT · Engineered models of intestinal epithelial tissue: assessing in vivo-like functional properties (2019-2020)||Bist Ignite Program||Elena Martínez|
|INDUCT Dispositivo de multitejido intestinal para la monitorización de la comunicación entre epitelio y músculo en condiciones patológicas (2018-2020)||MINECO||Elena Martínez|
|COMIET Engineering Complex Intestinal Epithelial Tissue Models (2015-2020)||ERC Consolidator Grant||Elena Martínez|
|GLAM Glass-Laser Multiplexed Biosensor (2015-2019)||European Commission (H2020) – PHC-10-2015||Elena Martínez|
|MINAHE5 (Bio)funcionalización de Micro- y NanoHerramientas en Suspensión para Aplicaciones en Células Vivas (2015-2017)||MINECO||Maria Lluïsa Pérez|
Micro and nanofabrication techniques:
- Biomolecule gradients produced by microfluidics
- Large-area nanostructured polymer surfaces produced by diblock copolymers
- 3D microstructures on hydrogel materials
- Mini-bioreactor for 3D cell culture
- Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) measurements on polymer materials
- Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) expertise
- Optical Microscopes (white light/epifluorescence)
- Focused Ion Beam (FIB) / Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) of biological specimens
- Biological safety cabinet (class II)
- High precision syringe pumps
- Peristaltic pumps
- Access to the Nanotechnology Platform (IBEC Core Facilities): equipment for hot embossing lithography, polymer processing and photolithography, chemical wet etching, e-beam evaporation and surface characterization (TOF-SIMS)
- Access to the Scientific and Technological Centers (University of Barcelona): equipment for surface analysis (XPS, AFM, XRD) and microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM, confocal)
- PRUSA i3MK3S (FDM printer)
- Phrozen Shuffle XL (DLP-SLA printer)
- SOLUS (DLP-SLA printer)
- Prof. Ángel Raya / Dr. Samuel Ojosnegros
Center of Regenerative Medicine in Barcelona (CMRB), Barcelona
- Prof. Eduard Batlle
Institut de Recerca Biomédica (IRB), Barcelona
- Prof. Pablo Loza
Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO), Castelldefels (Spain)
- Dr. Javier Ramón, IBEC
- Dr. Elisabeth Engel, IBEC
- Prof. Raimon Jané, IBEC
- Prof. Josep Samitier, IBEC
- Prof. Javier Santos, Dra. Maria Vicario
VHIR, Barcelona (Spain)
- Dr. Bruno Sarmento
i3S – Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde, Porto, Portugal
- Dr. Sonia García-Blanco
University of Twente, Enschede (The Netherlands)
- Dr. Fabio Variola
University of Ottawa (Canada)
- Dr. Daniel Riveline
ISIS/IGBMC, Strasbourg (France)
- Dr. Matthew Dalby
University of Glasgow (UK)
- Prof. Jordi Martorell
Institut de Ciències Fotòniques (ICFO), Castelldefels (Spain)
- Prof. José Antonio Plaza
- Dr. Francesc Mitjans
- Francesco Pampaloni
Buchmann Institute for Molecular Life Sciences (Frankfurt)
- Dra. Elena Élez
IBEC’s Biomimetic Systems for Cell Engineering group has published a review about possible new strategies to study drug absorption in the intestine in the high-ranking journal Trends in Molecular Medicine. Together with their collaborators at the Universidade do Porto, Elena Martinez’s group examines the current state-of-the-art of cell-based intestinal models, which have been used for drug absorption and metabolism studies since the 1980s. However, current models, which use Caco-2 cells derived from human intestinal tumors, are not fully representative of the human small intestine.
A ‘Results in Brief’ article about Elena Martinez’s ERC project COMIET has been published on the CORDIS website, the EC’s Community Research and Development Information Service.
IBEC group leaders Pere Roca-Cusachs and Elena Martinez featured in an article in Ara magazine at the weekend that discussed how understanding mechanical forces and their effect on cellular processes can open new avenues in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as cancer.
New insights into the intercellular communications mechanism that regulates cell repositioning leads the way towards the development of targeted therapies in regenerative medicine Understanding the language of cells in order to redirect them when necessary: this is one possibility unveiled by researchers at the Center for Regenerative Medicine of Barcelona (CMR[B]), led by Dr. Samuel Ojosnegros, who describe in their latest paper the intercellular communications mechanism involved in cell relocation. The work, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), was carried out in collaboration with the groups of Elena Martínez (IBEC) and Melike Lakadamyali (ICFO), among others. The fruitful collaboration also gave rise to the publication of work by Verónica Hortigüela, former PhD student in Elena’s group, who bioengineered a nanopatterning strategy that provides control over this communication mechanism.