Publications

Year 2021


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Arboleda A, Amado L, Rodriguez J, Naranjo F, Giraldo BF, (2021). A new protocol to compare successful versus failed patients using the electromyographic diaphragm signal in extubation process Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference , 5646-5649

In clinical practice, when a patient is undergoing mechanical ventilation, it is important to identify the optimal moment for extubation, minimizing the risk of failure. However, this prediction remains a challenge in the clinical process. In this work, we propose a new protocol to study the extubation process, including the electromyographic diaphragm signal (diaEMG) recorded through 5-channels with surface electrodes around the diaphragm muscle. First channel corresponds to the electrode on the right. A total of 40 patients in process of withdrawal of mechanical ventilation, undergoing spontaneous breathing tests (SBT), were studied. According to the outcome of the SBT, the patients were classified into two groups: successful (SG: 19 patients) and failure (FG: 21 patients) groups. Parameters extracted from the envelope of each channel of diaEMG in time and frequency domain were studied. After analyzing all channels, the second presented maximum differences when comparing the two groups of patients, with parameters related to root mean square (p = 0.005), moving average (p = 0.001), and upward slope (p = 0.017). The third channel also presented maximum differences in parameters as the time between maximum peak (p = 0.004), and the skewness (p = 0.027). These results suggest that diaphragm EMG signal could contribute to increase the knowledge of the behaviour of respiratory system in these patients and improve the extubation process.Clinical Relevance - This establishes the characterization of success and failure patients in the extubation process. © 2021 IEEE.

Keywords: Airway extubation, Artificial ventilation, Clinical practices, Clinical process, Diaphragm, Diaphragm muscle, Diaphragms, Electrodes, Electromyographic, Extubation, Frequency domain analysis, Human, Humans, Maximum differences, Mechanical ventilation, New protocol, Respiration, artificial, Respiratory system, Risk of failure, Spontaneous breathing, Surface electrode, Thorax, Ventilation, Ventilator weaning


De la Torre Costa J, Ballester BR, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). A Rehabilitation Wearable Device to Overcome Post-stroke Learned Non-use. Methodology, Design and Usability Communications In Computer And Information Science 1538 CCIS, 198-205

After a stroke, a great number of patients experience persistent motor impairments such as hemiparesis or weakness in one entire side of the body. As a result, the lack of use of the paretic limb might be one of the main contributors to functional loss after clinical discharge. We aim to reverse this cycle by promoting the use of the paretic limb during activities of daily living (ADLs). To do so, we describe the key components of a system composed of a wearable bracelet (i.e., a smartwatch) and a mobile phone, designed to bring a set of neurorehabilitation principles that promote acquisition, retention and generalization of skills to the home of the patient. A fundamental question is whether the loss in motor function derived from learned–non–use may emerge as a consequence of decision–making processes for motor optimization. Our system is based on well-established rehabilitation strategies that aim to reverse this behaviour by increasing the reward associated with action execution and implicitly reducing the expected cost of using the paretic limb, following the notion of reinforcement–induced movement therapy (RIMT). Here we validate an accelerometer-based measure of arm use and its capacity to discriminate different activities that require increasing movement of the arm. The usability and acceptance of the device as a rehabilitation tool is tested using a battery of self–reported and objective measurements obtained from acute/subacute patients and healthy controls. We believe that an extension of these technologies will allow for the deployment of unsupervised rehabilitation paradigms during and beyond hospitalization time. © 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.

Keywords: Activities of daily living, Adls, Functional loss, Generalisation, Hemiparesis, Learned non-use, Motor impairments, Neurorehabilitation [], Patient experiences, Stroke, Wearable devices, Wearable technology, Wearables


Veronika Magdanz, Arnau Llobera, Judith Fuentes, Dalia Mahdy, Islam S. M. Khalil, Maria Guix, Samuel Sanchez, (2021). 3D printed magnet robots for cell delivery with tuned flexibility 25th International Conference On Miniaturized Systems For Chemistry And Life Sciences, µTas 2021 ,

Magnetically actuated microrobots have the potential to make medical operations less invasive, more precise and remotely controlled. Therefore, they are promising for many applications such as targeted therapy or minimally invasive surgeries. Current challenges in the field of magnetic microrobotics include efficient propulsion and biocompatibility. This article addresses both of these aspects and aims to optimize the flexibility of a soft magnetic swimmer by tuning its material properties, define different magnetic segments and investigate its biocompatibility and potential as cell delivery machine.

Keywords: 3d printing, Elastómeros, Sensores remotos


Rodriguez J, Schulz S, Voss A, Giraldo BF, (2021). Classification of ischemic and dilated cardiomyopathy patients based on the analysis of the pulse transit time Conference Proceedings : ... Annual International Conference Of The Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Ieee Engineering In Medicine And Biology Society. Conference , 5527-5530

Cardiomyopathies diseases affects a great number of the elderly population. An adequate identification of the etiology of a cardiomyopathy patient is still a challenge. The aim of this study was to classify patients by their etiology in function of indexes extracted from the characterization of the pulse transit time (PTT). This time series represents the time taken by the pulse pressure to propagate through the length of the arterial tree and corresponding to the time between R peak of ECG and the mid-point of the diastolic to systolic slope in the blood pressure signal. For each patient, the PTT time series was extracted. Thirty cardiomyopathy patients (CMP) classified as ischemic (ICM - 15 patients) and dilated (DCM - 15 patients) were analyzed. Forty-three healthy subjects (CON) were used as a reference. The PTT time series was characterized through statistical descriptive indices and the joint symbolic dynamics method. The best indices were used to build support vector machine models. The optimal model to classify ICM versus DCM patients achieved 89.6% accuracy, 78.5% sensitivity, and 100% specificity. When comparing CMP patients and CON subjects, the best model achieved 91.3% accuracy, 91.3% sensitivity, and 88.3% specificity. Our results suggests a significantly lower pulse transit time in ischemic patients.Clinical relevance - This study analyzed the suitability of the pulse transit time for the classification of ICM and DCM patients. © 2021 IEEE.

Keywords: Aged, Blood pressure, Cardiomyopathies, Cardiomyopathy, Cardiomyopathy, dilated, Congestive cardiomyopathy, Human, Humans, Pulse wave, Pulse wave analysis, Support vector machine


Tas, B, Kalk, NJ, Cho, PSP, Lozano-Garcia, M, Rafferty, GF, Kelleher, M, Moxham, J, Strang, J, Jolley, CJ, (2021). Respiratory depression in opioid dependent chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients Thorax 76, A113-A114

Maiti, B, Nandi, M, Bonardd, S, Franco, L, Puiggali, J, Enshaei, H, Aleman, C, Diaz, DD, (2021). Efficient One-Pot Preparation of Thermoresponsive Polyurethanes with Lower Critical Solution Temperatures ChemPlusChem 86, 1570-1576

This work reports a simple and scalable strategy to prepare a series of thermoresponsive polyurethanes synthesized via copolymerization of dicyclohexyl diisocyanate with glycerol ethoxylate in a single one-pot system. These polyurethanes exhibit lower critical solution temperatures (LCST) at 57 degrees C. The LCST of synthesized polyurethane was determined from Dynamic Scanning Calorimetry and UV-vis measurements. Both the LCST and T-g of synthesized polyurethane was tuned by varying the ratio between hard segment (dicyclohexyl diisocyanate) and soft segment (glycerol ethoxylate). Thus, T-g values could be tuned from -54.6 degrees C to -19.9 degrees C for samples with different flexibility. The swelling and deswelling studies were done at room temperature and above the LCST respectively. The results showed that the swelling ratio increases with the increase of soft segment (glycerol ethoxylate) in synthesized polyurethanes. Furthermore, the mechanical properties of the membrane were studied by universal tensile testing measurements. Specifically, stress at break values varied from 0.35 +/- 0.07 MPa to 0.91 +/- 0.15 MPa for the tested membranes, whereas elongation at break data ranged from 101.9 +/- 20.9 % to 192.4 +/- 24.4 %, and Young's modulus varied from 0.35 +/- 0.03 MPa to 1.85 +/- 0.19 MPa. Tensile strength of the films increased with the increase of the hard segment and elongation at break decreased.

Keywords: copolymerization, critical solution temperatures, polyurethanes, tensile strength, Biodegradable polyurethanes, Copolymerization, Critical solution temperatures, Glycol), Polymers, Polyurethanes, Solvent-free, Tensile strength, Thermoresponsive materials


Ballester, BR, Antenucci, F, Maier, M, Coolen, ACC, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). Estimating upper-extremity function from kinematics in stroke patients following goal-oriented computer-based training Journal Of Neuroengineering And Rehabilitation 18,

Introduction: After a stroke, a wide range of deficits can occur with varying onset latencies. As a result, assessing impairment and recovery are enormous challenges in neurorehabilitation. Although several clinical scales are generally accepted, they are time-consuming, show high inter-rater variability, have low ecological validity, and are vulnerable to biases introduced by compensatory movements and action modifications. Alternative methods need to be developed for efficient and objective assessment. In this study, we explore the potential of computer-based body tracking systems and classification tools to estimate the motor impairment of the more affected arm in stroke patients. Methods: We present a method for estimating clinical scores from movement parameters that are extracted from kinematic data recorded during unsupervised computer-based rehabilitation sessions. We identify a number of kinematic descriptors that characterise the patients' hemiparesis (e.g., movement smoothness, work area), we implement a double-noise model and perform a multivariate regression using clinical data from 98 stroke patients who completed a total of 191 sessions with RGS. Results: Our results reveal a new digital biomarker of arm function, the Total Goal-Directed Movement (TGDM), which relates to the patients work area during the execution of goal-oriented reaching movements. The model's performance to estimate FM-UE scores reaches an accuracy of R-2: 0.38 with an error (sigma: 12.8). Next, we evaluate its reliability (r = 0.89 for test-retest), longitudinal external validity (95% true positive rate), sensitivity, and generalisation to other tasks that involve planar reaching movements (R-2: 0.39). The model achieves comparable accuracy also for the Chedoke Arm and Hand Activity Inventory (R-2: 0.40) and Barthel Index (R-2: 0.35). Conclusions: Our results highlight the clinical value of kinematic data collected during unsupervised goal-oriented motor training with the RGS combined with data science techniques, and provide new insight into factors underlying recovery and its biomarkers.

Keywords: interactive feedback, motion classification, motion sensing, multivariate regression, posture monitoring, rehabilitation, stroke, Adult, Aged, Analytic method, Arm movement, Article, Barthel index, Brain hemorrhage, Cerebrovascular accident, Chedoke arm and hand activity inventory, Clinical protocol, Cognitive defect, Computer analysis, Controlled study, Convergent validity, Correlation coefficient, Disease severity, External validity, Female, Fugl meyer assessment for the upper extremity, Functional assessment, Functional status assessment, General health status assessment, Hemiparesis, Human, Interactive feedback, Ischemic stroke, Kinematics, Major clinical study, Male, Mini mental state examination, Motion classification, Motion sensing, Motor analog scale, Movement, Multivariate regression, Muscle function, Posture monitoring, Probability, Recovery, Rehabilitation, Reliability, Retrospective study, Stroke, Stroke patient, Test retest reliability, Therapy, Total goal directed movement, Upper extremities, Upper limb, Upper-limb, Wolf motor function test


Guasch-Girbau A, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Review of the current landscape of the potential of nanotechnology for future malaria diagnosis, treatment, and vaccination strategies Pharmaceutics 13,

Malaria eradication has for decades been on the global health agenda, but the causative agents of the disease, several species of the protist parasite Plasmodium, have evolved mechanisms to evade vaccine-induced immunity and to rapidly acquire resistance against all drugs entering clinical use. Because classical antimalarial approaches have consistently failed, new strategies must be explored. One of these is nanomedicine, the application of manipulation and fabrication technology in the range of molecular dimensions between 1 and 100 nm, to the development of new medical solutions. Here we review the current state of the art in malaria diagnosis, prevention, and therapy and how nanotechnology is already having an incipient impact in improving them. In the second half of this review, the next generation of antimalarial drugs currently in the clinical pipeline is presented, with a definition of these drugs’ target product profiles and an assessment of the potential role of nanotechnology in their development. Opinions extracted from interviews with experts in the fields of nanomedicine, clinical malaria, and the economic landscape of the disease are included to offer a wider scope of the current requirements to win the fight against malaria and of how nanoscience can contribute to achieve them. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: antibody-bearing liposomes, antimalarial drugs, combination therapies, drug-delivery strategies, malaria diagnosis, malaria prophylaxis, malaria therapy, nanocarriers, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, nanotechnology, plasmodium, plasmodium-falciparum, red-blood-cells, targeted delivery, targeted drug delivery, vitro antimalarial activity, Antimalarial drugs, Isothermal amplification lamp, Malaria diagnosis, Malaria prophylaxis, Malaria therapy, Nanocarriers, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Verschure PFMJ, Wierenga S, (2021). Future memory: a digital humanities approach for the preservation and presentation of the history of the Holocaust and Nazi crimes Holocaust Studies

We describe the concepts, methodology, technology, and practice of a user-centric and historical space-oriented approach towards Historical and Cultural Learning (HCL). The Future Memory project pursues the unifying hypothesis that physical space can play a critical role in the authentication and education of this singular historical event, or space as a frame for memory formation and a source of authentication. We illustrate these aspects in the context of concrete Future Memory projects realized over the last ten years in collaboration with several memorial sites, museums, and archives. Based on these experiences, we subsequently analyze the lessons learned and future challenges. © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.

Keywords: Augmented reality, Commemoration, Digital heritage, Future memory, Post-wtiness era, Virtual reality


Farré R, Rodríguez-Lázaro MA, Dinh-Xuan AT, Pons-Odena M, Navajas D, Gozal D, (2021). A low-cost, easy-to-assemble device to prevent infant hyperthermia under conditions of high thermal stress International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health 18,

High ambient temperature and humidity greatly increase the risk of hyperthermia and mortality, particularly in infants, who are especially prone to dehydration. World areas at high risk of heat stress include many of the low-and middle-income countries (LMICs) where most of their inhabitants have no access to air conditioning. This study aimed to design, evaluate, and test a novel low-cost and easy-to-assemble device aimed at preventing the risk of infant hyperthermia in LMICs. The device is based on optimizing negative heat transfer from a small amount of ice and transferring it directly to the infant by airflow of refrigerated air. As a proof of concept, a device was assembled mainly using recycled materials, and its performance was assessed under laboratory-controlled conditions in a climatic chamber mimicking realistic stress conditions of high temperature and humidity. The device, which can be assembled by any layperson using easily available materials, provided sufficient refrigerating capacity for several hours from just 1–2 kg of ice obtained from a domestic freezer. Thus, application of this novel device may serve to attenuate the adverse effects of heat stress in infants, particularly in the context of the evolving climatic change trends. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: air conditioning, ambient-temperature, death, heat, heat index, heat shock, heatwave, high ambient temperature, hyperthermia, low-cost refrigeration, low-middle income countries, mortality, negative heat transfer, Air conditioning, Algorithm, Article, Climate change, Cost benefit analysis, Environmental temperature, Heat index, Heat shock, Heat stress, Heat transfer, Heating, Heatwave, High ambient temperature, High temperature, Humidity, Hyperthermia, Low income country, Low-cost refrigeration, Low-middle income countries, Middle income country, Middle-income countries, Negative heat transfer, Prevention study, Refrigeration, Temperature stress, Thawing


Júnior C, Narciso M, Marhuenda E, Almendros I, Farré R, Navajas D, Otero J, Gavara N, (2021). Baseline stiffness modulates the non-linear response to stretch of the extracellular matrix in pulmonary fibrosis INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a progressive disease that disrupts the mechanical homeostasis of the lung extracellular matrix (ECM). These effects are particularly relevant in the lung context, given the dynamic nature of cyclic stretch that the ECM is continuously subjected to during breathing. This work uses an in vivo model of pulmonary fibrosis to characterize the macro-and micromechanical properties of lung ECM subjected to stretch. To that aim, we have compared the micromechanical properties of fibrotic ECM in baseline and under stretch conditions, using a novel combination of Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and a stretchable membrane-based chip. At the macroscale, fibrotic ECM displayed strain-hardening, with a stiffness one order of magnitude higher than its healthy counterpart. Conversely, at the microscale, we found a switch in the stretch-induced mechanical behaviour of the lung ECM from strain-hardening at physiological ECM stiffnesses to strain-softening at fibrotic ECM stiffnesses. Similarly, we observed solidification of healthy ECM versus fluidization of fibrotic ECM in response to stretch. Our results suggest that the mechanical behaviour of fibrotic ECM under stretch involves a potential built-in mechanotransduction mechanism that may slow down the progression of PF by steering resident fibroblasts away from a pro-fibrotic profile. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: atomic force microscopy, extracellular matrix, fibrosis, mechanics, mechanosensing, strain, system, viscoelasticity, Atomic force microscopy, Extracellular matrix, Fibrosis, Lung fibrosis, Mechanosensing


Babeli I, Puiggalí-Jou A, Roa JJ, Ginebra M-P, García-Torres J, Alemán C, (2021). Hybrid conducting alginate-based hydrogel for hydrogen peroxide detection from enzymatic oxidation of lactate INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL MACROMOLECULES 193, 1237-1248

A conducting nanocomposite hydrogel is developed for the detection of L-lactate. The hydrogel is based on a mixture of alginate (Alg) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), which is loaded with gold nanoparticles (GNP). In this novel hydrogel, Alg provides 3D structural support and flexibility, PEDOT confers conductivity and sensing capacity, and GNP provides signal amplification with respect to simple voltammetric and chronoamperometric response. The synergistic combination of the properties provided by each component results in a new flexible nanocomposite with outstanding capacity to detect hydrogen peroxide, which has been used to detect the oxidation of L-lactate. The hydrogel detects hydrogen peroxide with linear response and limits of detection of 0.91 ?M and 0.02 ?M by cyclic voltammetry and chronoamperometry, respectively. The hydrogel is functionalized with lactate oxidase, which catalyzes the oxidation of L-lactate to pyruvate, forming hydrogen peroxide. For L-lactate detection, the functionalized biosensor works in two linear regimes, one for concentrations lower than 5 mM with a limit of detection of 0.4 mM, and the other for concentrations up to 100 mM with a limit of detection of 3.5 mM. Because of its linear range interval, the developed biosensor could be suitable for a wide number of biological fluids. © 2021

Keywords: biosensor, dehydrogenase, enzymatic oxidation, films, hardness, indentation, lactate oxidase, Biosensor, Elastic-modulus, Enzymatic oxidation, Lactate, Lactate oxidase, Reacciones enzimáticas


Pepe, G, Sfogliarini, C, Rizzello, L, Battaglia, G, Pinna, C, Rovati, G, Ciana, P, Brunialti, E, Mornata, F, Maggi, A, Locati, M, Vegeto, E, (2021). ER alpha-independent NRF2-mediated immunoregulatory activity of tamoxifen Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy 144,

Sex differences in immune-mediated diseases are linked to the activity of estrogens on innate immunity cells, including macrophages. Tamoxifen (TAM) is a selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM) used in estrogen receptor-alpha (ER alpha)-dependent breast cancers and off-target indications such as infections, although the immune activity of TAM and its active metabolite, 4-OH tamoxifen (4HT), is poorly characterized. Here, we aimed at investigating the endocrine and immune activity of these SERMs in macrophages. Using primary cultures of female mouse macrophages, we analyzed the expression of immune mediators and activation of effector functions in competition experiments with SERMs and 17 beta-estradiol (E2) or the bacterial endotoxin LPS. We observed that 4HT and TAM induce estrogen antagonist effects when used at nanomolar concentrations, while pharmacological concentrations that are reached by TAM in clinical settings regulate the expression of VEGF alpha and other immune activation genes by ER alpha- and G protein-coupled receptor 1 (GPER1)-independent mechanisms that involve NRF2 through PI3K/Akt-dependent mechanisms. Importantly, we observed that SERMs potentiate cell phagocytosis and modify the effects of LPS on the expression of inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF alpha and IL1 beta, with an overall increase in cell inflammatory phenotype, further sustained by potentiation of IL1 beta secretion through caspase-1 activation.

Keywords: drug repurposing, inflammation, macrophage, nrf2, Apoptosis, Breast-cancer, Drug repurposing, Expression, Inflammation, Macrophage, Nrf2, Resistance, Sex-differences, Tamoxifen, Tumor-associated macrophages


Marti, D, Martin-Martinez, E, Torras, J, Bertran, O, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). In silico antibody engineering for SARS-CoV-2 detection Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 19, 5525-5534

Engineered immunoglobulin-G molecules (IgGs) are of wide interest for the development of detection elements in protein-based biosensors with clinical applications. The strategy usually employed for the de novo design of such engineered IgGs consists on merging fragments of the three-dimensional structure of a native IgG, which is immobilized on the biosensor surface, and of an antibody with an exquisite target specificity and affinity. In this work conventional and accelerated classical molecular dynamics (cMD and aMD, respectively) simulations have been used to propose two IgG-like antibodies for COVID-19 detection. More specifically, the crystal structure of the IgG1 B12 antibody, which inactivates the human immunodeficiency virus-1, has been merged with the structure of the antibody CR3022 Fab tightly bounded to SARS-CoV-2 receptor-binding domain (RBD) and the structure of the 5309 antibody Fab fragment complexed with SARS-CoV-2 RBD. The two constructed antibodies, named IgG1-CR3022 and IgG1-S309, respectively, have been immobilized on a stable gold surface through a linker. Analyses of the influence of both the merging strategy and the substrate on the stability of the two constructs indicate that the IgG1-S309 antibody better preserves the neutralizing structure than the IgG1-CR3022 one. Overall, results indicate that the IgG1-S309 is appropriated for the generation of antibody based sensors for COVID-19 diagnosis. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Research Network of Computational and Structural Biotechnology.

Keywords: cr3022, igg1, molecular engineering, s309, Antibodies, Antibody engineering, Biosensors, Chemical detection, Clinical application, Cov, Cr3022, Crystal structure, Design, Diseases, Gold nanoparticles, Igg1, Igg1 antibody, Immobilization, Immunoglobulin g, Immunosensor, In-silico, Merging, Molecular dynamics, Molecular engineering, Orientation, Protein-based biosensors, Receptor-binding domains, S309, Sars, Sensor, Spike protein, Target, Vaccine, Viruses


Dulay, S, Rivas, L, Pla, L, Berdun, S, Eixarch, E, Gratacos, E, Illa, M, Mir, M, Samitier, J, (2021). Fetal ischemia monitoring with in vivo implanted electrochemical multiparametric microsensors Journal Of Biological Engineering 15, 28

Under intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), abnormal attainment of the nutrients and oxygen by the fetus restricts the normal evolution of the prenatal causing in many cases high morbidity being one of the top-ten causes of neonatal death. The current gold standards in hospitals to detect this relevant problem is the clinical observation by echography, cardiotocography and Doppler. These qualitative techniques are not conclusive and requires risky invasive fetal scalp blood testing and/or amniocentesis. We developed micro-implantable multiparametric electrochemical sensors for measuring ischemia in real time in fetal tissue and vascular. This implantable technology is designed to continuous monitoring for an early detection of ischemia to avoid potential fetal injury. Two miniaturized electrochemical sensors were developed based on oxygen and pH detection. The sensors were optimized in vitro under controlled concentration, to assess the selectivity and sensitivity required. The sensors were then validated in vivo in the ewe fetus model, by means of their insertion in the muscle leg and inside the iliac artery of the fetus. Ischemia was achieved by gradually obstructing the umbilical cord to regulate the amount of blood reaching the fetus. An important challenge in fetal monitoring is the detection of low levels of oxygen and pH changes under ischemic conditions, requiring high sensitivity sensors. Significant differences were observed in both; pH and pO(2) sensors under changes from normoxia to hypoxia states in the fetus tissue and vascular with both sensors. Herein, we demonstrate the feasibility of the developed sensors for future fetal monitoring in medical applications.

