The Biosensors for bioengineering group is a junior group under IBEC’s Tenure Track scheme.
Our research is focused on multi tissues organs-on-a-chip (OOC) and more specifically in the metabolic crosstalk within tissues and their relationship with metabolic diseases. Our projects are focused on four key tissues regulating glucose homeostasis, namely, the pancreas, liver, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue. To achieve this objective, it is necessary a combined interdisciplinary approach.
Biomaterials and tissue engineering research
1) We have several lines of research related with skeletal muscle. Our first approach was with C2C12 mice cell line. We evaluated the influence of mechanical stiffness and geometrical confinement on the 3D culture of myoblast-laden chemically modified gelatin photo-cross linkable composite hydrogels in terms of in vitro myogenesis.
2) Encapsulation of beta-cells like from human skin fibroblast (collaboration with IDIBAPS). This work addresses two critical issues in the design of an efficient beta-cell replacement therapy: an accessible cell source for generation of substitute beta-cells and an adequate delivery device for transplantation. On one hand, we propose to generate transplantable functional insulin-producing beta-cells from fibroblasts through direct reprogramming strategies that bypass the pluripotent iPS stage. On a second objective, we are working in a new system of encapsulating beta-cells like in two steps, microencapsulation to protect cells from immune system and microencapsulation to mechanically protect them and manipulate them.
3) We are developing three-dimensional micro liver models using various biomaterials to recreate the in vivo-like mechanical properties and using hepatocytes and stellate cells. We are collaborating with Grifols company to test some drugs in our model.
4) We have a collaboration project with NovoNordisk to work in new approaches to encapsulate retinal cells.
1) Integrating biosensors in an organ-on-a-chip. We are studying with in situ electrochemical biosensors the release of insulin under the effect of external stimuli, changes in glucose levels and myokines secreted by skeletal muscle (multi-OOC approach).
2) Related with this project we are implementing new biosensors systems. To fully exploit the potential of the organs-on-a-chip, there is a need to interface them to integrated sensing modules, capable to monitor in real-time their biochemical response to external stimuli, like stress or drugs. The goal of this project is to answer this need, by developing a novel technology based on integrating localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensing module to organs-on-a-chip devices to monitor disease and evaluate drug response in organs-on-a-chip models.
3) Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) (collaboration with Hospital de la Fe and INCLIVA, Valencia, Spain). We have developed human skeletal muscle micro physiological tissues using micro molding technology and we have integrated them with amperometric biosensors to study the inflammatory process related with electrical and chemical stimuli. We have used transdifferentiated skin fibroblast human cells from DM1 patients and healthy human. Using this platform, we have started to evaluate different treatments, to screen drugs and to evaluate doses.
4) NMR integrated with OOC. The objective of this project is to develop a new technology based on magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging using dynamic nuclear polarisation (DNP-MR) integrated with OOC devices to monitor disease and evaluate drug response in OOC models. As a proof-of-concept, this project will fabricate a biomimetic multi OOC integrated device composed of liver spheroids and pancreatic islets and develop the necessary DNP-MR hardware and software to study metabolic diseases and for future drug screening applications. We are working in collaboration with Oxford instrument and Multiwave companies.
Javier Ramón Azcón
|Development of a “Muscle-on-a-Chip” (MoC) platform for the preclinical evaluation of potential therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (2020-2022)||DUCHENNE ESPAÑA, IV Convocatoria Ayudas a Proyectos de Investigación||Juanma Fernandez|
|BLAD · BioLiver Assist Device (2020-2021)||AGAUR, Ajuts per a projectes innovadors amb potencial d’incorporació al sector productiu – LLAVOR||Javier Ramón|
|INNOTEC- Javier Ramon- Naturfiltr (2021-2023)||TECNIO||Javier Ramón|
|ASITOC Atomic-Sensor-Integrated Tissue-On-a-Chip: optically detected biomagnetism to understand muscular diseases (2021-2022)||BIST_Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology||Juanma Fernandez|
|DAMOC · ‘Diabetes Approach by Multi-Organ-on-a-Chip’ (2017-2022)||ERC||Javier Ramón|
|BLOC · Benchtop NMR for Lab-on-Chip (2020-2022)||European Comission FET-Open||Javier Ramón|
|PRIVATELY FUNDED PROJECTS||FINANCER||PI|
|Tatami · Therapeutic targeting of MBNL microRNAs as innovative treatments for myotonic dystrophy (2019-2022)||Fundació bancaria “La Caixa”||Javier Ramón|
|Programa Faster Future 2020: COVID-19 (2021)||Fundraising||Javier Ramón|
|INDUCT · Fabrication of a biomimetic in vitro model of the intestinal tube muscle wall: smooth muscle-on-a-chip (2018-2020)||MINECO||Javier Ramón|
(See full publication list in ORCID)
Micro and nanofabrication techniques:
- 3D microstructures on hydrogel materials
- Mini-bioreactor for 3D cell culture
- Microelectrodes fabrication
- Synthesis and chemical modification of polymers and surfaces
- Dielectrophoretic cells and micro particles manipulation
- Optical Microscopes (white light/epifluorescence)
- Electrochemical techniques (Potentiometric/Amperometric/Impedance spectroscopy)
- Immunosensing techniques (Fluorescence ELISA/Colorimetric ELISA/magneto ELISA)
- Microfluidic systems (High precision syringe pumps/Peristaltic pumps/Micro valves)
- Biological safety cabinet (class II)
- Epifluorescence microscope for live-cell imaging
- Pulsar – a high-resolution, 60MHz benchtop NMR spectrometer from Oxford Instruments
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), organic structures characterization (NMR) and microscopy techniques (SEM, TEM, confocal)