Keywords: electrochemical biosensor, implantable sensor, in vivo validation, ischemia detection, tissue and vascular monitoring, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Article, Blood-gases, Brain, Classification, Controlled study, Diagnosis, Doppler, Early diagnosis, Electrochemical analysis, Electrochemical biosensor, Ewe, Feasibility study, Female, Fetus, Fetus disease, Fetus monitoring, Gestational age, Hypoxemia, Iliac artery, Implantable sensor, In vivo validation, Intrauterine growth restriction, Intrauterine growth retardation, Ischemia detection, Leg muscle, Management, Nonhuman, Oxygen consumption, Ph, Ph and oxygen detection, Ph measurement, Process optimization, Sheep, Tissue and vascular monitoring, Umbilical-cord occlusion


Song, S, Mason, AF, Post, RAJ, De Corato, M, Mestre, R, Yewdall, NA, Cao, S, van der Hofstad, RW, Sanchez, S, Abdelmohsen, LKEA, van Hest, JCM, (2021). Engineering transient dynamics of artificial cells by stochastic distribution of enzymes Nature Communications 12,

Here the authors develop a coacervate micromotor that can display autonomous motion as a result of stochastic distribution of propelling units. This stochastic-induced mobility is validated and explained through experiments and theory. Random fluctuations are inherent to all complex molecular systems. Although nature has evolved mechanisms to control stochastic events to achieve the desired biological output, reproducing this in synthetic systems represents a significant challenge. Here we present an artificial platform that enables us to exploit stochasticity to direct motile behavior. We found that enzymes, when confined to the fluidic polymer membrane of a core-shell coacervate, were distributed stochastically in time and space. This resulted in a transient, asymmetric configuration of propulsive units, which imparted motility to such coacervates in presence of substrate. This mechanism was confirmed by stochastic modelling and simulations in silico. Furthermore, we showed that a deeper understanding of the mechanism of stochasticity could be utilized to modulate the motion output. Conceptually, this work represents a leap in design philosophy in the construction of synthetic systems with life-like behaviors.

Keywords: Cell, Cell component, Enzyme, Enzyme activity, Membrane, Philosophy, Polymer, Stochasticity, Substrate


Andrian, T, Pujals, S, Albertazzi, L, (2021). Quantifying the effect of PEG architecture on nanoparticle ligand availability using DNA-PAINT Nanoscale Advances 3, 6876-6881

The importance of PEG architecture on nanoparticle (NP) functionality is known but still difficult to investigate, especially at a single particle level. Here, we apply DNA Point Accumulation for Imaging in Nanoscale Topography (DNA-PAINT), a super-resolution microscopy (SRM) technique, to study the surface functionality in poly(lactide-co-glycolide)-poly(ethylene glycol) (PLGA-PEG) NPs with different PEG structures. We demonstrated how the length of the PEG spacer can influence the accessibility of surface chemical functionality, highlighting the importance of SRM techniques to support the rational design of functionalized NPs.

Keywords: chain-length, density, plga, surface, systems, Chain-length, Density, Dna, Microscopy technique, Nanoparticles, Nanoscale topography, Paint, Peg spacers, Plga, Poly lactide-co-glycolide, Poly-lactide-co-glycolide, Polyethylene glycols, Polylactide-co-glycolide, Single-particle, Super-resolution microscopy, Superresolution microscopy, Surface, Surface chemicals, Surface functionalities, Systems


Vila, JC, Castro-Aguirre, N, Lopez-Munoz, GA, Ferret-Minana, A, De Chiara, F, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2021). Disposable Polymeric Nanostructured Plasmonic Biosensors for Cell Culture Adhesion Monitoring Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 9,

Over the last years, optical biosensors based on plasmonic nanomaterials have gained great scientific interest due to their unquestionable advantages compared to other biosensing technologies. They can achieve sensitive, direct, and label-free analysis with exceptional potential for multiplexing and miniaturization. Recently, it has been demonstrated the potential of using optical discs as high throughput nanotemplates for the development of plasmonic biosensors in a cost-effective way. This work is a pilot study focused on the development of an integrated plasmonic biosensor for the monitoring of cell adhesion and growth of human retinal pigmented cell line (ARPE-19) under different media conditions (0 and 2% of FBS). We observed an increase of the plasmonic band displacement under 2% FBS compared to 0% conditions over time (1, 3, and 5 h). These preliminary results show that the proposed plasmonic biosensing approach is a direct, non-destructive, and real-time tool that could be employed in the study of living cells behavior and culture conditions. Furthermore, this setup could assess the viability of the cells and their growth over time with low variability between the technical replicates improving the experimental replicability.

Keywords: cell confluency, cell culture, nanocrystals, optical biosensor, Adhesion monitoring, Biosensing, Biosensors, Cell adhesion, Cell confluency, Cell culture, Cells, Condition, Cost effectiveness, Disposables, Nano-structured, Nanocrystals, Optical bio-sensors, Optical biosensor, Plasmonic biosensors, Plasmonic nanostructures, Plasmonics, Polylysine


Amil, Adrián Fernández, Verschure, Paul F.M.J., (2021). Supercritical dynamics at the edge-of-chaos underlies optimal decision-making Journal Of Physics-Complexity 2,

Abstract Critical dynamics, characterized by scale-free neuronal avalanches, is thought to underlie optimal function in the sensory cortices by maximizing information transmission, capacity, and dynamic range. In contrast, deviations from criticality have not yet been considered to support any cognitive processes. Nonetheless, neocortical areas related to working memory and decision-making seem to rely on long-lasting periods of ignition-like persistent firing. Such firing patterns are reminiscent of supercritical states where runaway excitation dominates the circuit dynamics. In addition, a macroscopic gradient of the relative density of Somatostatin (SST+) and Parvalbumin (PV+) inhibitory interneurons throughout the cortical hierarchy has been suggested to determine the functional specialization of low- versus high-order cortex. These observations thus raise the question of whether persistent activity in high-order areas results from the intrinsic features of the neocortical circuitry. We used an attractor model of the canonical cortical circuit performing a perceptual decision-making task to address this question. Our model reproduces the known saddle-node bifurcation where persistent activity emerges, merely by increasing the SST+/PV+ ratio while keeping the input and recurrent excitation constant. The regime beyond such a phase transition renders the circuit increasingly sensitive to random fluctuations of the inputs -i.e., chaotic-, defining an optimal SST+/PV+ ratio around the edge-of-chaos. Further, we show that both the optimal SST+/PV+ ratio and the region of the phase transition decrease monotonically with increasing input noise. This suggests that cortical circuits regulate their intrinsic dynamics via inhibitory interneurons to attain optimal sensitivity in the face of varying uncertainty. Hence, on the one hand, we link the emergence of supercritical dynamics at the edge-of-chaos to the gradient of the SST+/PV+ ratio along the cortical hierarchy, and, on the other hand, explain the behavioral effects of the differential regulation of SST+ and PV+ interneurons by neuromodulators like acetylcholine in the presence of input uncertainty.

Keywords: attractor model, cortex, cortical networks, edge-of-chaos, model, nmda receptors, Attractor model, Cortical hierarchies, Decision making, Dynamics, Edge of chaos, Edge-of-chaos, High-order, Higher-order, Inhibitory interneurons, Neurons, Optimal decision making, Persistent activities, Persistent activity, Supercritical, Supercriticality


Garreta, E, Nauryzgaliyeva, Z, Montserrat, N, (2021). Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived kidney organoids toward clinical implementations Curr Opin Biomed Eng 20,

The generation of kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) has represented a relevant scientific achievement in the organoid field. Importantly, hPSC-derived kidney organoids contain multiple nephron-like structures that exhibit some renal functional characteristics and have the capacity to respond to nephrotoxic agents. In this review, we first discuss how bioengineering approaches can help overcome current kidney organoid challenges. Next, we focus on recent works exploiting kidney organoids for drug screening and disease modeling applications. Finally, we provide a state of the art on current research toward the potential application of kidney organoids and renal cells derived from hPSCs for future renal replacement therapies.

Keywords: Bioengineering, Converting enzyme-ii, Crispr/cas9 gene editing, Disease, Disease modeling, Extracellular-matrix, Generation, Human pluripotent stem cells, Kidney organoids, Kidney regeneration, Model, Mouse, Reveals, Scaffold, Transplantation


Blancas, Maria, Valero, Cristina, Vouloutsi, Vasiliki, Mura, Anna, Verschure, P., (2021). Educational Robotics: A Journey, Not a Destination Handbook Of Research On Using Educational Robotics To Facilitate Student Learning , 41-67

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Tantai, Xinxing, Liu, Yi, Yeo, Yee Hui, Praktiknjo, Michael, Mauro, Ezequiel, Hamaguchi, Yuhei, Engelmann, Cornelius, Zhang, Peng, Jeong, Jae Yoon, van Vugt, Jeroen Laurens Ad, Xiao, Huijuan, Deng, Huan, Gao, Xu, Ye, Qing, Zhang, Jiayuan, Yang, Longbao, Cai, Yaqin, Liu, Yixin, Liu, Na, Li, Zongfang, Han, Tao, Kaido, Toshimi, Sohn, Joo Hyun, Strassburg, Christian, Berg, Thomas, Trebicka, Jonel, Hsu, Yao-Chun, IJzermans, Jan Nicolaas Maria, Wang, Jinhai, Su, Grace L., Ji, Fanpu, Nguyen, Mindie H., (2021). Effect of sarcopenia on survival of patients with cirrhosis: A meta-analysis Journal Of Hepatology 76, 588-599

The association between sarcopenia and prognosis in patients with cirrhosis remains to be determined. In this study, we aimed to quantify the association between sarcopenia and the risk of mortality in patients with cirrhosis, by sex, underlying liver disease etiology, and severity of hepatic dysfunction.PubMed, Web of Science, EMBASE, and major scientific conference sessions were searched without language restriction through 13 January 2021 with additional manual search of bibliographies of relevant articles. Cohort studies of ?100 patients with cirrhosis and ?12 months of follow-up that evaluated the association between sarcopenia, muscle mass and the risk of mortality were included.22 studies with 6965 patients with cirrhosis were included. The pooled prevalence of sarcopenia in patients with cirrhosis was 37.5% overall (95% CI 32.4%-42.8%), higher in male patients, patients with alcohol associated liver disease (ALD), patients with CTP grade C, and when sarcopenia was defined in patients by lumbar 3- skeletal muscle index (L3-SMI). Sarcopenia was associated with the increased risk of mortality in patients with cirrhosis (adjusted-hazard ratio [aHR] 2.30, 95% CI 2.01-2.63), with similar findings in sensitivity analysis of cirrhosis patients without HCC (aHR 2.35, 95% CI 1.95-2.83) and in subgroup analysis by sex, liver disease etiology, and severity of hepatic dysfunction. The association between quantitative muscle mass index and mortality further supports the poor prognosis for patients with sarcopenia (aHR 0.95, 95% CI 0.93-0.98). There was no significant heterogeneity in all analyses.Sarcopenia was highly and independently associated with higher risk of mortality in patients with cirrhosis.The prevalence of sarcopenia and its association with death in patients with cirrhosis remain unclear. This meta-analysis indicated that sarcopenia affected about one-third of patients with cirrhosis and up to 50% in patients with ALD or Child's class C cirrhosis. Sarcopenia was independently associated with about 2-fold higher risk of mortality in patients with cirrhosis. The mortality rate increased with greater severity or longer period of having sarcopenia. Increasing awareness about the importance of sarcopenia in patients with cirrhosis among stakeholders must be prioritized.Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.

Keywords: alcohol associated liver disease, cirrhosis, prognosis, sarcopenia, Alcohol-associated liver disease, Cirrhosis, Prognosis, Sarcopenia, Skeletal muscle index


Grechuta, K, Costa, JD, Ballester, BR, Verschure, P, (2021). Challenging the Boundaries of the Physical Self: Distal Cues Impact Body Ownership Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 15,

The unique ability to identify one's own body and experience it as one's own is fundamental in goal-oriented behavior and survival. However, the mechanisms underlying the so-called body ownership are yet not fully understood. Evidence based on Rubber Hand Illusion (RHI) paradigms has demonstrated that body ownership is a product of reception and integration of self and externally generated multisensory information, feedforward and feedback processing of sensorimotor signals, and prior knowledge about the body. Crucially, however, these designs commonly involve the processing of proximal modalities while the contribution of distal sensory signals to the experience of ownership remains elusive. Here we propose that, like any robust percept, body ownership depends on the integration and prediction across all sensory modalities, including distal sensory signals pertaining to the environment. To test our hypothesis, we created an embodied goal-oriented Virtual Air Hockey Task, in which participants were to hit a virtual puck into a goal. In two conditions, we manipulated the congruency of distal multisensory cues (auditory and visual) while preserving proximal and action-driven signals entirely predictable. Compared to a fully congruent condition, our results revealed a significant decrease on three dimensions of ownership evaluation when distal signals were incongruent, including the subjective report as well as physiological and kinematic responses to an unexpected threat. Together, these findings support the notion that the way we represent our body is contingent upon all the sensory stimuli, including distal and action-independent signals. The present data extend the current framework of body ownership and may also find applications in rehabilitation scenarios.



Keywords: active perception, body ownership, distal sensory cues, embodied cognition, forward model, Active perception, Adult, Article, Body ownership, Brain, Cortex, Distal sensory cues, Embodied cognition, Feel, Female, Forward model, Hockey, Human, Human experiment, Integration, Male, Models, Neurons, Perception, Peripersonal space, Prediction, Rehabilitation, Rubber hand illusion, Sensory prediction error, Touch


Szura, A, Pedraz, L, Smith, C, Mesas, C, Ruiz, E, Torrents, E, Sola, M, (2021). Expression, purification and oligomeric state analysis of a bacterial zinc finger protein and a tyrosine mutant Protein Science 30, 168-168

Duro-Castano, Aroa, Rodríguez-Arco, Laura, Ruiz-Pérez, Lorena, De Pace, Cesare, Marchello, Gabriele, Noble-Jesus, Carlos, Battaglia, Giuseppe, (2021). One-Pot Synthesis of Oxidation-Sensitive Supramolecular Gels and Vesicles BIOMACROMOLECULES 22, 5052-5064

Polypeptide-based nanoparticles offer unique advantages from a nanomedicine perspective such as biocompatibility, biodegradability, and stimuli-responsive properties to (patho)physiological conditions. Conventionally, self-assembled polypeptide nanostructures are prepared by first synthesizing their constituent amphiphilic polypeptides followed by postpolymerization self-assembly. Herein, we describe the one-pot synthesis of oxidation-sensitive supramolecular micelles and vesicles. This was achieved by polymerization-induced self-assembly (PISA) of the N-carboxyanhydride (NCA) precursor of methionine using poly(ethylene oxide) as a stabilizing and hydrophilic block in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO). By adjusting the hydrophobic block length and concentration, we obtained a range of morphologies from spherical to wormlike micelles, to vesicles. Remarkably, the secondary structure of polypeptides greatly influenced the final morphology of the assemblies. Surprisingly, wormlike micellar morphologies were obtained for a wide range of methionine block lengths and solid contents, with spherical micelles restricted to very short hydrophobic lengths. Wormlike micelles further assembled into oxidation-sensitive, self-standing gels in the reaction pot. Both vesicles and wormlike micelles obtained using this method demonstrated to degrade under controlled oxidant conditions, which would expand their biomedical applications such as in sustained drug release or as cellular scaffolds in tissue engineering.

Keywords: alpha-amino-acid, hydrogels, leuchs anhydrides, platform, polypeptides, transformation, triggered cargo release, Amino acids, Amphiphilics, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Block lengths, Controlled drug delivery, Dimethyl sulfoxide, Ethylene, Gels, Hydrophobicity, Medical nanotechnology, Methionine, Micelles, Morphology, One-pot synthesis, Organic solvents, Oxidation, Physiological condition, Polyethylene oxides, Post-polymerization, Ring-opening polymerization, Scaffolds (biology), Self assembly, Stimuli-responsive properties, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular gels, Supramolecular micelles, Wormlike micelle


Burgués, Javier, Esclapez, María Deseada, Doñate, Silvia, Marco, Santiago, (2021). RHINOS: A lightweight portable electronic nose for real-time odor quantification in wastewater treatment plants iScience 24,

Quantification of odor emissions in wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is key to minimize odor impact to surrounding communities. Odor measurements in WWTPs are usually performed via either expensive and discontinuous olfactometry hydrogen sulfide detectors or via fixed electronic noses. We propose a portable lightweight electronic nose specially designed for real-time odor monitoring in WWTPs using small drones. The so-called RHINOS e-nose allows odor measurements with high spatial resolution, and its accuracy is only slightly worse than that of dynamic olfactometry. The device has been calibrated using odor samples collected in a WWTP in Spain over a period of six months and validated in the same WWTP three weeks after calibration. The promising results obtained support the suitability of the proposed instrument to identify the odor sources having the highest emissions, which may give a useful indication to the plant managers as regards odor control and abatement.© 2021 The Author(s).

Keywords: biofiltration, calibration transfer, chemical sensor arrays, chemistry, drift compensation, engineering, environmental chemical engineering, h2s, model, oxide gas sensors, removal, sensor, system, Chemistry, Engineering, Environmental chemical engineering, Sensor, Sensor system, Variable selection methods


Riera, Roger, Hogervorst, Tim P., Doelman, Ward, Ni, Yan, Pujals, Silvia, Bolli, Evangelia, Codée, Jeroen DC., van Kasteren, Sander I., Albertazzi, Lorenzo, (2021). Single-molecule imaging of glycan–lectin interactions on cells with Glyco-PAINT Nature Chemical Biology 17, 1281-+

Most lectins bind carbohydrate ligands with relatively low affinity, making the identification of optimal ligands challenging. Here we introduce a point accumulation in nanoscale topography (PAINT) super-resolution microscopy method to capture weak glycan-lectin interactions at the single-molecule level in living cells (Glyco-PAINT). Glyco-PAINT exploits weak and reversible sugar binding to directly achieve single-molecule detection and quantification in cells and is used to establish the relative kon and koff rates of a synthesized library of carbohydrate-based probes, as well as the diffusion coefficient of the receptor-sugar complex. Uptake of ligands correlates with their binding affinity and residence time to establish structure-function relations for various synthetic glycans. We reveal how sugar multivalency and presentation geometry can be optimized for binding and internalization. Overall, Glyco-PAINT represents a powerful approach to study weak glycan-lectin interactions on the surface of living cells, one that can be potentially extended to a variety of lectin-sugar interactions.© 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.

Keywords: dc-sign, density, dimerization, endocytosis, lateral mobility, ligand-binding, mannose receptor, proteins, recognition, Animal, Animals, Cell membrane, Cell membrane permeability, Chemistry, Cho cell line, Cho cells, Cricetulus, Cysteine-rich domain, Kinetics, Lectin, Lectins, Ligand, Ligands, Molecular library, Multivariate analysis, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides, Procedures, Protein binding, Single molecule imaging, Small molecule libraries, Structure activity relation, Structure-activity relationship


Prieto, Alejandro, Bernabeu, Manuel, Sánchez-Herrero, José Francisco, Pérez-Bosque, Anna, Miró, Lluïsa, Bäuerl, Christine, Collado, Carmen, Hüttener, Mário, Juárez, Antonio, (2021). Modulation of AggR levels reveals features of virulence regulation in enteroaggregative E. coli Commun Biol 4,

Enteroaggregative Escherichia coli (EAEC) strains are one of the diarrheagenic pathotypes. EAEC strains harbor a virulence plasmid (pAA2) that encodes, among other virulence determinants, the aggR gene. The expression of the AggR protein leads to the expression of several virulence determinants in both plasmids and chromosomes. In this work, we describe a novel mechanism that influences AggR expression. Because of the absence of a Rho-independent terminator in the 3?UTR, aggR transcripts extend far beyond the aggR ORF. These transcripts are prone to PNPase-mediated degradation. Structural alterations in the 3?UTR result in increased aggR transcript stability, leading to increased AggR levels. We therefore investigated the effect of increased AggR levels on EAEC virulence. Upon finding the previously described AggR-dependent virulence factors, we detected novel AggR-regulated genes that may play relevant roles in EAEC virulence. Mutants exhibiting high AggR levels because of structural alterations in the aggR 3?UTR show increased mobility and increased pAA2 conjugation frequency. Furthermore, among the genes exhibiting increased fold change values, we could identify those of metabolic pathways that promote increased degradation of arginine, fatty acids and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), respectively. In this paper, we discuss how the AggR-dependent increase in specific metabolic pathways activity may contribute to EAEC virulence.

Keywords: aggregative adherence, arginine metabolism, biofilm formation, escherichia-coli, gene-expression, messenger-rna, operon, persistent diarrhea, untranslated region, Fimbria-i expression


Sans, Jordi, Sanz, Vanesa, Turon, Pau, Alemán, Carlos, (2021). Enhanced CO2 Conversion into Ethanol by Permanently Polarized Hydroxyapatite through C-C Coupling ChemCatChem 13, 5025-5033

Le Roux, Anabel-Lise, Tozzi, Caterina, Walani, Nikhil, Quiroga, Xarxa, Zalvidea, Dobryna, Trepat, Xavier, Staykova, Margarita, Arroyo, Marino, Roca-Cusachs, Pere, (2021). Dynamic mechanochemical feedback between curved membranes and BAR protein self-organization Nature Communications 12,

In many physiological situations, BAR proteins reshape membranes with pre-existing curvature (templates), contributing to essential cellular processes. However, the mechanism and the biological implications of this reshaping process remain unclear. Here we show, both experimentally and through modelling, that BAR proteins reshape low curvature membrane templates through a mechanochemical phase transition. This phenomenon depends on initial template shape and involves the co-existence and progressive transition between distinct local states in terms of molecular organization (protein arrangement and density) and membrane shape (template size and spherical versus cylindrical curvature). Further, we demonstrate in cells that this phenomenon enables a mechanotransduction mode, in which cellular stretch leads to the mechanical formation of membrane templates, which are then reshaped into tubules by BAR proteins. Our results demonstrate the interplay between membrane mechanics and BAR protein molecular organization, integrating curvature sensing and generation in a comprehensive framework with implications for cell mechanical responses.

Keywords: aggregation, amphiphysin, domains, vesicles, Article, Cell, Cell component, Curvature, Detection method, Geomembrane, Mechanotransduction, Membrane, Molecular analysis, Phase transition, Physiology, Protein, Self organization


Lozano, Helena, Millan-Solsona, Ruben, Blanco-Cabra, Nuria, Fabregas, Rene, Torrents, Eduard, Gomila, Gabriel, (2021). Electrical properties of outer membrane extensions from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 Nanoscale 13, 18754-18762

Outer membrane extensions from the metal-reducing bacterium Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 show an insulating behavior in dry air environment as measured by scanning dielectric microscopy.

Keywords: constant, dielectric polarization, microbial nanowires, nanoscale, transport, Air environment, Bacteria, Bacterial cells, Bacterial nanowires, Dry air, Metal-reducing bacteria, Outer membrane, Phase-minerals, Proteins, Shewanella oneidensis mr-1, Solid phasis, Solid-phase, Space division multiple access, Tubulars


Glinkowska Mares, Adrianna, Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Muela, Yolanda, Martínez, Gema, Delgado, Lidia, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Pujals, Silvia, (2021). Towards Cellular Ultrastructural Characterization in Organ-on-a-Chip by Transmission Electron Microscopy Applied Nano 2, 289-302

Organ-on-a-chip technology is a 3D cell culture breakthrough of the last decade. This rapidly developing field of bioengineering intertwined with microfluidics provides new insights into disease development and preclinical drug screening. So far, optical and fluorescence microscopy are the most widely used methods to monitor and extract information from these models. Meanwhile transmission electron microscopy (TEM), despite its wide use for the characterization of nanomaterials and biological samples, remains unexplored in this area. In our work we propose a TEM sample preparation method, that allows to process a microfluidic chip without its prior deconstruction, into TEM-compatible specimens. We demonstrated preparation of tumor blood vessel-on-a-chip model and consecutive steps to preserve the endothelial cells lining microfluidic channel, for the chip’s further transformation into ultrathin sections. This approach allowed us to obtain cross-sections of the microchannel with cells cultured inside, and to observe cell adaptation to the channel geometry, as well as the characteristic for endothelial cells tight junctions. The proposed sample preparation method facilitates the electron microscopy ultrastructural characterization of biological samples cultured in organ-on-a-chip device.


Nyga, Agata, Muñoz, Jose J., Dercksen, Suze, Fornabaio, Giulia, Uroz, Marina, Trepat, Xavier, Baum, Buzz, Matthews, Helen K., Conte, Vito, (2021). Oncogenic RAS instructs morphological transformation of human epithelia via differential tissue mechanics Science Advances 7,

Castillo-Escario, Yolanda, Kumru, Hatice, Ferrer-Lluis, Ignasi, Vidal, Joan, Jané, Raimon, (2021). Detection of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury Using a Smartphone SENSORS 21,

Patients with spinal cord injury (SCI) have an increased risk of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), which can lead to serious comorbidities and impact patients’ recovery and quality of life. However, sleep tests are rarely performed on SCI patients, given their multiple health needs and the cost and complexity of diagnostic equipment. The objective of this study was to use a novel smartphone system as a simple non-invasive tool to monitor SDB in SCI patients. We recorded pulse oximetry, acoustic, and accelerometer data using a smartphone during overnight tests in 19 SCI patients and 19 able-bodied controls. Then, we analyzed these signals with automatic algorithms to detect desaturation, apnea, and hypopnea events and monitor sleep position. The apnea–hypopnea index (AHI) was significantly higher in SCI patients than controls (25 ± 15 vs. 9 ± 7, p < 0.001). We found that 63% of SCI patients had moderate-to-severe SDB (AHI ? 15) in contrast to 21% of control subjects. Most SCI patients slept predominantly in supine position, but an increased occurrence of events in supine position was only observed for eight patients. This study highlights the problem of SDB in SCI and provides simple cost-effective sleep monitoring tools to facilitate the detection, understanding, and management of SDB in SCI patients.

Keywords: apnea syndrome, biomedical signal processing, individuals, mhealth, monitoring, nasal resistance, people, position, prevalence, questionnaire, sample, sleep apnea, sleep position, sleep-disordered breathing, smartphone, time, Apnea-hypopnea indices, Biomedical signal processing, Biomedical signals processing, Cost effectiveness, Diagnosis, Mhealth, Monitoring, Noninvasive medical procedures, Oximeters, Oxygen-saturation, Patient rehabilitation, Simple++, Sleep apnea, Sleep position, Sleep research, Sleep-disordered breathing, Smart phones, Smartphone, Smartphones, Spinal cord injury, Spinal cord injury patients


Chausse, Victor, Schieber, Romain, Raymond, Yago, Ségry, Brian, Sabaté, Ramon, Kolandaivelu, Kumaran, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, Pegueroles, Marta, (2021). Solvent-cast direct-writing as a fabrication strategy for radiopaque stents Additive Manufacturing 48, 102392

Duran, J, Hervera, A, Markussen, KH, Varea, O, Lopez-Soldado, I, Sun, RC, del Rio, JA, Gentry, MS, Guinovart, JJ, (2021). Astrocytic glycogen accumulation drives the pathophysiology of neurodegeneration in Lafora disease Brain 144, 2349-2360

The hallmark of Lafora disease, a fatal neurodegenerative disorder, is the accumulation of intracellular glycogen aggregates called Lafora bodies. Until recently, it was widely believed that brain Lafora bodies were present exclusively in neurons and thus that Lafora disease pathology derived from their accumulation in this cell population. However, recent evidence indicates that Lafora bodies are also present in astrocytes. To define the role of astrocytic Lafora bodies in Lafora disease pathology, we deleted glycogen synthase specifically from astrocytes in a mouse model of the disease (malin(KO)). Strikingly, blocking glycogen synthesis in astrocytes-thus impeding Lafora bodies accumulation in this cell type-prevented the increase in neurodegeneration markers, autophagy impairment, and metabolic changes characteristic of the malin(KO) model. Conversely, mice that over-accumulate glycogen in astrocytes showed an increase in these markers. These results unveil the deleterious consequences of the deregulation of glycogen metabolism in astrocytes and change the perspective that Lafora disease is caused solely by alterations in neurons.

Keywords: Bodies, Deficient mice, Epilepsy, Glycogen, Impairment, Lafora disease, Malin, Modulation, Mouse model, Neurodegeneration, Neuroinflammation, Neurons, Progressive myoclonus epilepsy, Seizure susceptibility, Synthase


Seuma, M, Faure, AJ, Badia, M, Lehner, B, Bolognesi, B, (2021). The genetic landscape for amyloid beta fibril nucleation accurately discriminates familial Alzheimer's disease mutations eLife 10, 1-49

Plaques of the amyloid beta (A beta) peptide are a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer's disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. Mutations in A beta also cause familial forms of AD (fAD). Here, we use deep mutational scanning to quantify the effects of >14,000 mutations on the aggregation of A beta. The resulting genetic landscape reveals mechanistic insights into fibril nucleation, including the importance of charge and gatekeeper residues in the disordered region outside of the amyloid core in preventing nucleation. Strikingly, unlike computational predictors and previous measurements, the empirical nucleation scores accurately identify all known dominant fAD mutations in A beta, genetically validating that the mechanism of nucleation in a cell-based assay is likely to be very similar to the mechanism that causes the human disease. These results provide the first comprehensive atlas of how mutations alter the formation of any amyloid fibril and a resource for the interpretation of genetic variation in A beta.

Keywords: aggregation, kinetics, oligomers, onset, rates, state, Aggregation, Alzheimer's, Amyloid, Computational biology, Deep mutagenesis, Genetics, Genomics, Kinetics, Nucleation, Oligomers, Onset, Precursor protein, Rates, S. cerevisiae, State, Systems biology


Lopez-Muñoz, Gerardo A, Fernández-Costa, Juan M, Ortega, Maria Alejandra, Balaguer-Trias, Jordina, Martin-Lasierra, Eduard, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2021). Plasmonic nanocrystals on polycarbonate substrates for direct and label-free biodetection of Interleukin-6 in bioengineered 3D skeletal muscles Nanophotonics 10, 4477-4488

Abstract The development of nanostructured plasmonic biosensors has been widely widespread in the last years, motivated by the potential benefits they can offer in integration, miniaturization, multiplexing opportunities, and enhanced performance label-free biodetection in a wide field of applications. Between them, engineering tissues represent a novel, challenging, and prolific application field for nanostructured plasmonic biosensors considering the previously described benefits and the low levels of secreted biomarkers (?pM–nM) to detect. Here, we present an integrated plasmonic nanocrystals-based biosensor using high throughput nanostructured polycarbonate substrates. Metallic film thickness and incident angle of light for reflectance measurements were optimized to enhance the detection of antibody–antigen biorecognition events using numerical simulations. We achieved an enhancement in biodetection up to 3× as the incident angle of light decreases, which can be related to shorter evanescent decay lengths. We achieved a high reproducibility between channels with a coefficient of variation below 2% in bulk refractive index measurements, demonstrating a high potential for multiplexed sensing. Finally, biosensing potential was demonstrated by the direct and label-free detection of interleukin-6 biomarker in undiluted cell culture media supernatants from bioengineered 3D skeletal muscle tissues stimulated with different concentrations of endotoxins achieving a limit of detection (LOD) of ? 0.03 ng/mL (1.4 pM).

Keywords: assay, crystals, drug, label-free biosensing, molecules, plasmonic nanostructures, sensors, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, Biodetection, Biomarkers, Biosensors, Cell culture, Cells, Chemical detection, Histology, Interleukin-6, Interleukin6 (il6), Label free, Label-free biosensing, Muscle, Nano-structured, Nanocrystals, Plasmonic nanocrystals, Plasmonic nanostructures, Plasmonics, Polycarbonate substrates, Polycarbonates, Refractive index, Sensitivity, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering, Tissues engineerings


Ortiz C, Schierwagen R, Schaefer L, Klein S, Trepat X, Trebicka J, (2021). Extracellular Matrix Remodeling in Chronic Liver Disease Current Tissue Microenvironment Reports 2, 1-12

Abstract Purpose of the Review This review aims to summarize the current knowledge of the extracellular matrix remodeling during hepatic fibrosis. We discuss the diverse interactions of the extracellular matrix with hepatic cells and the surrounding matrix in liver fibrosis, with the focus on the molecular pathways and the mechanisms that regulate extracellular matrix remodeling. Recent Findings The extracellular matrix not only provides structure and support for the cells, but also controls cell behavior by providing adhesion signals and by acting as a reservoir of growth factors and cytokines. Summary Hepatic fibrosis is characterized by an excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix. During fibrogenesis, the natural remodeling process of the extracellular matrix varies, resulting in the excessive accumulation of its components, mainly collagens. Signals released by the extracellular matrix induce the activation of hepatic stellate cells, which are the major source of extracellular matrix and most abundant myofibroblasts in the liver. Graphical abstract

Keywords: collagen, extracellular matrix, hepatic stellate cell, liver fibrosis, metalloproteinases, Tgf-?1


Schroeder, Barbara, Vander Steen, Travis, Espinoza, Ingrid, Venkatapoorna, Chandra MKurapaty, Hu, Zeng, Silva, Fernando Martín, Regan, Kevin, Cuyàs, Elisabet, Meng, XWei, Verdura, Sara, Arbusà, Aina, Schneider, Paula A., Flatten, Karen S., Kemble, George, Montero, Joan, Kaufmann, Scott H., Menendez, Javier A., Lupu, Ruth, (2021). Fatty acid synthase (FASN) regulates the mitochondrial priming of cancer cells Cell Death & Disease 12, 977

Inhibitors of the lipogenic enzyme fatty acid synthase (FASN) have attracted much attention in the last decade as potential targeted cancer therapies. However, little is known about the molecular determinants of cancer cell sensitivity to FASN inhibitors (FASNis), which is a major roadblock to their therapeutic application. Here, we find that pharmacological starvation of endogenously produced FAs is a previously unrecognized metabolic stress that heightens mitochondrial apoptotic priming and favors cell death induction by BH3 mimetic inhibitors. Evaluation of the death decision circuits controlled by the BCL-2 family of proteins revealed that FASN inhibition is accompanied by the upregulation of the pro-death BH3-only proteins BIM, PUMA, and NOXA. Cell death triggered by FASN inhibition, which causally involves a palmitate/NADPH-related redox imbalance, is markedly diminished by concurrent loss of BIM or PUMA, suggesting that FASN activity controls cancer cell survival by fine-tuning the BH3 only proteins-dependent mitochondrial threshold for apoptosis. FASN inhibition results in a heightened mitochondrial apoptosis priming, shifting cells toward a primed-for-death state “addicted” to the anti-apoptotic protein BCL-2. Accordingly, co-administration of a FASNi synergistically augments the apoptosis-inducing activity of the dual BCL-XL/BCL-2 inhibitor ABT-263 (navitoclax) and the BCL-2 specific BH3-mimetic ABT-199 (venetoclax). FASN inhibition, however, fails to sensitize breast cancer cells to MCL-1- and BCL-XL-selective inhibitors such as S63845 and A1331852. A human breast cancer xenograft model evidenced that oral administration of the only clinically available FASNi drastically sensitizes FASN-addicted breast tumors to ineffective single-agents navitoclax and venetoclax in vivo. In summary, a novel FASN-driven facet of the mitochondrial priming mechanistically links the redox-buffering mechanism of FASN activity to the intrinsic apoptotic threshold in breast cancer cells. Combining next-generation FASNis with BCL-2-specific BH3 mimetics that directly activate the apoptotic machinery might generate more potent and longer-lasting antitumor responses in a clinical setting.

Keywords: activation, apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cytochrome-c, death, inhibition, metabolism, pathways, venetoclax, Bcl-2 family


Torabi N, Qiu X, López-Ortiz M, Loznik M, Herrmann A, Kermanpur A, Ashrafi A, Chiechi RC, (2021). Fullerenes Enhance Self-Assembly and Electron Injection of Photosystem i in Biophotovoltaic Devices LANGMUIR 37, 11465-11473

This paper describes the fabrication of microfluidic devices with a focus on controlling the orientation of photosystem I (PSI) complexes, which directly affects the performance of biophotovoltaic devices by maximizing the efficiency of the extraction of electron/hole pairs from the complexes. The surface chemistry of the electrode on which the complexes assemble plays a critical role in their orientation. We compared the degree of orientation on self-assembled monolayers of phenyl-C61-butyric acid and a custom peptide on nanostructured gold electrodes. Biophotovoltaic devices fabricated with the C61 fulleroid exhibit significantly improved performance and reproducibility compared to those utilizing the peptide, yielding a 1.6-fold increase in efficiency. In addition, the C61-based devices were more stable under continuous illumination. Our findings show that fulleroids, which are well-known acceptor materials in organic photovoltaic devices, facilitate the extraction of electrons from PSI complexes without sacrificing control over the orientation of the complexes, highlighting this combination of traditional organic semiconductors with biomolecules as a viable approach to coopting natural photosynthetic systems for use in solar cells.

Keywords: architecture, arrays, construction, metal, nanotubes, performance, photosynthetic proteins, polymer-fullerene, solar-cells, Photocurrent generation


Illa M, Pla L, Berdún S, Mir M, Rivas L, Dulay S, Picard-Hagen N, Samitier J, Gratacós E, Eixarch E, (2021). Miniaturized electrochemical sensors to monitor fetal hypoxia and acidosis in a pregnant sheep model Biomedicines 9,

Perinatal asphyxia is a major cause of severe brain damage and death. For its prenatal identification, Doppler ultrasound has been used as a surrogate marker of fetal hypoxia. However, Doppler evaluation cannot be performed continuously. We have evaluated the performance of a miniaturized multiparametric sensor aiming to evaluate tissular oxygen and pH changes continuously in an umbilical cord occlusion (UCO) sheep model. The electrochemical sensors were inserted in fetal hindlimb skeletal muscle and electrochemical signals were recorded. Fetal hemodynamic changes and metabolic status were also monitored during the experiment. Additionally, histological assessment of the tissue surrounding the sensors was performed. Both electrochemical sensors detected the pO2 and pH changes induced by the UCO and these changes were correlated with hemodynamic parameters as well as with pH and oxygen content in the blood. Finally, histological assessment revealed no signs of alteration on the same day of insertion. This study provides the first evidence showing the application of miniaturized multiparametric electrochemical sensors detecting changes in oxygen and pH in skeletal muscular tissue in a fetal sheep model.

Keywords: continuous monitoring of acid-base status, diagnosis, doppler, electrochemical sensors, growth restriction, high-risk pregnancies, human-fetus, management, responses, tissue ph, Continuous monitoring of acid-base status, Electrochemical sensors, High-risk pregnancies, Umbilical cord occlusion, Umbilical-cord occlusion


Ojosnegros, S, Seriola, A, Godeau, AL, Veiga, A, (2021). Embryo implantation in the laboratory: an update on current techniques HUMAN REPRODUCTION UPDATE 27, 501-530

BACKGROUND: The embryo implantation process is crucial for the correct establishment and progress of pregnancy. During implantation, the blastocyst trophectoderm cells attach to the epithelium of the endometrium, triggering intense cell-to-cell crosstalk that leads to trophoblast outgrowth, invasion of the endometrial tissue, and formation of the placenta. However, this process, which is vital for embryo and foetal development in utero, is still elusive to experimentation because of its inaccessibility. Experimental implantation is cumbersome and impractical in adult animal models and is inconceivable in humans. OBJECTIVE AND RATIONALE: A number of custom experimental solutions have been proposed to recreate different stages of the implantation process in vitro, by combining a human embryo (or a human embryo surrogate) and endometrial cells (or a surrogate for the endometrial tissue). In vitro models allow rapid high-throughput interrogation of embryos and cells, and efficient screening of molecules, such as cytokines, drugs, or transcription factors, that control embryo implantation and the receptivity of the endometrium. However, the broad selection of available in vitro systems makes it complicated to decide which system best fits the needs of a specific experiment or scientific question. To orient the reader, this review will explore the experimental options proposed in the literature, and classify them into amenable categories based on the embryo/cell pairs employed. The goal is to give an overview of the tools available to study the complex process of human embryo implantation, and explain the differences between them, including the advantages and disadvantages of each system. SEARCH METHODS: We performed a comprehensive review of the literature to come up with different categories that mimic the different stages of embryo implantation in vitro, ranging from initial blastocyst apposition to later stages of trophoblast invasion or gastrulation. We will also review recent breakthrough advances on stem cells and organoids, assembling embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues. OUTCOMES: We highlight the most relevant systems and describe the most significant experiments. We focus on in vitro systems that have contributed to the study of human reproduction by discovering molecules that control implantation, including hormones, signalling molecules, transcription factors and cytokines. WIDER IMPLICATIONS: The momentum of this field is growing thanks to the use of stem cells to build embryo-like structures and endometrial tissues, and the use of bioengineering to extend the life of embryos in culture. We propose to merge bioengineering methods derived from the fields of stem cells and reproduction to develop new systems covering a wider window of the implantation process.

Keywords: in vitro models, blastocyst, blastocyst-like structures, early-pregnancy, endometrial cells, epidermal-growth-factor, gene-expression, implantation, in vitro models, in-vitro model, indian hedgehog, organoids, receptivity, self-organization, spheroids, trophoblast, trophoblast invasion, uterine receptivity, Blastocyst, Blastocyst-like structures, Early-pregnancy, Endometrial cells, Endometrial stromal cells, Epidermal-growth-factor, Gene-expression, Implantation, In vitro models, In-vitro model, Indian hedgehog, Organoids, Receptivity, Self-organization, Spheroids, Trophoblast, Trophoblast invasion, Uterine receptivity


Konka, J, Espanol, M, Bosch, BM, de Oliveira, E, Ginebra, MP, (2021). Maturation of biomimetic hydroxyapatite in physiological fluids: a physicochemical and proteomic study MATERIALS TODAY BIO 12,

Biomimetic calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) as a bioactive material exhibits exceptional intrinsic osteoinductive and osteogenic properties because of its nanostructure and composition, which promote a favorable microenvironment. Its high reactivity has been hypothesized to play a relevant role in the in vivo performance, mediated by the interaction with the biological fluids, which is amplified by its high specific surface area. Paradoxically, this high reactivity is also behind the in vitro cytotoxicity of this material, especially pro-nounced in static conditions. The present work explores the structural and physicochemical changes that CDHA undergoes in contact with physiological fluids and to investigate its interaction with proteins. Calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite discs with different micro/nanostructures, coarse (C) and fine (F), were exposed to cell-free complete culture medium over extended periods of time: 1, 7, 14, 21, 28, and 50 days. Precipitate formation was not observed in any of the materials in contact with the physiological fluid, which would indicate that the ionic exchanges were linked to incorporation into the crystal structure of CDHA or in the hydrated layer. In fact, CDHA experienced a maturation process, with a progressive increase in crystallinity and the Ca/P ratio, accompanied by an uptake of Mg and a B-type carbonation process, with a gradual propagation into the core of the samples. However, the reactivity of biomimetic hydroxyapatite was highly dependent on the specific surface area and was amplified in nanosized needle-like crystal structures (F), whereas in coarse specimens the ionic exchanges were restricted to the surface, with low penetration in the material bulk. In addition to showing a higher protein adsorption on F substrates, the proteomics study revealed the existence of protein selectivity to-ward F or C microstructures, as well as the capability of CDHA, and more remarkably of F-CDHA, to concentrate specific proteins from the culture medium. Finally, a substantial improvement in the material's ability to support cell proliferation was observed after the CDHA maturation process.