- Prof. Josep Samitier
- Dr. Elena Martinez
- Dr. Anna Novials
Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS)
- Dr. Ramon Gomís
Institut d’Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS)
- Dr. Eduard Montanya
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL)
- Prof. Enric Bertran
Physics and Engineering of Amorphous Materials and Nanostructures (FEMAN), Department of Applied Physics, University of Barcelona
- Dr. Montserrat Costa
2020, Director Plasma Proteins Research, Bioscience Industrial Group, Grifols, Barcelona Spain, Collaborative project
- Tryfon Antonakakis
2019, Co-Founder & CEO Multiwave Technologies AG 3 Chemin du Pré Fleuri 1228, Geneva Switzerland, FET-open project
- Robert Hardy
2019, Project Manager Oxford Instruments plc Abingdon, Oxfordshire, England, FET-open project
- Dr. Carlos Villaescusa
2018, Principal Scientist/Specialist, Project Leader, Department of Stem Cell Discovery, Novo Nordisk Denmark, Collaborative project
- Project “TATAMI” funded by Fundación Bancaria “La Caixa” – CaixaHealth program. In this project, we are developing a platform to perform drug screening analysis in human engineered microtissues in close collaboration with Professor Ruben Artero from Instituto de Investigaciones Clínicas de Valencia (INCLIVA) and medical doctor Vilchez from Hospital de la Fe (Valencia)
- We are also collaborating with Hospital de Sant Pau (Barcelona), with the group of senior professor Isabel Illa Sendra we are developing human microtissues to study the myasthenia gravis neuromuscular rare disease.
- In a Smart Specialization Project (RIS3CAT, ADVANCECAT project), I am working with senior professor Eduard Montanya from Hospital de Bellvitge (Barcelona) to develop transplantable patches of human pancreatic islets.
- Finally, we are collaborating with Doctor Jesus Castro from Hospital de la Vall de Hebron (Barcelona) to study chronic fatigue.
A project led by Elisabeth Engel aimed to fabricate and test a dressing prototype for wound healing, and another project led by Javier Ramón with the goal of developing an artificial liver, have been granted by the Knowledge Industry Programme of the Catalan Government.
The Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) launches the Faster Future “A por la COVID19” campaign, with the aim of raising the 100.000€ needed to accelerate three research projects in collaboration with hospitals and patients associations.
From 31st October until 7th November participants from different fields and nationalities participated in the 3rd edition of the Innovation Day (i-Day), a series of events organised by EIT Health in partnership with local research and health institutions.
Several researchers from IBEC have been awarded for their quality in spreading the word of bioengineering. From scientific talks, to videos and posters, IBEC scientists and engineers show their talent inside, but also, outside the lab.
Researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) have developed an innovative scaffold that allows muscle tissues growth at the millimetre scale in the laboratory. This technology opens the door to potential applications in fields such as organ transplantation and engineering, drug screening and disease modelling.
Javier Ramón, Group Leader of the “Biosensors for Bioengineering” group at IBEC, has been appointed new Research Professor at the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies, ICREA. Currently IBEC hosts 8 ICREA Professors out of 22 group leaders. Since last April 1, Dr. Javier Ramón, Group Leader at IBEC, has become part of the ICREA Research Professors community. ICREA is a foundation funded by the Catalan Government aimed at recruiting the most extraordinary and talented international scientific researchers. With this appointment, IBEC hosts 8 ICREA Professors and 2 ICREA Academia (UB affiliated professors), one of the highest numbers among all research centres in Catalonia.
A group of researchers from the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) leads the European project BLOC, an initiative led by researchers Javier Ramón and Irene Marco that seeks to evaluate the response to different drugs in metabolic diseases using organ-in-a- chip by using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). For this, the consortium will have a budget of almost 3 million euros, financed by the Horizon 2020 FET Open program.
Irene Marco explains at BigVan, the scientific section of La Vanguardia journal, how thanks to microfluidics and research based on the use of “organ-on-a-chip” devices, we can go a step forward towards personalized medicine.
IBEC presents its capabilities in 3D bioprinting and in other industrial areas at the fourth INDUSTRY edition
During the 29th to 31st of October, IBEC participated in the fourth edition of “INDUSTRY: From Needs to Solutions”, the international meeting dedicated to 3D printing, and also the HELTHIO Days where Josep Samitier moderated the round table on 3D printing applications in healthcare. In its fourth edition, IN(3D)USTRY becomes INDUSTRY to include more industrial sectors, the main goal is to cover the entire value chain and provide intelligent manufacturing solutions. The institute had a stand in the exhibition area, where the representatives of the IBEC Technology Transfer office welcomed the interested visitors to learn more about the 3D bioprinting capabilities of IBEC.
Researchers at IBEC develop a bioengineering platform to detect pro-inflammatory molecules in muscular disorders
The Biosensors for bioengineering group led by Javier Ramón has developed a sensing platform for the in-situ detection of tissue-secreted pro-inflammatory molecules, the so-called cytokines. This new methodology opens a new door in the understanding of metabolic-disorders such those found in muscular diseases, as well as the development of drug-screening applications. Although 40% of total body mass is skeletal muscle tissue, there is no specialized clinical doctor for the treatment of muscular diseases, according to the American Medical Association. The research group of Dr. Javier Ramón at IBEC works to fill this gap between muscle disorders and ad hoc therapies.