Keywords: calcium phosphates, ion exchange, nanostructure, protein adsorption, Biological-systems, Biomaterials, Biomimetic hydroxyapatites, Biomimetics, Bone-formation, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Calcium phosphate, Calcium phosphates, Cell proliferation, Crystal structure, Crystallinity, Crystals structures, Culture medium, Growth, High reactivity, Hydroxyapatite, In-vitro, Ion exchange, Ionic exchange, Molecular biology, Nanocrystalline apatites, Nanostructure, Nanostructures, Octacalcium phosphate, Physicochemical studies, Physiological fluids, Physiology, Protein adsorption, Proteins, Proteomic studies, Raman spectroscopy, Serum-albumin, Specific surface area


Molins, B, Garreta, E, del Pozo, CH, Adan, A, Montserrat, N, (2021). Modelling retinal disease with a blood-retinal-barrier in vitro system combining human pluripotent stem cells and decellularized retinal tissue Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science 62,

Pérez-Rafael S, Ivanova K, Stefanov I, Puiggalí J, del Valle LJ, Todorova K, Dimitrov P, Hinojosa-Caballero D, Tzanov T, (2021). Nanoparticle-driven self-assembling injectable hydrogels provide a multi-factorial approach for chronic wound treatment Acta Biomaterialia 134, 131-143

Chronic wounds represent a major health burden and drain on medical system. Efficient wound repair is only possible if the dressing materials target simultaneously multiple factors involved in wound chronicity, such as deleterious proteolytic and oxidative enzymes and high bacterial load. Here we develop multifunctional hydrogels for chronic wound management through self-assembling of thiolated hyaluronic acid (HA-SH) and bioactive silver-lignin nanoparticles (Ag@Lig NPs). Dynamic and reversible interactions between the polymer and Ag@Lig NPs yield hybrid nanocomposite hydrogels with shear-thinning and self-healing properties, coupled to zero-order kinetics release of antimicrobial silver in response to infection-related hyalurodinase. The hydrogels inhibit the major enzymes myeloperoxidase and matrix metalloproteinases responsible for wound chronicity in a patient's wound exudate. Furthermore, the lignin-capped AgNPs provide the hydrogel with antioxidant properties and strong antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The nanocomposite hydrogels are not toxic to human keratinocytes after 7 days of direct contact. Complete tissue remodeling and restoration of skin integrity is demonstrated in vivo in a diabetic mouse model. Hematological analysis reveals lack of wound inflammation due to bacterial infection or toxicity, confirming the potential of HA-SH/Ag@Lig NPs hydrogels for chronic wound management. Statement of significance: Multifunctional hydrogels are promising materials to promote healing of complex wounds. Herein, we report simple and versatile route to prepare biocompatible and multifunctional self-assembled hydrogels for efficient chronic wound treatment utilizing polymer-nanoparticle interactions. Hybrid silver-lignin nanoparticles (Ag@Lig NPs) played both: i) structural role, acting as crosslinking nodes in the hydrogel and endowing it with shear-thinning (ability to flow under applied shear stress) and self-healing properties, and ii) functional role, imparting strong antibacterial and antioxidant activity. Remarkably, the in situ self-assembling of thiolated hyaluronic acid and Ag@Lig NPs yields nanocomposite hydrogels able to simultaneously inhibits the major factors involved in wound chronicity, namely the overexpressed deleterious proteolytic and oxidative enzymes, and high bacterial load.

Keywords: catechol, chronic wounds, dressing materials, inhibition, mechanism, nano-enabled hydrogels, polyphenols, promogran, self-assembling, silver-lignin nanoparticles, systems, tannins, Chronic wounds, Degradation, Dressing materials, Nano-enabled hydrogels, Self-assembling, Silver-lignin nanoparticles, Thiolated hyaluronic acid


Sheehan F, Sementa D, Jain A, Kumar M, Tayarani-Najjaran M, Kroiss D, Ulijn RV, (2021). Peptide-Based Supramolecular Systems Chemistry CHEMICAL REVIEWS 121, 13869-13914

Peptide-based supramolecular systems chemistry seeks to mimic the ability of life forms to use conserved sets of building blocks and chemical reactions to achieve a bewildering array of functions. Building on the design principles for short peptide-based nanomaterials with properties, such as self-assembly, recognition, catalysis, and actuation, are increasingly available. Peptide-based supramolecular systems chemistry is starting to address the far greater challenge of systems-level design to access complex functions that emerge when multiple reactions and interactions are coordinated and integrated. We discuss key features relevant to systems-level design, including regulating supramolecular order and disorder, development of active and adaptive systems by considering kinetic and thermodynamic design aspects and combinatorial dynamic covalent and noncovalent interactions. Finally, we discuss how structural and dynamic design concepts, including preorganization and induced fit, are critical to the ability to develop adaptive materials with adaptive and tunable photonic, electronic, and catalytic properties. Finally, we highlight examples where multiple features are combined, resulting in chemical systems and materials that display adaptive properties that cannot be achieved without this level of integration.

Keywords: aromatic peptide, biological-properties, chemical control, conformational-analysis, electronic transport, mechanical-properties, perylene bisimide, pro-hyp sequences, residues determine, Self-assembling peptide


Raymond Y, Bonany M, Lehmann C, Thorel E, Benítez R, Franch J, Espanol M, Solé-Martí X, Manzanares MC, Canal C, Ginebra MP, (2021). Hydrothermal processing of 3D-printed calcium phosphate scaffolds enhances bone formation in vivo: a comparison with biomimetic treatment Acta Biomaterialia 135, 671-688

Hydrothermal (H) processes accelerate the hydrolysis reaction of α-tricalcium phosphate (α-TCP) compared to the long-established biomimetic (B) treatments. They are of special interest for patient-specific 3D-printed bone graft substitutes, where the manufacturing time represents a critical constraint. Altering the reaction conditions has implications for the physicochemical properties of the reaction product. However, the impact of the changes produced by the hydrothermal reaction on the in vivo performance was hitherto unknown. The present study compares the bone regeneration potential of 3D-printed α-TCP scaffolds hardened using these two treatments in rabbit condyle monocortical defects. Although both consolidation processes resulted in biocompatible scaffolds with osseointegrative and osteoconductive properties, the amount of newly formed bone increased by one third in the hydrothermal vs the biomimetic samples. B and H scaffolds consisted mostly of high specific surface area calcium-deficient hydroxyapatite (38 and 27 m2 g-1, respectively), with H samples containing also 10 wt.% β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP). The shrinkage produced during the consolidation process was shown to be very small in both cases, below 3%, and smaller for H than for B samples. The differences in the in vivo performance were mainly attributed to the distinct crystallisation nanostructures, which proved to have a major impact on permeability and protein adsorption capacity, using BSA as a model protein, with B samples being highly impermeable. Given the crucial role that soluble proteins play in osteogenesis, this is proposed to be a relevant factor behind the distinct in vivo performances observed for the two materials. Statement of significance: The possibility to accelerate the consolidation of self-setting calcium phosphate inks through hydrothermal treatments has aroused great interest due to the associated advantages for the development of 3D-printed personalised bone scaffolds. Understanding the implications of this approach on the in vivo performance of the scaffolds is of paramount importance. This study compares, for the first time, this treatment to the long-established biomimetic setting strategy in terms of osteogenic potential in vivo in a rabbit model, and relates the results obtained to the physicochemical properties of the 3D-printed scaffolds (composition, crystallinity, nanostructure, nanoporosity) and their interaction with soluble proteins.

Keywords: 3d printing, behavior, biomimetic, bone scaffolds, calcium phosphate, deficient hydroxyapatite, design, graft, hydrothermal, in vivo, morbidity, osteoinduction, porosity, standard, tricalcium phosphate, 3d printing, Biomimetic, Bone scaffolds, Calcium phosphate, Fibula free-flap, Hydrothermal, In vivo


Brennan M, Monahan DS, Brulin B, Gallinetti S, Humbert P, Tringides C, Canal C, Ginebra MP, Layrolle P, (2021). Biomimetic versus sintered macroporous calcium phosphate scaffolds enhanced bone regeneration and human mesenchymal stromal cell engraftment in calvarial defects Acta Biomaterialia 135, 689-704

In contrast to sintered calcium phosphates (CaPs) commonly employed as scaffolds to deliver mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) targeting bone repair, low temperature setting conditions of calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) yield biomimetic topology with high specific surface area. In this study, the healing capacity of CDHA administering MSCs to bone defects is evaluated for the first time and compared with sintered beta-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) constructs sharing the same interconnected macroporosity. Xeno-free expanded human bone marrow MSCs attached to the surface of the hydrophobic β-TCP constructs, while infiltrating the pores of the hydrophilic CDHA. Implantation of MSCs on CaPs for 8 weeks in calvaria defects of nude mice exhibited complete healing, with bone formation aligned along the periphery of β-TCP, and conversely distributed within the pores of CDHA. Human monocyte-osteoclast differentiation was inhibited in vitro by direct culture on CDHA compared to β-TCP biomaterials and indirectly by administration of MSC-conditioned media generated on CDHA, while MSCs increased osteoclastogenesis in both CaPs in vivo. MSC engraftment was significantly higher in CDHA constructs, and also correlated positively with bone in-growth in scaffolds. These findings demonstrate that biomimetic CDHA are favorable carriers for MSC therapies and should be explored further towards clinical bone regeneration strategies. Statement of significance: Delivery of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) on calcium phosphate (CaP) biomaterials enhances reconstruction of bone defects. Traditional CaPs are produced at high temperature, but calcium deficient hydroxyapatite (CDHA) prepared at room temperature yields a surface structure more similar to native bone mineral. The objective of this study was to compare the capacity of biomimetic CDHA scaffolds with sintered β-TCP scaffolds for bone repair mediated by MSCs for the first time. In vitro, greater cell infiltration occurred in CDHA scaffolds and following 8 weeks in vivo, MSC engraftment was higher in CDHA compared to β-TCP, as was bone in-growth. These findings demonstrate the impact of material features such as surface structure, and highlight that CDHA should be explored towards clinical bone regeneration strategies.

Keywords: beta-tricalcium phosphate, bone regeneration, calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, differentiation, engraftment, human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells, hydroxyapatite scaffolds, in-vitro, inhibition, osteogenesis, osteoinduction, stem-cells, surface-topography, tissue, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bone regeneration, Calcium deficient hydroxyapatite, Engraftment, Human bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells


Rubí-Sans G, Nyga A, Rebollo E, Pérez-Amodio S, Otero J, Navajas D, Mateos-Timoneda MA, Engel E, (2021). Development of Cell-Derived Matrices for Three-Dimensional in Vitro Cancer Cell Models Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 44108-44123

Most morphogenetic and pathological processes are driven by cells responding to the surrounding matrix, such as its composition, architecture, and mechanical properties. Despite increasing evidence for the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) in tissue and disease development, many in vitro substitutes still fail to effectively mimic the native microenvironment. We established a novel method to produce macroscale (>1 cm) mesenchymal cell-derived matrices (CDMs) aimed to mimic the fibrotic tumor microenvironment surrounding epithelial cancer cells. CDMs are produced by human adipose mesenchymal stem cells cultured in sacrificial 3D scaffold templates of fibronectin-coated poly-lactic acid microcarriers (MCs) in the presence of macromolecular crowders. We showed that decellularized CDMs closely mimic the fibrillar protein composition, architecture, and mechanical properties of human fibrotic ECM from cancer masses. CDMs had highly reproducible composition made of collagen types I and III and fibronectin ECM with tunable mechanical properties. Moreover, decellularized and MC-free CDMs were successfully repopulated with cancer cells throughout their 3D structure, and following chemotherapeutic treatment, cancer cells showed greater doxorubicin resistance compared to 3D culture in collagen hydrogels. Collectively, these results support the use of CDMs as a reproducible and tunable tool for developing 3D in vitro cancer models.

Keywords: 3d cell-derived matrices, adipose mesenchymal stem cells, collagen matrix, colorectal adenocarcinoma, cytotoxicity assay, deposition, expansion, extracellular microenvironment, extracellular-matrix, fibronectin, growth, macromolecular crowders, microcarriers, scaffolds, tissue, 3d cell-derived matrices, Adipose mesenchymal stem cells, Cytotoxicity assay, Extracellular microenvironment, Macromolecular crowders, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Microcarriers


Manzano-Muñoz A, Alcon C, Menéndez P, Ramírez M, Seyfried F, Debatin KM, Meyer LH, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). MCL-1 Inhibition Overcomes Anti-apoptotic Adaptation to Targeted Therapies in B-Cell Precursor Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Frontiers In Cell And Developmental Biology 9,

Multiple targeted therapies are currently explored for pediatric and young adult B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP-ALL) treatment. However, this new armamentarium of therapies faces an old problem: choosing the right treatment for each patient. The lack of predictive biomarkers is particularly worrying for pediatric patients since it impairs the implementation of new treatments in the clinic. In this study, we used the functional assay dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP) to evaluate two new treatments for BCP-ALL that could improve clinical outcome, especially for relapsed patients. We found that the MEK inhibitor trametinib and the multi-target tyrosine kinase inhibitor sunitinib exquisitely increased apoptotic priming in an NRAS-mutant and in a KMT2A-rearranged cell line presenting a high expression of FLT3, respectively. Following these observations, we sought to study potential adaptations to these treatments. Indeed, we identified with DBP anti-apoptotic changes in the BCL-2 family after treatment, particularly involving MCL-1 – a pro-survival strategy previously observed in adult cancers. To overcome this adaptation, we employed the BH3 mimetic S63845, a specific MCL-1 inhibitor, and evaluated its sequential addition to both kinase inhibitors to overcome resistance. We observed that the metronomic combination of both drugs with S63845 was synergistic and showed an increased efficacy compared to single agents. Similar observations were made in BCP-ALL KMT2A-rearranged PDX cells in response to sunitinib, showing an analogous DBP profile to the SEM cell line. These findings demonstrate that rational sequences of targeted agents with BH3 mimetics, now extensively explored in clinical trials, may improve treatment effectiveness by overcoming anti-apoptotic adaptations in BCP-ALL.

Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cancer, dependence, increases, kinase inhibition, pediatric leukemia, precision medicine, resistance, sensitivity, targeted therapies, tumor-cells, venetoclax, Apoptosis, Bcl-2 family proteins, Bh3 mimetics, Pediatric leukemia, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Tura-Ceide O, Smolders VFED, Aventin N, Morén C, Guitart-Mampel M, Blanco I, Piccari L, Osorio J, Rodríguez C, Rigol M, Solanes N, Malandrino A, Kurakula K, Goumans MJ, Quax PHA, Peinado VI, Castellà M, Barberà JA, (2021). Derivation and characterisation of endothelial cells from patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension Scientific Reports 11, 18797-18797

Pulmonary endarterectomy (PEA) resected material offers a unique opportunity to develop an in vitro endothelial cell model of chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH). We aimed to comprehensively analyze the endothelial function, molecular signature, and mitochondrial profile of CTEPH-derived endothelial cells to better understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of endothelial dysfunction behind CTEPH, and to identify potential novel targets for the prevention and treatment of the disease. Isolated cells from specimens obtained at PEA (CTEPH-EC), were characterized based on morphology, phenotype, and functional analyses (in vitro and in vivo tubule formation, proliferation, apoptosis, and migration). Mitochondrial content, morphology, and dynamics, as well as high-resolution respirometry and oxidative stress, were also studied. CTEPH-EC displayed a hyperproliferative phenotype with an increase expression of adhesion molecules and a decreased apoptosis, eNOS activity, migration capacity and reduced angiogenic capacity in vitro and in vivo compared to healthy endothelial cells. CTEPH-EC presented altered mitochondrial dynamics, increased mitochondrial respiration and an unbalanced production of reactive oxygen species and antioxidants. Our study is the foremost comprehensive investigation of CTEPH-EC. Modulation of redox, mitochondrial homeostasis and adhesion molecule overexpression arise as novel targets and biomarkers in CTEPH.

Keywords: angiogenesis, cd31, dysfunction, expression, pathogenesis, thrombus, C-reactive protein


Soblechero-Martín P, Albiasu-Arteta E, Anton-Martinez A, de la Puente-Ovejero L, Garcia-Jimenez I, González-Iglesias G, Larrañaga-Aiestaran I, López-Martínez A, Poyatos-García J, Ruiz-Del-Yerro E, Gonzalez F, Arechavala-Gomeza V, (2021). Duchenne muscular dystrophy cell culture models created by CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and their application in drug screening Scientific Reports 11, 18188

Gene editing methods are an attractive therapeutic option for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and they have an immediate application in the generation of research models. To generate myoblast cultures that could be useful in in vitro drug screening, we have optimised a CRISPR/Cas9 gene edition protocol. We have successfully used it in wild type immortalised myoblasts to delete exon 52 of the dystrophin gene, modelling a common Duchenne muscular dystrophy mutation; and in patient’s immortalised cultures we have deleted an inhibitory microRNA target region of the utrophin UTR, leading to utrophin upregulation. We have characterised these cultures by demonstrating, respectively, inhibition of dystrophin expression and overexpression of utrophin, and evaluating the expression of myogenic factors (Myf5 and MyH3) and components of the dystrophin associated glycoprotein complex (α-sarcoglycan and β-dystroglycan). To demonstrate their use in the assessment of DMD treatments, we have performed exon skipping on the DMDΔ52-Model and have used the unedited DMD cultures/ DMD-UTRN-Model combo to assess utrophin overexpression after drug treatment. While the practical use of DMDΔ52-Model is limited to the validation to our gene editing protocol, DMD-UTRN-Model presents a possible therapeutic gene edition target as well as a useful positive control in the screening of utrophin overexpression drugs.

Keywords: expression, in-vitro, mouse model, muscle, mutations, phenotype, quantification, sarcolemma, therapy, Utrophin up-regulation


Puiggalí-Jou A, Babeli I, Roa JJ, Zoppe JO, Garcia-Amorós J, Ginebra MP, Alemán C, Garciá-Torres J, (2021). Remote Spatiotemporal Control of a Magnetic and Electroconductive Hydrogel Network via Magnetic Fields for Soft Electronic Applications ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 42486-42501

Multifunctional hydrogels are a class of materials offering new opportunities for interfacing living organisms with machines due to their mechanical compliance, biocompatibility, and capacity to be triggered by external stimuli. Here, we report a dual magnetic- and electric-stimuli-responsive hydrogel with the capacity to be disassembled and reassembled up to three times through reversible cross-links. This allows its use as an electronic device (e.g., temperature sensor) in the cross-linked state and spatiotemporal control through narrow channels in the disassembled state via the application of magnetic fields, followed by reassembly. The hydrogel consists of an interpenetrated polymer network of alginate (Alg) and poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), which imparts mechanical and electrical properties, respectively. In addition, the incorporation of magnetite nanoparticles (Fe3O4 NPs) endows the hydrogel with magnetic properties. After structural, (electro)chemical, and physical characterization, we successfully performed dynamic and continuous transport of the hydrogel through disassembly, transporting the polymer-Fe3O4 NP aggregates toward a target using magnetic fields and its final reassembly to recover the multifunctional hydrogel in the cross-linked state. We also successfully tested the PEDOT/Alg/Fe3O4 NP hydrogel for temperature sensing and magnetic hyperthermia after various disassembly/re-cross-linking cycles. The present methodology can pave the way to a new generation of soft electronic devices with the capacity to be remotely transported.

Keywords: conductive hydrogel, constructs, magnetic field, magnetite nanoparticle, nanoindentation, soft electronics, spatiotemporal control, Conductive hydrogel, Conductive hydrogels, Magnetic field, Magnetite nanoparticle, Soft electronics, Spatiotemporal control


Demirel B, Moulin-Frier C, Arsiwalla XD, Verschure PFMJ, Sánchez-Fibla M, (2021). Distinguishing Self, Other, and Autonomy From Visual Feedback: A Combined Correlation and Acceleration Transfer Analysis Frontiers In Human Neuroscience 15,

In cognitive science, Theory of Mind (ToM) is the mental faculty of assessing intentions and beliefs of others and requires, in part, to distinguish incoming sensorimotor (SM) signals and, accordingly, attribute these to either the self-model, the model of the other, or one pertaining to the external world, including inanimate objects. To gain an understanding of this mechanism, we perform a computational analysis of SM interactions in a dual-arm robotic setup. Our main contribution is that, under the common fate principle, a correlation analysis of the velocities of visual pivots is shown to be sufficient to characterize the self (including proximo-distal arm-joint dependencies) and to assess motor to sensory influences, and the other by computing clusters in the correlation dependency graph. A correlational analysis, however, is not sufficient to assess the non-symmetric/directed dependencies required to infer autonomy, the ability of entities to move by themselves. We subsequently validate 3 measures that can potentially quantify a metric for autonomy: Granger causality (GC), transfer entropy (TE), as well as a novel “Acceleration Transfer” (AT) measure, which is an instantaneous measure that computes the estimated instantaneous transfer of acceleration between visual features, from which one can compute a directed SM graph. Subsequently, autonomy is characterized by the sink nodes in this directed graph. This study results show that although TE can capture the directional dependencies, a rectified subtraction operation denoted, in this study, as AT is both sufficient and computationally cheaper.

Keywords: agency, attention, autonomy, cognitive development, computational cognition, developmental psychology, sensorimotor learning, Agency, Attention, Autonomy, Cognitive development, Computational cognition, Developmental psychology, Model, Sensorimotor learning, Theory of mind


del-Mazo-Barbara L, Ginebra MP, (2021). Rheological characterisation of ceramic inks for 3D direct ink writing: A review JOURNAL OF THE EUROPEAN CERAMIC SOCIETY 41, 18-33

3D printing is a competitive manufacturing technology, which has opened up new possibilities for the fabrication of complex ceramic structures and customised parts. Extrusion-based technologies, also known as direct ink writing (DIW) or robocasting, are amongst the most used for ceramic materials. In them, the rheological properties of the ink play a crucial role, determining both the extrudability of the paste and the shape fidelity of the printed parts. However, comprehensive rheological studies of printable ceramic inks are scarce and may be difficult to understand for non-specialists. The aim of this review is to provide an overview of the main types of ceramic ink formulations developed for DIW and a detailed description of the more relevant rheological tests for assessing the printability of ceramic pastes. Moreover, the key rheological parameters are identified and linked to printability aspects, including the values reported in the literature for different ink compositions.

Keywords: 3-dimensional structures, behavior, deposition, direct ink writing, freeform fabrication, gelation, glass scaffolds, mechanical-properties, printability, rheology, robocasting, suspensions, 3d printing, Direct ink writing, Phosphate scaffolds, Printability, Rheology, Robocasting


Caddeo C, Lucchesi D, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Valenti D, Penno G, Fadda AM, Pucci L, (2021). Efficacy of a resveratrol nanoformulation based on a commercially available liposomal platform INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PHARMACEUTICS 608

Scalability is one of the important factors slowing down or even impeding the clinical translation of nanoparticle-based systems. The latter need to be manufactured at a high level of quality, with batch-to-batch reproducibility, and need to be stable after the manufacturing process, during long-term storage and upon clinical administration. In this study, a vesicular formulation intended for cutaneous applications was developed by the easy reconstitution of a commercially available liposomal platform. Resveratrol, a naturally occurring compound with potent antioxidant activity, and Tween80, a hydrophilic non-ionic surfactant, were included in the formulation. The physico-chemical properties of the vesicles were assessed using light scattering and cryogenic transmission electron microscopy. Nanosized (around 80 nm) spherical and elongated, unilamellar vesicles were produced, with remarkable storage stability. The incorporation of resveratrol in the vesicular system did not alter its strong antioxidant activity, as demonstrated by antioxidant colorimetric assays (DPPH and FRAP). Furthermore, the resveratrol liposomes were cytocompatible with fibroblasts and capable of protecting skin cells from oxidative stress by reducing both endogenous and chemically induced reactive oxygen species more effectively than free resveratrol. Therefore, the proposed formulation, based on the use of a commercially available liposomal platform, represents an easy-to-prepare, reproducible, up-scaled and efficient means of delivering resveratrol and potentiating its biological activity in vitro.

Keywords: antioxidant, commercial liposomes, resveratrol, skin cells, skin delivery, Antioxidant, Commercial liposomes, Drug-delivery, Resveratrol, Skin cells, Skin delivery


Vukomanovic M, Cendra MdM, Baelo A, Torrents E, (2021). Nano-engineering stable contact-based antimicrobials: Chemistry at the interface between nano-gold and bacteria Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 208,

Contact-based antimicrobials, as antibiotic-free technologies that use non-specific interactions with bacterial cells to exert antimicrobial activity, are a prospective solution in fighting the global issue of bacterial resistance. A very simplified approach to their design considers the direct bonding of cationic guanidine-containing amino acids to the surface of nano-gold carriers. The structure enables antimicrobial activity due to a high density of cationic surface charges. This opens a set of novel questions that are important for their effective engineering, particularly regarding (i) chemistry and events that take place at the interface between NPs and cells, (ii) the direct influence of a charge (and its change) on interactions with bacterial and mammalian cells, and (iii) the stability of structures (and their antimicrobial activity) in the presence of enzymes, which are addressed in this paper. Because of the ability of amino acid-functionalized nano-gold to retain structural and functional activity, even after exposure to a range of physicochemical stimuli, they provide an excellent nanotechnological platform for designing highly effective contact-based antimicrobials and their applications.

Keywords: agents, antibiotic-free technology, arginine, charged amino acids, contact-based antimicrobials, discovery, enzyme-resistant antimicrobials, functionalized gold, peptides, polymers, resistant, Antibiotic-free technology, Charged amino acids, Contact-based antimicrobials, Enzyme-resistant antimicrobials, Functionalized gold, Nanoparticles


Freire R, Fernandez L, Mallafré-Muro C, Martín-Gómez A, Madrid-Gambin F, Oliveira L, Pardo A, Arce L, Marco S, (2021). Full workflows for the analysis of gas chromatography—ion mobility spectrometry in foodomics: Application to the analysis of iberian ham aroma SENSORS 21, 6156

Gas chromatography—ion mobility spectrometry (GC-IMS) allows the fast, reliable, and inexpensive chemical composition analysis of volatile mixtures. This sensing technology has been successfully employed in food science to determine food origin, freshness and preventing alimentary fraud. However, GC-IMS data is highly dimensional, complex, and suffers from strong non-linearities, baseline problems, misalignments, peak overlaps, long peak tails, etc., all of which must be corrected to properly extract the relevant features from samples. In this work, a pipeline for signal pre-processing, followed by four different approaches for feature extraction in GC-IMS data, is presented. More precisely, these approaches consist of extracting data features from: (1) the total area of the reactant ion peak chromatogram (RIC); (2) the full RIC response; (3) the unfolded sample matrix; and (4) the ion peak volumes. The resulting pipelines for data processing were applied to a dataset consisting of two different quality class Iberian ham samples, based on their feeding regime. The ability to infer chemical information from samples was tested by comparing the classification results obtained from partial least-squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) and the samples’ variable importance for projection (VIP) scores. The choice of a feature extraction strategy is a trade-off between the amount of chemical information that is preserved, and the computational effort required to generate the data models.

Keywords: authenticity, classification, electronic-nose, feature extraction, food analysis, gc-ims, headspace, least-squares, models, pld-da, pre-processing, quality, sensory analysis, wine, Feature extraction, Food analysis, Gc-ims, Hs-gc-ims, Pld-da, Pre-processing


Konka J, Buxadera-Palomero J, Espanol M, Ginebra M-P, (2021). 3D printing of hierarchical porous biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds: Adding concavities to the convex filaments Acta Biomaterialia 134, 744-759

Porosity plays a key role on the osteogenic performance of bone scaffolds. Direct Ink Writing (DIW) allows the design of customized synthetic bone grafts with patient-specific architecture and controlled macroporosity. Being an extrusion-based technique, the scaffolds obtained are formed by arrays of cylindrical filaments, and therefore have convex surfaces. This may represent a serious limitation, as the role of surface curvature and more specifically the stimulating role of concave surfaces in osteoinduction and bone growth has been recently highlighted. Hence the need to design strategies that allow the introduction of concave pores in DIW scaffolds. In the current study, we propose to add gelatin microspheres as a sacrificial material in a self-setting calcium phosphate ink. Neither the phase transformation responsible for the hardening of the scaffold nor the formation of characteristic network of needle-like hydroxyapatite crystals was affected by the addition of gelatin microspheres. The partial dissolution of the gelatin resulted in the creation of spherical pores throughout the filaments and exposed on the surface, increasing filament porosity from 0.2 % to 67.9 %. Moreover, the presence of retained gelatin proved to have a significant effect on the mechanical properties, reducing the strength but simultaneously giving the scaffolds an elastic behavior, despite the high content of ceramic as a continuous phase. Notwithstanding the inherent difficulty of in vitro cultures with this highly reactive material an enhancement of MG-63 cell proliferation, as well as better spreading of hMSCs was recorded on the developed scaffolds. Statement of significance: Recent studies have stressed the role that concave surfaces play in tissue regeneration and, more specifically, in osteoinduction and osteogenesis. Direct ink writing enables the production of patient-specific bone grafts with controlled architecture. However, besides many advantages, it has the serious limitation that the surfaces obtained are convex. In this article, for the first time we develop a strategy to introduce concave pores in the printed filaments of biomimetic hydroxyapatite by incorporation and partial dissolution of gelatin microspheres. The retention of part of the gelatin results in a more elastic behavior compared to the brittleness of hydroxyapatite scaffolds, while the needle-shaped nanostructure of biomimetic hydroxyapatite is maintained and gelatin-coated concave pores on the surface of the filaments enhance cell spreading. © 2021 The Authors

Keywords: 3d printing, bioceramics, biomimetic, bone, bone regeneration, concavity, concavity, bone regeneration, gelatin, hydrogel, hydroxyapatite, microspheres, osteoinduction, porosity, porous filament, substitutes, tissue-growth, 3d printing, Biomimetic, Calcium-phosphate scaffolds, Concavity, bone regeneration, Gelatin, Hydroxyapatite, Porous filament


Rial-Hermida MI, Rey-Rico A, Blanco-Fernandez B, Carballo-Pedrares N, Byrne EM, Mano JF, (2021). Recent Progress on Polysaccharide-Based Hydrogels for Controlled Delivery of Therapeutic Biomolecules Acs Biomaterials Science & Engineering 7, 4102-4127

A plethora of applications using polysaccharides have been developed in recent years due to their availability as well as their frequent nontoxicity and biodegradability. These polymers are usually obtained from renewable sources or are byproducts of industrial processes, thus, their use is collaborative in waste management and shows promise for an enhanced sustainable circular economy. Regarding the development of novel delivery systems for biotherapeutics, the potential of polysaccharides is attractive for the previously mentioned properties and also for the possibility of chemical modification of their structures, their ability to form matrixes of diverse architectures and mechanical properties, as well as for their ability to maintain bioactivity following incorporation of the biomolecules into the matrix. Biotherapeutics, such as proteins, growth factors, gene vectors, enzymes, hormones, DNA/RNA, and antibodies are currently in use as major therapeutics in a wide range of pathologies. In the present review, we summarize recent progress in the development of polysaccharide-based hydrogels of diverse nature, alone or in combination with other polymers or drug delivery systems, which have been implemented in the delivery of biotherapeutics in the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. © 2021 American Chemical Society.

Keywords: biodegradable dextran hydrogels, biotherapeutics, bone morphogenetic protein-2, carrageenan-based hydrogels, chitosan-based hydrogels, controlled delivery, controlled-release, cross-linked hydrogels, growth-factor delivery, hydrogels, in-vitro characterization, polysaccharides, self-healing hydrogel, stimuli-responsiveness, tissue engineering, Antibodies, Bioactivity, Biodegradability, Biomedical fields, Biomolecules, Biotherapeutics, Chemical modification, Circular economy, Controlled delivery, Controlled drug delivery, Delivery systems, Drug delivery system, Functional polymers, Hyaluronic-acid hydrogels, Hydrogels, Industrial processs, Polysaccharides, Recent progress, Renewable sources, Stimuli-responsiveness, Targeted drug delivery, Tissue engineering, Waste management


Llenas M, Paoli R, Feiner-Gracia N, Albertazzi L, Samitier J, Caballero D, (2021). Versatile vessel-on-a-chip platform for studying key features of blood vascular tumors Bioengineering (Basel) 8,

Tumor vessel-on-a-chip systems have attracted the interest of the cancer research community due to their ability to accurately recapitulate the multiple dynamic events of the metastatic cascade. Vessel-on-a-chip microfluidic platforms have been less utilized for investigating the distinctive features and functional heterogeneities of tumor-derived vascular networks. In particular, vascular tumors are characterized by the massive formation of thrombi and severe bleeding, a rare and life-threatening situation for which there are yet no clear therapeutic guidelines. This is mainly due to the lack of technological platforms capable of reproducing these characteristic traits of the pathology in a simple and well-controlled manner. Herein, we report the fabrication of a versatile tumor vessel-on-a-chip platform to reproduce, investigate, and characterize the massive formation of thrombi and hemorrhage on-chip in a fast and easy manner. Despite its simplicity, this method offers multiple advantages to recapitulate the pathophysiological events of vascular tumors, and therefore, may find useful applications in the field of vascular-related diseases, while at the same time being an alternative to more complex approaches. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: in vitro model, microfluidics, organ-on-chip, vascular tumor, vessel, In vitro model, Microfluidics, Organ-on-chip, Vascular tumor, Vessel


Boschker, HTS, Cook, PLM, Polerecky, L, Eachambadi, RT, Lozano, H, Hidalgo-Martinez, S, Khalenkow, D, Spampinato, V, Claes, N, Kundu, P, Wang, D, Bals, S, Sand, KK, Cavezza, F, Hauffman, T, Bjerg, JT, Skirtach, AG, Kochan, K, McKee, M, Wood, B, Bedolla, D, Gianoncelli, A, Geerlings, NMJ, Van Gerven, N, Remaut, H, Geelhoed, JS, Millan-Solsona, R, Fumagalli, L, Nielsen, LP, Franquet, A, Manca, JV, Gomila, G, Meysman, FJR, (2021). Efficient long-range conduction in cable bacteria through nickel protein wires Nature Communications 12,

Filamentous cable bacteria display long-range electron transport, generating electrical currents over centimeter distances through a highly ordered network of fibers embedded in their cell envelope. The conductivity of these periplasmic wires is exceptionally high for a biological material, but their chemical structure and underlying electron transport mechanism remain unresolved. Here, we combine high-resolution microscopy, spectroscopy, and chemical imaging on individual cable bacterium filaments to demonstrate that the periplasmic wires consist of a conductive protein core surrounded by an insulating protein shell layer. The core proteins contain a sulfur-ligated nickel cofactor, and conductivity decreases when nickel is oxidized or selectively removed. The involvement of nickel as the active metal in biological conduction is remarkable, and suggests a hitherto unknown form of electron transport that enables efficient conduction in centimeter-long protein structures. Filamentous cable bacteria conduct electrical currents over centimeter distances through fibers embedded in their cell envelope. Here, Boschker et al. show that the fibers consist of a conductive core containing nickel proteins that is surrounded by an insulating protein shell.

Keywords: Bacteria (microorganisms), Bacterial protein, Bacterial proteins, Bacterium, Chemistry, Deltaproteobacteria, Electric conductivity, Electricity, Electron, Electron transport, Metabolism, Microscopy, Nanowires, Nickel, Physiology, Protein, Resonance raman, Spectroscopy, Transport electrons


Andreu, I, Falcones, B, Hurst, S, Chahare, N, Quiroga, X, Le Roux, AL, Kechagia, Z, Beedle, AEM, Elosegui-Artola, A, Trepat, X, Farre, R, Betz, T, Almendros, I, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). The force loading rate drives cell mechanosensing through both reinforcement and cytoskeletal softening Nature Communications 12,

Cell response to force regulates essential processes in health and disease. However, the fundamental mechanical variables that cells sense and respond to remain unclear. Here we show that the rate of force application (loading rate) drives mechanosensing, as predicted by a molecular clutch model. By applying dynamic force regimes to cells through substrate stretching, optical tweezers, and atomic force microscopy, we find that increasing loading rates trigger talin-dependent mechanosensing, leading to adhesion growth and reinforcement, and YAP nuclear localization. However, above a given threshold the actin cytoskeleton softens, decreasing loading rates and preventing reinforcement. By stretching rat lungs in vivo, we show that a similar phenomenon may occur. Our results show that cell sensing of external forces and of passive mechanical parameters (like tissue stiffness) can be understood through the same mechanisms, driven by the properties under force of the mechanosensing molecules involved. Cells sense mechanical forces from their environment, but the precise mechanical variable sensed by cells is unclear. Here, the authors show that cells can sense the rate of force application, known as the loading rate, with effects on YAP nuclear localization and cytoskeletal stiffness remodelling.

Keywords: Actin cytoskeleton, Actin filament, Actin-filament, Adhesion, Animal, Animals, Atomic force microscopy, Breathing, Cell, Cell adhesion, Cell culture, Cell nucleus, Cells, cultured, Cytoplasm, Extracellular-matrix, Fibroblast, Fibroblasts, Fibronectin, Frequency, Gene knockdown, Gene knockdown techniques, Genetics, Germfree animal, Integrin, Intracellular signaling peptides and proteins, Knockout mouse, Lung, Male, Mechanotransduction, Mechanotransduction, cellular, Metabolism, Mice, Mice, knockout, Microscopy, atomic force, Mouse, Optical tweezers, Paxillin, Physiology, Primary cell culture, Pxn protein, mouse, Rat, Rats, Rats, sprague-dawley, Respiration, Signal peptide, Softening, Specific pathogen-free organisms, Sprague dawley rat, Stress, Substrate, Substrate rigidity, Talin, Talin protein, mouse, Tln2 protein, mouse, Traction, Transmission, Ultrastructure, Yap1 protein, rat


Riefolo, F, Sortino, R, Matera, C, Claro, E, Preda, B, Vitiello, S, Traserra, S, Jimenez, M, Gorostiza, P, (2021). Rational Design of Photochromic Analogues of Tricyclic Drugs JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL CHEMISTRY 64, 9259-9270

Tricyclic chemical structures are the core of many important drugs targeting all neurotransmitter pathways. These medicines enable effective therapies to treat from peptic ulcer disease to psychiatric disorders. However, when administered systemically, they cause serious adverse effects that limit their use. To obtain localized and on-demand pharmacological action using light, we have designed photoisomerizable ligands based on azobenzene that mimic the tricyclic chemical structure and display reversibly controlled activity. Pseudo-analogues of the tricyclic antagonist pirenzepine demonstrate that this is an effective strategy in muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, showing stronger inhibition upon illumination both in vitro and in cardiac atria ex vivo. Despite the applied chemical modifications to make pirenzepine derivatives sensitive to light stimuli, the most potent candidate of the set, cryptozepine-2, maintained a moderate but promising M-1 vs M-2 subtype selectivity. These photoswitchable crypto-azologs of tricyclic drugs might open a general way to spatiotemporally target their therapeutic action while reducing their systemic toxicity and adverse effects.

Keywords: Binding, M1, Pirenzepine, Rat-brain, Receptor


Cereta, AD, Oliveira, VR, Costa, IP, Guimaraes, LL, Afonso, JPR, Fonseca, AL, de Sousa, ART, Silva, GAM, Mello, DACPG, de Oliveira, LVF, da Palma, RK, (2021). Early Life Microbial Exposure and Immunity Training Effects on Asthma Development and Progression Frontiers Of Medicine 8, 662262

Asthma is the most common inflammatory disease affecting the lungs, which can be caused by intrauterine or postnatal insults depending on the exposure to environmental factors. During early life, the exposure to different risk factors can influence the microbiome leading to undesired changes to the immune system. The modulations of the immunity, caused by dysbiosis during development, can increase the susceptibility to allergic diseases. On the other hand, immune training approaches during pregnancy can prevent allergic inflammatory diseases of the airways. In this review, we focus on evidence of risk factors in early life that can alter the development of lung immunity associated with dysbiosis, that leads to asthma and affect childhood and adult life. Furthermore, we discuss new ideas for potential prevention strategies that can be applied during pregnancy and postnatal period.

Keywords: asthma, dysbiosis, early life immunity, lung microbiome, Adulthood, Antibiotic exposure, Asthma, Childhood, Disease, Disease exacerbation, Dysbiosis, Early life immunity, Gut microbiome, Human, Immunity, Intestine flora, Lung development, Lung microbiome, Lung microbiota, Nonhuman, Perinatal period, Pregnancy, Prevention, Prevention strategies, Review, Risk, Risk factor, Sensitization, Supplementation, Vitamin-d, Wheeze


Morgado, A, Najera, F, Lagunas, A, Samitier, J, Vida, Y, Perez-Inestrosa, E, (2021). Slightly congested amino terminal dendrimers. The synthesis of amide-based stable structures on a large scale Polymer Chemistry 12, 5168-5177

Nowadays, amino terminal dendrimers are appealing materials for biological applications due to their multivalence and the versatile conjugation of the amino groups. However, the high reactivity of these terminal groups can be decreased by steric hindrance, limiting their possible bioapplications. Herein, we report the divergent synthesis of slightly sterically hindered amino terminal polyamide dendrimers. A simple and unique AB(2) scaffold has been chosen to build the dendritic structures, where only amide bonds have been used as the connecting unit. The 1-7 relative positions of the amino groups in the AB(2) monomers avoid the steric congestion of the macromolecules, allowing the construction of robust dendrimers up to the fifth generation. The construction of the dendrimers is based on two well-established reactions, using simple and cheap reactants, with yields above 90% on a gram scale and easy purification procedures. This synthetic methodology constitutes an easy and efficient way for the preparation of stable and aqueous soluble dendrimers on a gram scale, representing a substantial improvement over the synthesis of this kind of aliphatic polyamide amino terminal dendrimer. The prepared structures were completely characterized and evaluated by size exclusion chromatography, diffusion ordered spectroscopy and atomic force microscopy to determine their size. Molecular dynamics simulations were also carried out and the values obtained were consistent with the experimentally determined values.

Keywords: Density, Discovery, Pamam dendrimers, Polymers


Ojosnegros, S, Seriola, A, Aroca, E, Godeau, A, Denkova, D, Casals, M, (2021). Globulin-rich protein supplements improve blastulation efficiency in culture and promote implantation in vitro Human Reproduction 36, 214-215

Parra-Monreal V, Ortega-Machuca MA, Ramin-Azcin J, Svendsen W, Romano-Rodriguez A, Moreno-Sereno M, (2021). Detection of cytokines in skeletal muscle tissue using optical SPR sensing platform Proceedings Of The 2021 13th Spanish Conference On Electron Devices, Cde 2021 , 102-105

In this work we have explored the use of a Surface Plasmon resonance (SPR) phenomenon for the detection of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine. It plays an important role in the muscle tissues, having direct relation with muscle contraction and, thus, it is considered a biomarker for some types of muscular dystrophies. Here we show that SPR can be used as a real-time monitoring of the shift of the reflectance dip of a gold diffraction grating in front to the antibody adhesion to gold.

Keywords: Antibodies, Gratings, Interleukin-6 (il-6), Proteins, Surface plasmon resonance


Mestre R, García N, Patiño T, Guix M, Fuentes J, Valerio-Santiago M, Almiñana N, Sánchez S, (2021). 3D-bioengineered model of human skeletal muscle tissue with phenotypic features of aging for drug testing purposes Biofabrication 13,

Three-dimensional engineering of skeletal muscle is becoming increasingly relevant for tissue engineering, disease modeling and bio-hybrid robotics, where flexible, versatile and multidisciplinary approaches for the evaluation of tissue differentiation, functionality and force measurement are required. This works presents a 3D-printed platform of bioengineered human skeletal muscle which can efficiently model the three-dimensional structure of native tissue, while providing information about force generation and contraction profiles. Proper differentiation and maturation of myocytes is demonstrated by the expression of key myo-proteins using immunocytochemistry and analyzed by confocal microscopy, and the functionality assessed via electrical stimulation and analysis of contraction kinetics. To validate the flexibility of this platform for complex tissue modeling, the bioengineered muscle is treated with tumor necrosis factor α to mimic the conditions of aging, which is supported by morphological and functional changes. Moreover, as a proof of concept, the effects of Argireline® Amplified peptide, a cosmetic ingredient that causes muscle relaxation, are evaluated in both healthy and aged tissue models. Therefore, the results demonstrate that this 3D-bioengineered human muscle platform could be used to assess morphological and functional changes in the aging process of muscular tissue with potential applications in biomedicine, cosmetics and bio-hybrid robotics.

Keywords: 3d bioprinting, bio-actuator, drug testing, human skeletal muscle, muscle ageing, platform, tnf-alpha, 3d bioprinting, Bio-actuator, Drug testing, Human skeletal muscle, Muscle ageing, Necrosis-factor-alpha


Zañudo JGT, Mao P, Alcon C, Kowalski K, Johnson GN, Xu G, Baselga J, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Montero J, Albert R, Wagle N, (2021). Cell line-specific network models of er breast cancer identify potential pi3kainhibitor resistance mechanisms and drug combinations CANCER RESEARCH 81, 4603-4617

Durable control of invasive solid tumors necessitates identifying therapeutic resistance mechanisms and effective drug combinations. In this work, we used a network-based mathematical model to identify sensitivity regulators and drug combinations for the PI3Ka inhibitor alpelisib in estrogen receptor positive (ER) PIK3CAmutant breast cancer. The model-predicted efficacious combination of alpelisib and BH3 mimetics, for example, MCL1 inhibitors, was experimentally validated in ER breast cancer cell lines. Consistent with the model, FOXO3 downregulation reduced sensitivity to alpelisib, revealing a novel potential resistance mechanism. Cell line-specific sensitivity to combinations of alpelisib and BH3 mimetics depended on which BCL2 family members were highly expressed. On the basis of these results, newly developed cell line-specific network models were able to recapitulate the observed differential response to alpelisib and BH3 mimetics. This approach illustrates how network-based mathematical models can contribute to overcoming the challenge of cancer drug resistance.

Keywords: activation, akt, feedback, foxo, leads, p27(kip1), phosphorylation, reveals, transcription factors, Dependent kinase inhibitor


Hamouda I, Labay C, Cvelbar U, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Selectivity of direct plasma treatment and plasma-conditioned media in bone cancer cell lines Scientific Reports 11, 17521

Atmospheric pressure plasma jets have been shown to impact several cancer cell lines, both in vitro and in vivo. These effects are based on the biochemistry of the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by plasmas in physiological liquids, referred to as plasma-conditioned liquids. Plasma-conditioned media are efficient in the generation of reactive species, inducing selective cancer cell death. However, the concentration of reactive species generated by plasma in the cell culture media of different cell types can be highly variable, complicating the ability to draw precise conclusions due to the differential sensitivity of different cells to reactive species. Here, we compared the effects of direct and indirect plasma treatment on non-malignant bone cells (hOBs and hMSCs) and bone cancer cells (SaOs-2s and MG63s) by treating the cells directly or exposing them to previously treated cell culture medium. Biological effects were correlated with the concentrations of reactive species generated in the liquid. A linear increase in reactive species in the cell culture medium was observed with increased plasma treatment time independent of the volume treated. Values up to 700 µM for H2O2 and 140 µM of NO2− were attained in 2 mL after 15 min of plasma treatment in AdvDMEM cell culture media. Selectivity towards bone cancer cells was observed after both direct and indirect plasma treatments, leading to a decrease in bone cancer cell viability at 72 h to 30% for the longest plasma treatment times while maintaining the survival of non-malignant cells. Therefore, plasma-conditioned media may represent the basis for a potentially novel non-invasive technique for bone cancer therapy.

Keywords: expression, in-vitro, jet, mechanisms, nitrate, nitrite, osteosarcoma cells, reactive oxygen, Cold atmospheric plasma


Alcon C, Gómez Tejeda Zañudo J, Albert R, Wagle N, Scaltriti M, Letai A, Samitier J, Montero J, (2021). ER+ Breast Cancer Strongly Depends on MCL-1 and BCL-xL Anti-Apoptotic Proteins Cells 10,

Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer and the major cause of mortality in women. The rapid development of various therapeutic options has led to the improvement of treatment outcomes; nevertheless, one-third of estrogen receptor (ER)-positive patients relapse due to cancer cell acquired resistance. Here, we use dynamic BH3 profiling (DBP), a functional predictive assay that measures net changes in apoptotic priming, to find new effective treatments for ER+ breast cancer. We observed anti-apoptotic adaptations upon treatment that pointed to metronomic therapeutic combinations to enhance cytotoxicity and avoid resistance. Indeed, we found that the anti-apoptotic proteins BCL-xL and MCL-1 are crucial for ER+ breast cancer cells resistance to therapy, as they exert a dual inhibition of the pro-apoptotic protein BIM and compensate for each other. In addition, we identified the AKT inhibitor ipatasertib and two BH3 mimetics targeting these anti-apoptotic proteins, S63845 and A-1331852, as new potential therapies for this type of cancer. Therefore, we postulate the sequential inhibition of both proteins using BH3 mimetics as a new treatment option for refractory and relapsed ER+ breast cancer tumors.

Keywords: apoptosis, bh3 mimetics, cell-line, chemotherapy, classification, dbp, death, er+ breast cancer, fulvestrant, her2, inhibitor, kinase, pik3ca, priming, resistance, targeted therapies, Apoptosis, Bh3 mimetics, Dbp, Endocrine therapy, Er plus breast cancer, Er+ breast cancer, Priming, Resistance, Targeted therapies


Castillo-Escario Y, Kumru H, Valls-Solé J, García-Alen L, Jané R, Vidal J, (2021). Quantitative evaluation of trunk function and the StartReact effect during reaching in patients with cervical and thoracic spinal cord injury Journal of Neural Engineering 18,

Objective. Impaired trunk stability is frequent in spinal cord injury (SCI), but there is a lack of quantitative measures for assessing trunk function. Our objectives were to: (a) evaluate trunk muscle activity and movement patterns during a reaching task in SCI patients, (b) compare the impact of cervical (cSCI) and thoracic (tSCI) injuries in trunk function, and (c) investigate the effects of a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS) in these patients. Approach. Electromyographic (EMG) and smartphone accelerometer data were recorded from 15 cSCI patients, nine tSCI patients, and 24 healthy controls, during a reaching task requiring trunk tilting. We calculated the response time (RespT) until pressing a target button, EMG onset latencies and amplitudes, and trunk tilt, lateral deviation, and other movement features from accelerometry. Statistical analysis was applied to analyze the effects of group (cSCI, tSCI, control) and condition (SAS, non-SAS) in each outcome measure. Main results. SCI patients, especially those with cSCI, presented significantly longer RespT and EMG onset latencies than controls. Moreover, in SCI patients, forward trunk tilt was accompanied by significant lateral deviation. RespT and EMG latencies were remarkably shortened by the SAS (the so-called StartReact effect) in tSCI patients and controls, but not in cSCI patients, who also showed higher variability. Significance. The combination of EMG and smartphone accelerometer data can provide quantitative measures for the assessment of trunk function in SCI. Our results show deficits in postural control and compensatory strategies employed by SCI patients, including delayed responses and higher lateral deviations, possibly to improve sitting balance. This is the first study investigating the StartReact responses in trunk muscles in SCI patients and shows that the SAS significantly accelerates RespT in tSCI, but not in cSCI, suggesting an increased cortical control exerted by these patients.

Keywords: accelerometer, electromyography, impairment, individuals, movements, postural stability, reaction-time, reliability, sitting balance, smartphone, spinal cord injury, startle, startreact, strategies, stroke, trunk, Accelerometer, Electromyography, Sitting balance, Smartphone, Spinal cord injury, Startreact, Trunk


Calò A, Eleta-Lopez A, Ondarçuhu T, Verdaguer A, Bittner AM, (2021). Nanoscale wetting of single viruses Molecules 26, 5184

The epidemic spread of many viral infections is mediated by the environmental conditions and influenced by the ambient humidity. Single virus particles have been mainly visualized by atomic force microscopy (AFM) in liquid conditions, where the effect of the relative humidity on virus topography and surface cannot be systematically assessed. In this work, we employed multi-frequency AFM, simultaneously with standard topography imaging, to study the nanoscale wetting of individual Tobacco Mosaic virions (TMV) from ambient relative humidity to water condensation (RH > 100%). We recorded amplitude and phase vs. distance curves (APD curves) on top of single virions at various RH and converted them into force vs. distance curves. The high sensitivity of multifrequency AFM to visualize condensed water and sub-micrometer droplets, filling gaps between individual TMV particles at RH > 100%, is demonstrated. Dynamic force spectroscopy allows detecting a thin water layer of thickness ⁓1 nm, adsorbed on the outer surface of single TMV particles at RH < 60%.

Keywords: amplitude-modulation am-afm, atomic-force microscopy, capillary, force reconstruction, multifrequency afm, nanoscale wetting, persistence, reconstruction, relative-humidity, surfaces, tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), tobamovirus, transmission, water, Amplitude-modulation am-afm, Force reconstruction, Multifrequency afm, Nanoscale wetting, Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), Tobacco mosaic virus (tmv), nanoscale wetting, Tobacco-mosaic-virus


Berishvili E, Casiraghi F, Amarelli C, Scholz H, Piemonti L, Berney T, Montserrat N, (2021). Mini-organs forum: how to advance organoid technology to organ transplant community TRANSPLANT INTERNATIONAL 34, 1588-1593

The generation of human mini-organs, the so-called organoids, is one of the biggest scientific advances in regenerative medicine. This technology exploits traditional three-dimensional culture techniques that support cell-autonomous self-organization responses of stem cells to derive micrometer to millimeter size versions of human organs. The convergence of the organoid technology with organ transplantation is still in its infancy but this alliance is expected to open new venues to change the way we conduct both transplant and organoid research. In this Forum we provide a summary on early achievements facilitating organoid derivation and culture. We further discuss on early advances of organoid transplantation also offering a comprehensive overview of current limitations and challenges to instruct organoid maturation. We expect that this Forum sets the ground for initial discussions between stem cell biologists, bioengineers, and the transplant community to better direct organoid basic research to advance the organ transplantation field.

Keywords: in-vitro, matrix, mice, organoids, regenerative medicine, vivo, Intestinal stem-cell, Organoids, Regenerative medicine


Pilat N, Lefsihane K, Brouard S, Kotsch K, Falk C, Steiner R, Thaunat O, Fusil F, Montserrat N, Amarelli C, Casiraghi F, (2021). T- and B-cell therapy in solid organ transplantation: current evidence and future expectations TRANSPLANT INTERNATIONAL 34, 1594-1606

Cell therapy has emerged as an attractive therapeutic option in organ transplantation. During the last decade, the therapeutic potency of Treg immunotherapy has been shown in various preclinical animal models and safety was demonstrated in first clinical trials. However, there are still critical open questions regarding specificity, survival, and migration to the target tissue so the best Treg population for infusion into patients is still under debate. Recent advances in CAR technology hold the promise for Treg-functional superiority. Another exciting strategy is the generation of B-cell antibody receptor (BAR) Treg/cytotoxic T cells to specifically regulate or deplete alloreactive memory B cells. Finally, B cells are also capable of immune regulation, making them promising candidates for immunomodulatory therapeutic strategies. This article summarizes available literature on cell-based innovative therapeutic approaches aiming at modulating alloimmune response for transplantation. Crucial areas of investigation that need a joined effort of the transplant community for moving the field toward successful achievement of tolerance are highlighted.

Keywords: allograft, autoimmune, b-cell antibody receptor t cells, chimeric antigen receptor tregs, expansion, expression, identification, infectious tolerance, mouse, prevention, regulatory b cells, regulatory t cells, signature, B-cell antibody receptor t cells, Chimeric antigen receptor tregs, Kidney-transplantation, Regulatory b cells, Regulatory t cells


Nashimoto Y, Abe M, Fujii R, Taira N, Ida H, Takahashi Y, Ino K, Ramon-Azcon J, Shiku H, (2021). Topography and Permeability Analyses of Vasculature-on-a-Chip Using Scanning Probe Microscopies Advanced Healthcare Materials 10

Microphysiological systems (MPS) or organs-on-chips (OoC) can emulate the physiological functions of organs in vitro and are effective tools for determining human drug responses in preclinical studies. However, the analysis of MPS has relied heavily on optical tools, resulting in difficulties in real-time and high spatial resolution imaging of the target cell functions. In this study, the role of scanning probe microscopy (SPM) as an analytical tool for MPS is evaluated. An access hole is made in a typical MPS system with stacked microchannels to insert SPM probes into the system. For the first study, a simple vascular model composed of only endothelial cells is prepared for SPM analysis. Changes in permeability and local chemical flux are quantitatively evaluated during the construction of the vascular system. The morphological changes in the endothelial cells after flow stimulation are imaged at the single-cell level for topographical analysis. Finally, the possibility of adapting the permeability and topographical analysis using SPM for the intestinal vascular system is further evaluated. It is believed that this study will pave the way for an in situ permeability assay and structural analysis of MPS using SPM.

Keywords: cell, electrochemical microscopy, membrane-permeability, microphysiological systems, organs-chips, platform, scanning electrochemical microscopy, scanning ion conductance microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, shear-stress, surface-topography, Ion conductance microscopy, Microphysiological systems, Organs-chips, Scanning electrochemical microscopy, Scanning ion conductance microscopy, Scanning probe microscopy


Freire IT, Amil AF, Vouloutsi V, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Towards sample-efficient policy learning with DAC-ML Procedia Computer Science 190, 256-262

The sample-inefficiency problem in Artificial Intelligence refers to the inability of current Deep Reinforcement Learning models to optimize action policies within a small number of episodes. Recent studies have tried to overcome this limitation by adding memory systems and architectural biases to improve learning speed, such as in Episodic Reinforcement Learning. However, despite achieving incremental improvements, their performance is still not comparable to how humans learn behavioral policies. In this paper, we capitalize on the design principles of the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory of mind and brain to build a novel cognitive architecture (DAC-ML) that, by incorporating a hippocampus-inspired sequential memory system, can rapidly converge to effective action policies that maximize reward acquisition in a challenging foraging task.

Keywords: Cognitive architecture, Distributed adaptive control, Reinforcement learning, Sample-inefficiency problem, Sequence learning


Puiggalí-Jou A, Molina BG, Lopes-Rodrigues M, Michaux C, Perpète EA, Zanuy D, Alemán C, (2021). Self-standing, conducting and capacitive biomimetic hybrid nanomembranes for selective molecular ion separation PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS 23, 16157-16164

Hybrid free-standing biomimetic materials are developed by integrating the VDAC36 β-barrel protein into robust and flexible three-layered polymer nanomembranes. The first and third layers are prepared by spin-coating a mixture of poly(lactic acid) (PLA) and poly(vinyl alcohol) (PVA). PVA nanofeatures are transformed into controlled nanoperforations by solvent-etching. The two nanoperforated PLA layers are separated by an electroactive layer, which is successfully electropolymerized by introducing a conducting sacrificial substrate under the first PLA nanosheet. Finally, the nanomaterial is consolidated by immobilizing the VDAC36 protein, active as an ion channel, into the nanoperforations of the upper layer. The integration of the protein causes a significant reduction of the material resistance, which decreases from 21.9 to 3.9 kΩ cm2. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy studies using inorganic ions and molecular metabolites (i.e.l-lysine and ATP) not only reveal that the hybrid films behave as electrochemical supercapacitors but also indicate the most appropriate conditions to obtain selective responses against molecular ions as a function of their charge. The combination of polymers and proteins is promising for the development of new devices for engineering, biotechnological and biomedical applications.

Keywords: channels, evolution, filter, Outer-membrane proteins


Calistri A, Luganini A, Mognetti B, Elder E, Sibille G, Conciatori V, Del Vecchio C, Sainas S, Boschi D, Montserrat N, Mirazimi A, Lolli ML, Gribaudo G, Parolin C, (2021). The new generation hdhodh inhibitor meds433 hinders the in vitro replication of sars-cov-2 and other human coronaviruses Microorganisms 9,

Although coronaviruses (CoVs) have long been predicted to cause zoonotic diseases and pandemics with high probability, the lack of effective anti-pan-CoVs drugs rapidly usable against the emerging SARS-CoV-2 actually prevented a promptly therapeutic intervention for COVID-19. Development of host-targeting antivirals could be an alternative strategy for the control of emerging CoVs infections, as they could be quickly repositioned from one pandemic event to another. To contribute to these pandemic preparedness efforts, here we report on the broad-spectrum CoVs antiviral activity of MEDS433, a new inhibitor of the human dihydroorotate dehydrogenase (hDHODH), a key cellular enzyme of the de novo pyrimidine biosynthesis pathway. MEDS433 in-hibited the in vitro replication of hCoV-OC43 and hCoV-229E, as well as of SARS-CoV-2, at low nanomolar range. Notably, the anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of MEDS433 against SARS-CoV-2 was also observed in kidney organoids generated from human embryonic stem cells. Then, the antiviral activity of MEDS433 was reversed by the addition of exogenous uridine or the product of hDHODH, the orotate, thus confirming hDHODH as the specific target of MEDS433 in hCoVs-infected cells. Taken together, these findings suggest MEDS433 as a potential candidate to develop novel drugs for COVID-19, as well as broad-spectrum antiviral agents exploitable for future CoVs threats.

Keywords: antiviral activity, biosynthesis, broad-spectrum antiviral, combination treatment, coronavirus, dipyridamole, hdhodh inhibitor, organoids, pyrimidine, pyrimidine biosynthesis, sars-cov-2, target, virus-infection, Antiviral activ-ity, Broad-spectrum antiviral, Combination treatment, Coronavirus, Gene-expression, Hdhodh inhibitor, Organoids, Pyrimidine biosynthesis, Sars-cov-2


Blanco-Cabra N, López-Martínez MJ, Arévalo-Jaimes BV, Martin-Gómez MT, Samitier J, Torrents E, (2021). A new BiofilmChip device for testing biofilm formation and antibiotic susceptibility Npj Biofilms And Microbiomes 7,

Currently, three major circumstances threaten the management of bacterial infections: increasing antimicrobial resistance, expansion of chronic biofilm-associated infections, and lack of an appropriate approach to treat them. To date, the development of accelerated drug susceptibility testing of biofilms and of new antibiofouling systems has not been achieved despite the availability of different methodologies. There is a need for easy-to-use methods of testing the antibiotic susceptibility of bacteria that form biofilms and for screening new possible antibiofilm strategies. Herein, we present a microfluidic platform with an integrated interdigitated sensor (BiofilmChip). This new device allows an irreversible and homogeneous attachment of bacterial cells of clinical origin, even directly from clinical specimens, and the biofilms grown can be monitored by confocal microscopy or electrical impedance spectroscopy. The device proved to be suitable to study polymicrobial communities, as well as to measure the effect of antimicrobials on biofilms without introducing disturbances due to manipulation, thus better mimicking real-life clinical situations. Our results demonstrate that BiofilmChip is a straightforward tool for antimicrobial biofilm susceptibility testing that could be easily implemented in routine clinical laboratories.

Keywords: cells, model, resistance, shear, technology, In-vitro


Palacios LS, Tchoumakov S, Guix M, Pagonabarraga I, Sánchez S, G Grushin A, (2021). Guided accumulation of active particles by topological design of a second-order skin effect Nature Communications 12, 4691

Collective guidance of out-of-equilibrium systems without using external fields is a challenge of paramount importance in active matter, ranging from bacterial colonies to swarms of self-propelled particles. Designing strategies to guide active matter and exploiting enhanced diffusion associated to its motion will provide insights for application from sensing, drug delivery to water remediation. However, achieving directed motion without breaking detailed balance, for example by asymmetric topographical patterning, is challenging. Here we engineer a two-dimensional periodic topographical design with detailed balance in its unit cell where we observe spontaneous particle edge guidance and corner accumulation of self-propelled particles. This emergent behaviour is guaranteed by a second-order non-Hermitian skin effect, a topologically robust non-equilibrium phenomenon, that we use to dynamically break detailed balance. Our stochastic circuit model predicts, without fitting parameters, how guidance and accumulation can be controlled and enhanced by design: a device guides particles more efficiently if the topological invariant characterizing it is non-zero. Our work establishes a fruitful bridge between active and topological matter, and our design principles offer a blueprint to design devices that display spontaneous, robust and predictable guided motion and accumulation, guaranteed by out-of-equilibrium topology.


Narciso M, Otero J, Navajas D, Farré R, Almendros I, Gavara N, (2021). Image-based method to quantify decellularization of tissue sections INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Tissue decellularization is typically assessed through absorbance-based DNA quantification after tissue digestion. This method has several disadvantages, namely its destructive nature and inadequacy in experimental situations where tissue is scarce. Here, we present an image processing algorithm for quantitative analysis of DNA content in (de)cellularized tissues as a faster, simpler and more comprehensive alternative. Our method uses local entropy measurements of a phase contrast image to create a mask, which is then applied to corresponding nuclei labelled (UV) images to extract average fluorescence intensities as an estimate of DNA content. The method can be used on native or decellularized tissue to quantify DNA content, thus allowing quantitative assessment of decellularization procedures. We confirm that our new method yields results in line with those obtained using the standard DNA quantification method and that it is successful for both lung and heart tissues. We are also able to accurately obtain a timeline of decreasing DNA content with increased incubation time with a decellularizing agent. Finally, the identified masks can also be applied to additional fluorescence images of immunostained proteins such as collagen or elastin, thus allowing further image-based tissue characterization.

Keywords: decellularization, differentiation, fluorescence image, image processing, microscopic image, Decellularization, Fluorescence image, Image processing, Matrix, Microscopic image, Segmentation


Mendoza MB, Gutierrez S, Ortiz R, Moreno DF, Dermit M, Dodel M, Rebollo E, Bosch M, Mardakheh FK, Gallego C, (2021). The elongation factor eEF1A2 controls translation and actin dynamics in dendritic spines Science Signaling 14

Synaptic plasticity involves structural modifications in dendritic spines that are modulated by local protein synthesis and actin remodeling. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms that connect synaptic stimulation to these processes. We found that the phosphorylation of isoform-specific sites in eEF1A2-an essential translation elongation factor in neurons-is a key modulator of structural plasticity in dendritic spines. Expression of a nonphosphorylatable eEF1A2 mutant stimulated mRNA translation but reduced actin dynamics and spine density. By contrast, a phosphomimetic eEF1A2 mutant exhibited decreased association with F-actin and was inactive as a translation elongation factor. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptor signaling triggered transient dissociation of eEF1A2 from its regulatory guanine exchange factor (GEF) protein in dendritic spines in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. We propose that eEF1A2 establishes a cross-talk mechanism that coordinates translation and actin dynamics during spine remodeling.

Keywords: cytoskeleton, expression, f-actin, factor 1-alpha, factor 1a, messenger-rna, nucleotide exchange, protein-synthesis, synaptic plasticity, Aminoacyl-transfer-rna


Noble Jesus C, Evans R, Forth J, Estarellas C, Gervasio FL, Battaglia G, (2021). Amphiphilic Histidine-Based Oligopeptides Exhibit pH-Reversible Fibril Formation ACS Macro Letters 10, 984-989

We report the design, simulation, synthesis, and reversible self-assembly of nanofibrils using polyhistidine-based oligopeptides. The inclusion of aromatic amino acids in the histidine block produces distinct antiparallel β-strands that lead to the formation of amyloid-like fibrils. The structures undergo self-assembly in response to a change in pH. This creates the potential to produce well-defined fibrils for biotechnological and biomedical applications that are pH-responsive in a physiologically relevant range.

Keywords: peptide, recognition, Amyloid fibrils


Balakrishnan H, Fabregas R, Millan-Solsona R, Fumagalli L, Gomila G, (2021). Spatial Resolution and Capacitive Coupling in the Characterization of Nanowire Nanocomposites by Scanning Dielectric Microscopy MICROSCOPY AND MICROANALYSIS 27, 1026-1034

Nanowire-based nanocomposite materials are being developed as transparent and flexible electrodes or as stretchable conductors and dielectrics for biosensing. Here, we theoretically investigate the use of scanning dielectric microscopy (SDM) to characterize these materials in a nondestructive way, with a special focus on the achievable spatial resolution and the possibility of detection of the capacitive coupling between nearby nanowires. Numerical calculations with models involving single and multiple buried nanowires have been performed. We demonstrate that the capacitance gradient spread function of a single buried nanowire consists of a modified Lorenzianan with a cubic decay. We show that the achievable spatial resolution can be determined with good accuracy with the help of this spread function. It is shown that, in general, the spatial resolution worsens when any system parameter decreases the maximum of the nanowire spread function or increases its width, or both. Finally, we show that SDM measurements are also sensitive to the capacitive coupling between nearby nanowires. This latter result is of utmost relevance since the macroscopic electric properties of nanowire nanocomposites largely depend on the electric interaction between nearby nanowires. The present results show that SDM can be a valuable nondestructive subsurface characterization technique for nanowire nanocomposite materials.

Keywords: depth, electrodes, nanocomposites, nanowires, sdm, spatial resolution, subsurface, tomography, Capacitive coupling, Force microscopy, Nanocomposites, Nanowires, Sdm, Spatial resolution, Subsurface


Villasante A, Robinson ST, Cohen AR, Lock R, Guo XE, Vunjak-Novakovic G, (2021). Human Serum Enhances Biomimicry of Engineered Tissue Models of Bone and Cancer Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 9,

For decades, fetal bovine serum (FBS) has been used routinely for culturing many cell types, based on its empirically demonstrated effects on cell growth, and the lack of suitable non-xenogeneic alternatives. The FBS-based culture media do not represent the human physiological conditions, and can compromise biomimicry of preclinical models. To recapitulate in vitro the features of human bone and bone cancer, we investigated the effects of human serum and human platelet lysate on modeling osteogenesis, osteoclastogenesis, and bone cancer in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) settings. For monitoring tumor growth within tissue-engineered bone in a non-destructive fashion, we generated cancer cell lines expressing and secreting luciferase. Culture media containing human serum enhanced osteogenesis and osteoclasts differentiation, and provided a more realistic in vitro mimic of human cancer cell proliferation. When human serum was used for building 3D engineered bone, the tissue recapitulated bone homeostasis and response to bisphosphonates observed in native bone. We found disparities in cell behavior and drug responses between the metastatic and primary cancer cells cultured in the bone niche, with the effectiveness of bisphosphonates observed only in metastatic models. Overall, these data support the utility of human serum for bioengineering of bone and bone cancers.

Keywords: 3d cancer models, 3rs, alpha tnf-alpha, culture, cypridina luciferase, ewings-sarcoma, ewing’s sarcoma, human platelet lysate, human serum, human tumor, in-vitro, osteogenic differentiation, stem-cells, zoledronic acid, 3d cancer models, 3rs, Cypridina luciferase, Ewing's sarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, Fetal bovine serum, Human serum


Falcones B, Sanz-Fraile H, Marhuenda E, Mendizábal I, Cabrera-Aguilera I, Malandain N, Uriarte JJ, Almendros I, Navajas D, Weiss DJ, Farré R, Otero J, (2021). Bioprintable lung extracellular matrix hydrogel scaffolds for 3d culture of mesenchymal stromal cells Polymers 13,

Mesenchymal stromal cell (MSC)-based cell therapy in acute respiratory diseases is based on MSC secretion of paracrine factors. Several strategies have proposed to improve this are being explored including pre-conditioning the MSCs prior to administration. We here propose a strategy for improving the therapeutic efficacy of MSCs based on cell preconditioning by growing them in native extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from the lung. To this end, a bioink with tunable stiffness based on decellularized porcine lung ECM hydrogels was developed and characterized. The bioink was suitable for 3D culturing of lung-resident MSCs without the need for additional chemical or physical crosslinking. MSCs showed good viability, and contraction assays showed the existence of cell–matrix interactions in the bioprinted scaffolds. Adhesion capacity and length of the focal adhesions formed were increased for the cells cultured within the lung hydrogel scaffolds. Also, there was more than a 20-fold increase of the expression of the CXCR4 receptor in the 3D-cultured cells compared to the cells cultured in plastic. Secretion of cytokines when cultured in an in vitro model of lung injury showed a decreased secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators for the cells cultured in the 3D scaffolds. Moreover, the morphology of the harvested cells was markedly different with respect to conventionally (2D) cultured MSCs. In conclusion, the developed bioink can be used to bioprint structures aimed to improve preconditioning MSCs for therapeutic purposes.

Keywords: 3d bioprinting, acute lung injury, adhesion, collagen, differentiation, dimension, elastic properties, extracellular matrix, hydrogels, in-vitro, mechanical-properties, mesenchymal stromal cells, microenvironment, potentiate, tissue engineering, 3d bioprinting, Acute lung injury, Extracellular matrix, Hydrogels, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Stem-cells, Tissue engineering


Alcaraz J, Ikemori R, Llorente A, Díaz-valdivia N, Reguart N, Vizoso M, (2021). Epigenetic reprogramming of tumor-associated fibroblasts in lung cancer: Therapeutic opportunities Cancers 13,

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The desmoplastic stroma of lung cancer and other solid tumors is rich in tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) exhibiting an activated/myofibroblast-like phenotype. There is growing awareness that TAFs support key steps of tumor progression and are epigenetically reprogrammed compared to healthy fibroblasts. Although the mechanisms underlying such epigenetic reprogramming are incompletely understood, there is increasing evidence that they involve interactions with either cancer cells, pro-fibrotic cytokines such as TGF-β, the stiffening of the surrounding extracellular matrix, smoking cigarette particles and other environmental cues. These aberrant interactions elicit a global DNA hypomethylation and a selective transcriptional repression through hypermethylation of the TGF-β transcription factor SMAD3 in lung TAFs. Likewise, similar DNA methylation changes have been reported in TAFs from other cancer types, as well as histone core modifications and altered microRNA expression. In this review we summarize the evidence of the epigenetic reprogramming of TAFs, how this reprogramming contributes to the acquisition and maintenance of a tumor-promoting phenotype, and how it provides novel venues for therapeutic intervention, with a special focus on lung TAFs.

Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts, desmoplasia, dna methylation, epigenetics, expression, genomic dna, lung cancer, mechanical memory, myofibroblast differentiation, pulmonary fibroblasts, smoking, stromal fibroblasts, tgf-?, tgf-beta, transforming growth-factor-beta-1, tumor stroma, Cancer-associated fibroblasts, Carcinoma-associated fibroblasts, Desmoplasia, Epigenetics, Lung cancer, Smoking, Tgf-β, Tumor stroma


Villasante A, Godier-Furnemont A, Hernandez-Barranco A, Coq JL, Boskovic J, Peinado H, Mora J, Samitier J, Vunjak-Novakovic G, (2021). Horizontal transfer of the stemness-related markers EZH2 and GLI1 by neuroblastoma-derived extracellular vesicles in stromal cells Translational Research 237, 82-97

Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial pediatric solid cancer originating from undifferentiated neural crest cells. NB cells express EZH2 and GLI1 genes that are known to maintain the undifferentiated phenotype of cancer stem cells (CSC) in NB. Recent studies suggest that tumor-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) can regulate the transformation of surrounding cells into CSC by transferring tumor-specific molecules they contain. However, the horizontal transfer of EVs molecules in NB remains largely unknown. We report the analysis of NB-derived EVs in bioengineered models of NB that are based on a collagen 1/hyaluronic acid scaffold designed to mimic the native tumor niche. Using these models, we observed an enrichment of GLI1 and EZH2 mRNAs in NB-derived EVs. As a consequence of the uptake of NB-derived EVs, the host cells increased the expression levels of GLI1 and EZH2. These results suggest the alteration of the expression profile of stromal cells through an EV-based mechanism, and point the GLI1 and EZH2 mRNAs in the EV cargo as diagnostic biomarkers in NB.

Keywords: exosomes, genes, lines, maintenance, pathway, proliferation, rna, stemness, tumor, Cancer


De Matteis V, Cascione M, Rizzello L, Manno DE, Di Guglielmo C, Rinaldi R, (2021). Synergistic effect induced by gold nanoparticles with polyphenols shell during thermal therapy: Macrophage inflammatory response and cancer cell death assessment Cancers 13,

Background: In recent decades, gold nanoparticle (Au NP)-based cancer therapy has been heavily debated. The physico-chemical properties of AuNPs can be exploited in photothermal therapy, making them a powerful tool for selectively killing cancer cells. However, the synthetic side products and capping agents often induce a strong activation of the inflammatory pathways of macrophages, thus limiting their further applications in vivo. Methods: Here, we described a green method to obtain stable polyphenol-capped AuNPs (Au NPs@polyphenols), as polyphenols are known for their anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. These NPs were used in human macrophages to test key inflammation-related markers, such as NF-κB, TNF-α, and interleukins-6 and 8. The results were compared with similar NPs obtained by a traditional chemical route (without the polyphenol coating), proving the potential of Au NPs@polyphenols to strongly promote the shutdown of inflammation. This was useful in developing them for use as heat-synergized tools in the thermal treatment of two types of cancer cells, namely, breast cancer (MCF-7) and neuroblastoma (SH-SY5Y) cells. The cell viability, calcium release, oxidative stress, HSP-70 expression, mitochondrial, and DNA damage, as well as cytoskeleton alteration, were evaluated. Results: Our results clearly demonstrate that the combined strategy markedly exerts anticancer effects against the tested cancer cell, while neither of the single treatments (only heat or only NPs) induced significant changes. Conclusions: Au NP@polyphenols may be powerful agents in cancer treatment.

Keywords: antioxidant, aunps, biocompatibility, biology, calcium, cancer, green synthesis, inflammation response, inhibition, interleukin-6, mechanisms, natural polyphenols, physico-chemical properties, polyphenols, size, thermal treatment, Aunps, Cancer, Green synthesis, Inflammation response, Nobilis l. leaves, Physico-chemical properties, Polyphenols, Thermal treatment


Xu D, Hu J, Pan X, Sánchez S, Yan X, Ma X, (2021). Enzyme-Powered Liquid Metal Nanobots Endowed with Multiple Biomedical Functions Acs Nano 15, 11543-11554

Catalytically powered micro/nanobots (MNBs) can perform active movement by harnessing energy from in situ chemical reactions and show tremendous potential in biomedical applications. However, the development of imageable MNBs that are driven by bioavailable fuels and possess multiple therapeutic functions remains challenging. To resolve such issues, we herein propose enzyme (urease) powered liquid metal (LM) nanobots that are naturally of multiple therapeutic functions and imaging signals. The main body of the nanobot is composed of a biocompatible LM nanoparticle encapsulated by polydopamine (PDA). Urease enzyme needed for the powering and desired drug molecules, e.g., cefixime trihydrate antibiotic, are grafted on external surfaces of the PDA shell. Such a chemical composition endows the nanobots with dual-mode ultrasonic (US) and photoacoustic (PA) imaging signals and favorable photothermal effect. These LM nanobots exhibit positive chemotaxis and therefore can be collectively guided along a concentration gradient of urea for targeted transportation. When exposed to NIR light, the LM nanobots would deform and complete the function change from active drug carriers to photothermal reagents, to achieve synergetic antibacterial treatment by both photothermal and chemotherapeutic effects. The US and PA properties of the LM nanoparticle can be used to not only track and monitor the active movement of the nanobots in a microfluidic vessel model but also visualize their dynamics in the bladder of a living mouse in vivo. To conclude, the LM nanobots demonstrated herein represent a proof-of-concept therapeutic nanosystem with multiple biomedical functionalities, providing a feasible tool for preclinical studies and clinical trials of MNB-based imaging-guided therapy.

Keywords: cell, chemo-photothermal therapy, chemotaxis, image tracking, liquid metal nanobots, nanomotors, tracking, Chemo-photothermal therapy, Chemotaxis, Image tracking, Liquid metal nanobots, Nanomotors


Madsen BS, Thiele M, Detlefsen S, Kjaergaard M, Møller LS, Trebicka J, Nielsen MJ, Gudmann NS, Leeming DJ, Karsdal MA, Krag A, GALAXY consortium, (2021). PRO-C3 and ADAPT algorithm accurately identify patients with advanced fibrosis due to alcohol-related liver disease Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 54, 699-708

Background: Alcohol is a main cause of preventable deaths and frequently leads to the development of alcohol-related liver disease. Due to the lack of diagnostics, patients are commonly diagnosed after developing clinical manifestations. Recently, the biomarker PRO-C3 was shown to accurately identify fibrosis due to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Aim: To assess the diagnostic accuracy of PRO-C3, the ADAPT score and best-performing non-patented serological test to detect advanced alcohol-related liver fibrosis. Methods: We enrolled 426 patients with alcohol overuse in a prospective biopsy-controlled study. We evaluated the accuracy of PRO-C3 and the PRO-C3-based algorithm ADAPT to detect advanced liver fibrosis. Results: The accuracy of PRO-C3 was good with an AUROC of 0.85 (95% CI 0.79-0.90). The best-performing non-patented test was the Forns index with an AUROC of 0.83 (95% CI 0.78-0.89). The ADAPT algorithm performed better as compared to both the Forns index and PRO-C3 alone with an AUROC = 0.88 (95% CI 0.83-0.93). Conclusion: PRO-C3 is a new marker with high accuracy to detect advanced alcohol-related liver fibrosis. The diagnostic accuracy of PRO-C3 can be further improved by using the ADAPT algorithm in which the test outperforms currently available non-patented serological fibrosis markers. The study is registered in the Odense Patient Data Exploratory Network (OPEN) under study identification numbers OP_040 (https://open.rsyd.dk/OpenProjects/da/openProject.jsp?openNo=40) and OP_239 (https://open.rsyd.dk/OpenProjects/openProject.jsp?openNo=239&lang=da).

Keywords: mortality, Collagen


Pérez-González C, Ceada G, Greco F, Matejcic M, Gómez-González M, Castro N, Menendez A, Kale S, Krndija D, Clark AG, Gannavarapu VR, Álvarez-Varela A, Roca-Cusachs P, Batlle E, Vignjevic DM, Arroyo M, Trepat X, (2021). Mechanical compartmentalization of the intestinal organoid enables crypt folding and collective cell migration NATURE CELL BIOLOGY 23, 745-757

Intestinal organoids capture essential features of the intestinal epithelium such as crypt folding, cellular compartmentalization and collective movements. Each of these processes and their coordination require patterned forces that are at present unknown. Here we map three-dimensional cellular forces in mouse intestinal organoids grown on soft hydrogels. We show that these organoids exhibit a non-monotonic stress distribution that defines mechanical and functional compartments. The stem cell compartment pushes the extracellular matrix and folds through apical constriction, whereas the transit amplifying zone pulls the extracellular matrix and elongates through basal constriction. The size of the stem cell compartment depends on the extracellular-matrix stiffness and endogenous cellular forces. Computational modelling reveals that crypt shape and force distribution rely on cell surface tensions following cortical actomyosin density. Finally, cells are pulled out of the crypt along a gradient of increasing tension. Our study unveils how patterned forces enable compartmentalization, folding and collective migration in the intestinal epithelium. Perez-Gonzalez et al. explore the mechanical properties of intestinal organoids, and report the existence of distinct mechanical domains and that cells are pulled out of the central crypt along a gradient of increasing tension.

Keywords: Forces, Growth, Gut, Monolayers, Morphogenesis, Reveal, Stem-cells, Tension


Jurado, M, Castano, O, Zorzano, A, (2021). Stochastic modulation evidences a transitory EGF-Ras-ERK MAPK activity induced by PRMT5 COMPUTERS IN BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 133,

The extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway involves a three-step cascade of kinases that transduce signals and promote processes such as cell growth, development, and apoptosis. An aberrant response of this pathway is related to the proliferation of cell diseases and tumors. By using simulation modeling, we document that the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) modulates the MAPK pathway and thus avoids an aberrant behavior. PRMT5 methylates the Raf kinase, reducing its catalytic activity and thereby, reducing the activation of ERK in time and amplitude. Two minimal computational models of the epidermal growth factor (EGF)-Ras-ERK MAPK pathway influenced by PRMT5 were proposed: a first model in which PRMT5 is activated by EGF and a second one in which PRMT5 is stimulated by the cascade response. The reported results show that PRMT5 reduces the time duration and the expression of the activated ERK in both cases, but only in the first model PRMT5 limits the EGF range that generates an ERK activation. Based on our data, we propose the protein PRMT5 as a regulatory factor to develop strategies to fight against an excessive activity of the MAPK pathway, which could be of use in chronic diseases and cancer.

Keywords: cancer, cell response modulation, computational model, egf-ras-erk signaling route, mapk pathway, methylation, Arginine methyltransferase 5, Cancer, Cell response modulation, Colorectal-cancer, Computational model, Egf-ras-erk signaling route, Epidermal-growth-factor, Factor receptor, Histone h3, Kinase cascade, Mapk pathway, Methylation, Negative-feedback, Pc12 cells, Prmt5, Protein, Signal-transduction


Velasco-Mallorqui, F, Rodriguez-Comas, J, Ramon-Azcon, J, (2021). Cellulose-based scaffolds enhance pseudoislets formation and functionality Biofabrication 13,

In vitro research for the study of type 2 diabetes (T2D) is frequently limited by the availability of a functional model for islets of Langerhans. To overcome the limitations of obtaining pancreatic islets from different sources, such as animal models or human donors, immortalized cell lines as the insulin-producing INS1E beta-cells have appeared as a valid alternative to model insulin-related diseases. However, immortalized cell lines are mainly used in flat surfaces or monolayer distributions, not resembling the spheroid-like architecture of the pancreatic islets. To generate islet-like structures, the use of scaffolds appeared as a valid tool to promote cell aggregations. Traditionally-used hydrogel encapsulation methods do not accomplish all the requisites for pancreatic tissue engineering, as its poor nutrient and oxygen diffusion induces cell death. Here, we use cryogelation technology to develop a more resemblance scaffold with the mechanical and physical properties needed to engineer pancreatic tissue. This study shows that carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) cryogels prompted cells to generate beta-cell clusters in comparison to gelatin-based scaffolds, that did not induce this cell organization. Moreover, the high porosity achieved with CMC cryogels allowed us to create specific range pseudoislets. Pseudoislets formed within CMC-scaffolds showed cell viability for up to 7 d and a better response to glucose over conventional monolayer cultures. Overall, our results demonstrate that CMC-scaffolds can be used to control the organization and function of insulin-producing beta-cells, representing a suitable technique to generate beta-cell clusters to study pancreatic islet function.

Keywords: biomaterial, cryogel, pancreatic islets, scaffold, tissue engineering, ?-cell, Architecture, Beta-cell, Beta-cell heterogeneity, Biomaterial, Carboxymethyl cellulose, Cell culture, Cell death, Cell engineering, Cell organization, Cells, Cellulose, Cryogel, Cryogels, Cytoarchitecture, Delivery, Encapsulation methods, Gelation, Gene-expression, Immortalized cells, Insulin, Insulin secretory responses, Islets of langerhans, Mechanical and physical properties, Monolayer culture, Monolayers, Pancreatic islets, Pancreatic tissue, Pancreatic-islets, Proliferation, Scaffold, Scaffolds, Scaffolds (biology), Size, Tissue, Tissue engineering


Rodríguez-Contreras A, Torres D, Rafik B, Ortiz-Hernandez M, Ginebra MP, Calero JA, Manero JM, Ruperez E, (2021). Bioactivity and antibacterial properties of calcium- and silver-doped coatings on 3D printed titanium scaffolds SURFACE & COATINGS TECHNOLOGY 421

One of the major problems faced by metallic implants is the high probability of bacterial infections, with significant consequences for the patient. In this work, a thermochemical treatment is proposed to obtain silver-doped calcium titanate coatings on the Ti surface to improve the bioactivity of porous 3D-printed Ti structures and simultaneously provide them with antibacterial properties. A complete characterization of the new coating, the study of the ion release and the analysis of its cytotoxicity were carried out together with evaluation of the natural apatite forming in simulated body fluid (SBF). Moreover, the antibacterial properties of the coatings were assessed against Pseudomona aeruginosa and Escherichia coli as gram-negative and Staphylococcus aureus and Staphylococcus epidermidis as gram-positive bacterial strains. Ag ions were integrated into the Ca titanate layer and Ag nanoparticles were formed within the entire 3D Ti surface. Ca and Ag ions were released from both porous and solid samples into the Hanks' solution for 48 h. The treated surfaces showed no cytotoxicity and an apatite layer precipitated on the entire porous surface when the samples were immersed in SBF. The release of Ag from the surface had a strong antibacterial effect and prevented bacterial adhesion and proliferation on the surface. Moreover, the nanostructured topography of the coating resulted also in a reduction of bacterial adhesion and proliferation, even in absence of Ag. In conclusion, the cost-effective approach here reported provided protection against the most predominant bacterial colonizers to the Ti porous implants, while maintaining their bioactivity.

Keywords: 3d-printing, alkaline, antibacterial activity, arthroplasty, bacterial adhesion, biomaterials, generation, ions, nanoparticles, osseointegration, silver, surface-layer, titanium implants, toxicity, 3d-printing, Antibacterial activity, Biomaterials, Porous structures, Silver, Ti metal, Titanium implants


Avalos-Padilla Y, Georgiev VN, Dimova R, (2021). ESCRT-III induces phase separation in model membranes prior to budding and causes invagination of the liquid-ordered phase Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes 1863

Membrane fission triggered by the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) is an important process observed in several pathogenic and non-pathogenic cellular events. From a synthetic-biology viewpoint, ESCRT proteins represent an interesting machinery for the construction of cell mimetic sub-compartments produced by fission. Since their discovery, the studies on ESCRT-III-mediated action, have mainly focused on protein dynamics, ignoring the role of lipid organization and membrane phase state. Recently, it has been suggested that membrane buds formed by the action of ESCRT-III are generated from transient microdomains in endosomal membranes. However, the interplay between membrane domain formation and ESCRT remodeling pathways has not been investigated. Here, giant unilamellar vesicles made of ternary lipid mixtures, either homogeneous in phase or exhibiting liquid-ordered/liquid-disordered phase coexistence, were employed as a model membrane system. These vesicles were incubated with purified recombinant ESCRT-III proteins from the parasite Entamoeba histolytica. In homogeneous membranes, we observe that EhVps32 can trigger domain formation while EhVps20 preferentially co-localizes in the liquid disordered phase. The addition of EhVps24 appears to induce the formation of intraluminal vesicles produced from the liquid-ordered phase. In phase separated membranes, the intraluminal vesicles are also generated from the liquid-ordered phase and presumably emerge from the phase boundary region. Our findings reinforce the hypothesis that ESCRT-mediated remodeling depends on the membrane phase state. Furthermore, the obtained results point to a potential synthetic biology approach for establishing eukaryotic mimics of artificial cells with microcompartments of specific membrane composition, which can also differ from that of the mother vesicle.

Keywords: cell-membranes, coexistence, complex, escrt-iii, fission, guvs, lipid domains, lipid rafts, membrane fission, microcompartments, microscopy, phase separation, plasma-membrane, protein microarrays, structural basis, ternary mixtures, Escrt-iii, Giant unilamellar vesicles, Guvs, Lipid domains, Membrane fission, Microcompartments, Phase separation, Ternary mixtures


Ferrer I, Andrés-Benito P, Ausín K, Pamplona R, del Rio JA, Fernández-Irigoyen J, Santamaría E, (2021). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation: A determining condition in the continuum of brain aging and Alzheimer's disease BRAIN PATHOLOGY 31,

Tau hyperphosphorylation is the first step of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) formation. In the present study, samples of the entorhinal cortex (EC) and frontal cortex area 8 (FC) of cases with NFT pathology classified as stages I–II, III–IV, and V–VI without comorbidities, and of middle-aged (MA) individuals with no NFT pathology, were analyzed by conventional label-free and SWATH-MS (sequential window acquisition of all theoretical fragment ion spectra mass spectrometry) to assess the (phospho)proteomes. The total number of identified dysregulated phosphoproteins was 214 in the EC, 65 of which were dysregulated at the first stages (I–II) of NFT pathology; 167 phosphoproteins were dysregulated in the FC, 81 of them at stages I–II of NFT pathology. A large percentage of dysregulated phosphoproteins were identified in the two regions and at different stages of NFT progression. The main group of dysregulated phosphoproteins was made up of components of the membranes, cytoskeleton, synapses, proteins linked to membrane transport and ion channels, and kinases. The present results show abnormal phosphorylation of proteins at the first stages of NFT pathology in the elderly (in individuals clinically considered representative of normal aging) and sporadic Alzheimer's disease (sAD). Dysregulated protein phosphorylation in the FC precedes the formation of NFTs and SPs. The most active period of dysregulated phosphorylation is at stages III–IV when a subpopulation of individuals might be clinically categorized as suffering from mild cognitive impairment which is a preceding determinant stage in the progression to dementia. Altered phosphorylation of selected proteins, carried out by activation of several kinases, may alter membrane and cytoskeletal functions, among them synaptic transmission and membrane/cytoskeleton signaling. Besides their implications in sAD, the present observations suggest a molecular substrate for “benign” cognitive deterioration in “normal” brain aging.

Keywords: (phospho)proteomics, alzheimer's disease, amyloid-beta, association guidelines, brain aging, cytoskeleton, frontal-cortex, kinases, lipid rafts, membranes, national institute, neuropathologic assessment, pathological process, protein phosphorylation, synapse pathology, synapses, tau, tau pathology, (phospho)proteomics, Age-related tauopathy, Alzheimer's disease, Brain aging, Cytoskeleton, Kinases, Membranes, Protein phosphorylation, Synapses, Tau


Rizzuto V, Mencattini A, Álvarez-González B, Di Giuseppe D, Martinelli E, Beneitez-Pastor D, Mañú-Pereira MDM, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Samitier J, (2021). Combining microfluidics with machine learning algorithms for RBC classification in rare hereditary hemolytic anemia Scientific Reports 11,

Combining microfluidics technology with machine learning represents an innovative approach to conduct massive quantitative cell behavior study and implement smart decision-making systems in support of clinical diagnostics. The spleen plays a key-role in rare hereditary hemolytic anemia (RHHA), being the organ responsible for the premature removal of defective red blood cells (RBCs). The goal is to adapt the physiological spleen filtering strategy for in vitro study and monitoring of blood diseases through RBCs shape analysis. Then, a microfluidic device mimicking the slits of the spleen red pulp area and video data analysis are combined for the characterization of RBCs in RHHA. This microfluidic unit is designed to evaluate RBC deformability by maintaining them fixed in planar orientation, allowing the visual inspection of RBC's capacity to restore their original shape after crossing microconstrictions. Then, two cooperative learning approaches are used for the analysis: the majority voting scheme, in which the most voted label for all the cell images is the class assigned to the entire video; and the maximum sum of scores to decide the maximally scored class to assign. The proposed platform shows the capability to discriminate healthy controls and patients with an average efficiency of 91%, but also to distinguish between RHHA subtypes, with an efficiency of 82%.

Keywords: chip, disease, Red-blood-cell


Ferrer-Lluis I, Castillo-Escario Y, Montserrat JM, Jané R, (2021). SleepPos app: An automated smartphone application for angle based high resolution sleep position monitoring and treatment SENSORS 21, 4531

Poor sleep quality or disturbed sleep is associated with multiple health conditions. Sleep position affects the severity and occurrence of these complications, and positional therapy is one of the less invasive treatments to deal with them. Sleep positions can be self-reported, which is unreliable, or determined by using specific devices, such as polysomnography, polygraphy or cameras, that can be expensive and difficult to employ at home. The aim of this study is to determine how smartphones could be used to monitor and treat sleep position at home. We divided our research into three tasks: (1) develop an Android smartphone application (‘SleepPos’ app) which monitors angle-based high-resolution sleep position and allows to simultaneously apply positional treatment; (2) test the smartphone application at home coupled with a pulse oximeter; and (3) explore the potential of this tool to detect the positional occurrence of desaturation events. The results show how the ‘SleepPos’ app successfully determined the sleep position and revealed positional patterns of occurrence of desaturation events. The ‘SleepPos’ app also succeeded in applying positional therapy and preventing the subjects from sleeping in the supine sleep position. This study demonstrates how smartphones are capable of reliably monitoring high-resolution sleep position and provide useful clinical information about the positional occurrence of desaturation events.

Keywords: accelerometry, android, apnea patients, app, association, biomedical signal processing, management, mhealth, monitoring, pathophysiology, pilot mhealth, questionnaire, sleep position, smartphone, supine position, time, Accelerometry, Android, App, Biomedical signal processing, Mhealth, Monitoring, Sleep position, Smart-phone, Smartphone, Tennis ball technique


Casellas NM, Albertazzi L, Pujals S, Torres T, García-Iglesias M, (2021). Unveiling Polymerization Mechanism in pH-regulated Supramolecular Fibers in Aqueous Media CHEMISTRY-A EUROPEAN JOURNAL 27, 11056-11060

An amine functionalized C3-symmetric benzotrithiophene (BTT) monomer has been designed and synthetized in order to form pH responsive one-dimensional supramolecular polymers in aqueous media. While most of the reported studies looked at the effect of pH on the size of the aggregates, herein, a detailed mechanistic study is reported, carried out upon modifying the pH to trigger the formation of positively charged ammonium groups. A dramatic and reversible change in the polymerization mechanism and size of the supramolecular fibers is observed and ascribed to the combination of Coulombic repulsive forces and higher monomer solubility. Furthermore, the induced frustrated growth of the fibers is further employed to finely control the one-dimensional supramolecular polymerisation and copolymerization processes.

Keywords: dynamics, ph responsivity, polymerization mechanism, self-assembly, supramolecular chemistry, supramolecular polymers, Ph responsivity, Polymerization mechanism, Polymers, Self-assembly, Supramolecular chemistry, Supramolecular polymers


Andrian T, Delcanale P, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Correlating Super-Resolution Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy Reveals Multiparametric Heterogeneity in Nanoparticles NANO LETTERS 21, 5360-5368

The functionalization of nanoparticles with functional moieties is a key strategy to achieve cell targeting in nanomedicine. The interplay between size and ligand number is crucial for the formulation performance and needs to be properly characterized to understand nanoparticle structure-activity relations. However, there is a lack of methods able to measure both size and ligand number at the same time and at the single particle level. Here, we address this issue by introducing a correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM) method combining super-resolution microscopy (SRM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) imaging. We apply our super-resCLEM method to characterize the relationship between size and ligand number and density in PLGA-PEG nanoparticles. We highlight how heterogeneity found in size can impact ligand distribution and how a significant part of the nanoparticle population goes completely undetected in the single-technique analysis. Super-resCLEM holds great promise for the multiparametric analysis of other parameters and nanomaterials.

Keywords: cellular uptake, correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), density, electron microscopy (em), functionalization, heterogeneity, nanomedicine, nanoparticles, pegylation, plga, progress, quantification, size, Correlative light and electron microscopy (clem), Electron microscopy (em), Heterogeneity, Nanomedicine, Nanoparticles, Physicochemical characterization, Super-resolution microscopy (srm)


Raymond Y, Thorel E, Liversain M, Riveiro A, Pou J, Ginebra MP, (2021). 3D printing non-cylindrical strands: Morphological and structural implications Additive Manufacturing 46,

Conventional direct ink writing uses circular nozzles and, therefore, results in cylindrical strands. 3D printing with non-circular nozzles adds new degrees of freedom to this versatile technology, and allows obtaining structures with higher specific surface area or even introducing concave surfaces in the printed architecture. This is an enticing prospect for countless applications, including tissue engineering, chemical reaction catalysts, water evaporators and electrochemical energy storage devices. Despite this, it has been hardly explored by the 3D-printing community. Herein, we develop for the first time 3D printed structures with complex filament section morphologies using a custom-made modular nozzle and a self-setting ceramic ink. The fast elastic recovery of the ink allows obtaining good shape fidelity in the printed filaments, permitting the creation of intricate surfaces with up to 30% concavity and increasing up to 2.5 times the specific surface area compared to cylindrical strands. The use of non-circular nozzles introduces some specific constraints in the printing process. The geometry of the nozzle determines the stable printing directions, and nozzle orientation becomes a critical parameter to achieve a stable printing. Strand torsion, a phenomenon that remains unnoticed with circular nozzles, may result in relevant changes in the geometrical features of the printed structures.

Keywords: calcium phosphate, ceramic, ceramics, flow, geometry, microextrusion, robocasting, Calcium phosphate, Ceramic, Direct ink writing, Microextrusion, Robocasting, Scaffolds


Mares AG, Pacassoni G, Marti JS, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Formulation of tunable size PLGA-PEG nanoparticles for drug delivery using microfluidic technology PLoS One 16,

Amphiphilic block co-polymer nanoparticles are interesting candidates for drug delivery as a result of their unique properties such as the size, modularity, biocompatibility and drug loading capacity. They can be rapidly formulated in a nanoprecipitation process based on self-assembly, resulting in kinetically locked nanostructures. The control over this step allows us to obtain nanoparticles with tailor-made properties without modification of the co-polymer building blocks. Furthermore, a reproducible and controlled formulation supports better predictability of a batch effectiveness in preclinical tests. Herein, we compared the formulation of PLGA-PEG nanoparticles using the typical manual bulk mixing and a microfluidic chip-assisted nanoprecipitation. The particle size tunability and controllability in a hydrodynamic flow focusing device was demonstrated to be greater than in the manual dropwise addition method. We also analyzed particle size and encapsulation of fluorescent compounds, using the common bulk analysis and advanced microscopy techniques: Transmission Electron Microscopy and Total Internal Reflection Microscopy, to reveal the heterogeneities occurred in the formulated nanoparticles. Finally, we performed in vitro evaluation of obtained NPs using MCF-7 cell line. Our results show how the microfluidic formulation improves the fine control over the resulting nanoparticles, without compromising any appealing property of PLGA nanoparticle. The combination of microfluidic formulation with advanced analysis methods, looking at the single particle level, can improve the understanding of the NP properties, heterogeneities and performance.

Keywords: controlled-release, doxorubicin, encapsulation, functional nanoparticles, nanoprecipitation, pharmacokinetics, polymeric nanoparticles, shape, surface-chemistry, In-vitro


Tringides CM, Vachicouras N, de Lázaro I, Wang H, Trouillet A, Seo BR, Elosegui-Artola A, Fallegger F, Shin Y, Casiraghi C, Kostarelos K, Lacour SP, Mooney DJ, (2021). Viscoelastic surface electrode arrays to interface with viscoelastic tissues Nature Nanotechnology 16, 1019-1029

Living tissues are non-linearly elastic materials that exhibit viscoelasticity and plasticity. Man-made, implantable bioelectronic arrays mainly rely on rigid or elastic encapsulation materials and stiff films of ductile metals that can be manipulated with microscopic precision to offer reliable electrical properties. In this study, we have engineered a surface microelectrode array that replaces the traditional encapsulation and conductive components with viscoelastic materials. Our array overcomes previous limitations in matching the stiffness and relaxation behaviour of soft biological tissues by using hydrogels as the outer layers. We have introduced a hydrogel-based conductor made from an ionically conductive alginate matrix enhanced with carbon nanomaterials, which provide electrical percolation even at low loading fractions. Our combination of conducting and insulating viscoelastic materials, with top-down manufacturing, allows for the fabrication of electrode arrays compatible with standard electrophysiology platforms. Our arrays intimately conform to the convoluted surface of the heart or brain cortex and offer promising bioengineering applications for recording and stimulation.

Keywords: tough, Alginate


Muro S, (2021). Drug delivery systems: A few examples of applications, drug cargoes, and administration routes Current Pharmaceutical Design 27, 1975-1976

López-Canosa A, Perez-Amodio S, Yanac-Huertas E, Ordoño J, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier J, Castaño O, Engel E, (2021). A microphysiological system combining electrospun fibers and electrical stimulation for the maturation of highly anisotropic cardiac tissue Biofabrication 13,

The creation of cardiac tissue models for preclinical testing is still a non-solved problem in drug discovery, due to the limitations related to thein vitroreplication of cardiac tissue complexity. Among these limitations, the difficulty of mimicking the functional properties of the myocardium due to the immaturity of the used cells hampers the obtention of reliable results that could be translated into human patients.In vivomodels are the current gold standard to test new treatments, although it is widely acknowledged that the used animals are unable to fully recapitulate human physiology, which often leads to failures during clinical trials. In the present work, we present a microfluidic platform that aims to provide a range of signaling cues to immature cardiac cells to drive them towards an adult phenotype. The device combines topographical electrospun nanofibers with electrical stimulation in a microfabricated system. We validated our platform using a co-culture of neonatal mouse cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts, showing that it allows us to control the degree of anisotropy of the cardiac tissue inside the microdevice in a cost-effective way. Moreover, a 3D computational model of the electrical field was created and validated to demonstrate that our platform is able to closely match the distribution obtained with the gold standard (planar electrode technology) using inexpensive rod-shaped biocompatible stainless-steel electrodes. The functionality of the electrical stimulation was shown to induce a higher expression of the tight junction protein Cx-43, as well as the upregulation of several key genes involved in conductive and structural cardiac properties. These results validate our platform as a powerful tool for the tissue engineering community due to its low cost, high imaging compatibility, versatility, and high-throughput configuration capabilities.

Keywords: bioreactor, cardiac tissue engineering, cardiomyocytes, electrospinning, fabrication, fibroblasts, heart-on-a-chip, heart-tissue, in vitro models, myocardium, orientation, platform, scaffolds, Cardiac tissue engineering, Electrospinning, Field stimulation, Heart-on-a-chip, In vitro models, Microphysiological system


de Oliveira LF, Braga SCGN, Augusto F, Poppi RJ, (2021). Correlating comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography volatile profiles of chocolate with sensory analysis Brazilian Journal Of Analytical Chemistry 8, 131-140

The identification of key components relevant to sensory perception of quality from commercial chocolate samples was accomplished after chemometric processing of GC×GC-MS (Comprehensive Two-dimensional Gas Chromatography with Mass Spectrometric Detection) profiles corresponding to HS-SPME (Headspace Solid Phase Microextraction) extracts of the samples. Descriptive sensory evaluation of samples was carried out using Optimized Descriptive Profile (ODP) procedures, where sensory attributes of 24 commercial chocolate samples were used to classify them in two classes (low and high chocolate flavor). 2D Fisher Ratio analysis was applied to four-way chromatographic data tensors (1st dimension retention time 1tR × 2nd dimension retention time 2tR × m/z × sample), to identify the crucial areas on the chromatograms that resulted on ODP class separation on Principal Component Analysis (PCA) scores plot. Comparing the relevant sections of the chromatograms to the analysis of the corresponding mass spectra, it was possible to assess that most of the information regarding the sample main sensory attributes can be related to only 14 compounds (2,5-dimethylpyrazine, 2,6-dimethyl-4-heptanol, 1-octen-3-ol, trimethylpyrazine, β-pinene, o-cimene, 2-ethyl-3,5-dimethylpyrazine, tetramethylpyrazine, benzaldehyde, 1,3,5-trimethylbenzene, 6-methyl-5-hepten-2-one, limonene, benzeneethanol and 1,1-dimethylbutylbenzene) among the complex blend of volatiles found on these extremely complex samples.

Keywords: classification, cocoa, dark chocolate, feature-selection, fisher ratio, gcxgc-ms, impact, olfactometry, principal component analysis, sensorial analysis, Chocolate flavor, Fisher ratio, Flight mass-spectrometry, Gc×gc-ms, Principal component analysis, Sensorial analysis


Oliveira LVF, Apostólico N, Uriarte JJ, Da Palma RK, Prates RA, Deana AM, Ferreira LR, Afonso JPR, De Paula Vieira R, De Oliveira Júnior MC, Navajas D, Farré R, Lopes-Martins RAB, (2021). Photodynamic Therapy in the Extracellular Matrix of Mouse Lungs: Preliminary Results of an Alternative Tissue Sterilization Process International Journal Of Photoenergy 2021,

Lung transplantation is one of the most difficult and delicate procedures among organ transplants. For the success of the procedure and survival of the new organ, the sterilization step for acellular lungs prior to recellularization is important to ensure that they are free of any risk of transmitting infections from the donor to the recipient subject. However, there are no available information concerning the lung mechanical parameters after sterilizing photodynamic therapy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the extracellular matrix (ECM) and lung mechanical parameters of decellularized lungs undergoing sterilizing photodynamic therapy (PDT). Besides, we also analyzed the lung after controlled infection with C. albicans in order to evaluate the effectiveness of PDT. The lung mechanical evaluation parameters, resistance (RL) and elastance (EL), exhibited no significant differences between groups. In addition, there were no PDT-induced changes in lung properties, with maintenance of the viscoelastic behavior of the lung scaffold after 1 h exposure to PDT. The ECM components remained virtually unchanged in the acellular lungs of both groups. We also showed that there was a reduction in fungal infection population after 45 minutes of PDT. However, more studies should be performed to establish and verify the effectiveness of PDT as a possible means for sterilizing lung scaffolds. This manuscript was presented as a master thesis of Nadua Apostólico at the postgraduate program in rehabilitation sciences, University Nove de Julho - UNINOVE.

Keywords: candida, combination, inactivation, infections, mechanics, Gamma-irradiation


Alert R, Trepat X, (2021). Living cells on the move Physics Today 74, 30-36

Freire IT, Urikh D, Arsiwalla XD, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Machine morality: From harm-avoidance to human-robot cooperation Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 116-127

We present a new computational framework for modeling moral decision-making in artificial agents based on the notion of ‘Machine Morality as Cooperation’. This framework integrates recent advances from cross-disciplinary moral decision-making literature into a single architecture. We build upon previous work outlining cognitive elements that an artificial agent would need for exhibiting latent morality, and we extend it by providing a computational realization of the cognitive architecture of such an agent. Our work has implications for cognitive and social robotics. Recent studies in human neuroimaging have pointed to three different decision-making processes, Pavlovian, model-free and model-based, that are defined by distinct neural substrates in the brain. Here, we describe how computational models of these three cognitive processes can be implemented in a single cognitive architecture by using the distributed and hierarchical organization proposed by the DAC theoretical framework. Moreover, we propose that a pro-social drive to cooperate exists at the Pavlovian level that can also bias the rest of the decision system, thus extending current state-of-the-art descriptive models based on harm-aversion.

Keywords: Cognitive architectures, Cognitive robotics, Computational models, Human-robot interaction, Moral decision-making, Morality


Amil AF, Puigbò JY, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Cholinergic control of chaos and evidence sensitivity in a neocortical model of perceptual decision-making Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 92-96

Perceptual decision-making in the brain is commonly modeled as a competition among tuned cortical populations receiving stimulation according to their perceptual evidence. However, the contribution of evidence on the decisionmaking process changes through time. In this regard, the mechanisms controlling the sensitivity to perceptual evidence remain unknown. Here we explore this issue by using a biologically constrained model of the neocortex performing a dualchoice perceptual discrimination task.We combine mutual and globalGABAergic inhibition, which are differentially regulated by acetylcholine (ACh), a neuromodulator linked to enhanced stimulus discriminability. We find that, while mutual inhibition determines the phase-space separation between two stable attractors representing each stimulus, global inhibition controls the formation of a chaotic attractor in-between the two, effectively protecting the weakest stimulus. Hence, under low ACh levels, where global inhibition dominates, the decision-making process is chaotic and less determined by the difference between perceptual evidences. On the contrary, under high ACh levels, where mutual inhibition dominates, the network becomes very sensitive to small differences between stimuli. Our results are in line with the putative role of ACh in enhanced stimulus discriminability and suggest that ACh levels control the sensitivity to sensory inputs by regulating the amount of chaos.

Keywords: Acetylcholine, Chaos, Cortical model, Decision-making


Vouloutsi V, Chesson A, Blancas M, Guerrero O, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). The use of social sensorimotor contingencies in humanoid robots Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 378-389

This pilot study investigates the role of social sensorimotor contingencies as exhibited from a humanoid robot to allow mutual understanding and social entrainment in a group social activity. The goal is to evaluate whether sensorimotor contingencies can lead to transparent and understandable interactions while we explore the dimension of personality. We propose the task of taking a selfie with a robot and a group of humans as the benchmark to evaluate the social sensorimotor contingencies displayed. We have constructed two models of interaction with an introverted and extroverted robot. We also seek to address the gap in research in context and personality of social sensorimotor contingencies in HRI and contribute to the field of personality in social robotics by determining what type of behaviour of the robot attracts certain personalities in humans in group settings. Although the sample size was small, and there were no significant differences between conditions, results suggest that the expression of sensorimotor contingencies can lead to successful coupling and interactions.

Keywords: Human-robot interaction, Personality, Social robots, Social sensorimotor contingencies


Rosado OG, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Distributed adaptive control: An ideal cognitive architecture candidate for managing a robotic recycling plant Lecture Notes In Computer Science 12413 LNAI, 153-164

In the past decade, society has experienced notable growth in a variety of technological areas. However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not been embraced yet. Industry 4.0 imposes several challenges which include the necessity of new architectural models to tackle the uncertainty that open environments represent to cyber-physical systems (CPS).Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plants stand for one of such open environments. Here, CPSs must work harmoniously in a changing environment, interacting with similar and not so similar CPSs, and adaptively collaborating with human workers. In this paper, we support the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory as a suitable Cognitive Architecture for managing a recycling plant. Specifically, a recursive implementation of DAC (between both single-agent and large-scale levels) is proposed to meet the expected demands of the European Project HR-Recycler. Additionally, with the aim of having a realistic benchmark for future implementations of the recursive DAC, a micro-recycling plant prototype is presented.

Keywords: Cognitive architecture, Distributed adaptive control, Human-robot interaction, Motor control, Navigation, Recycling plant


Di Muzio M, Millan-Solsona R, Dols-Perez A, Borrell JH, Fumagalli L, Gomila G, (2021). Dielectric properties and lamellarity of single liposomes measured by in-liquid scanning dielectric microscopy JOURNAL OF NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY 19,

Liposomes are widely used as drug delivery carriers and as cell model systems. Here, we measure the dielectric properties of individual liposomes adsorbed on a metal electrode by in-liquid scanning dielectric microscopy in force detection mode. From the measurements the lamellarity of the liposomes, the separation between the lamellae and the specific capacitance of the lipid bilayer can be obtained. As application we considered the case of non-extruded DOPC liposomes with radii in the range ~ 100–800 nm. Uni-, bi- and tri-lamellar liposomes have been identified, with the largest population corresponding to bi-lamellar liposomes. The interlamellar separation in the bi-lamellar liposomes is found to be below ~ 10 nm in most instances. The specific capacitance of the DOPC lipid bilayer is found to be ~ 0.75 µF/cm2 in excellent agreement with the value determined on solid supported planar lipid bilayers. The lamellarity of the DOPC liposomes shows the usual correlation with the liposome's size. No correlation is found, instead, with the shape of the adsorbed liposomes. The proposed approach offers a powerful label-free and non-invasive method to determine the lamellarity and dielectric properties of single liposomes. [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Keywords: constant, force, lamellarity, liposomes, membrane capacitance, model, nanoscale, scanning dielectric microscopy, Lamellarity, Liposomes, Membrane capacitance, Nanoscale, Polarization properties, Scanning dielectric microscopy


Lovell-Badge R, Anthony E, Barker RA, Bubela T, Brivanlou AH, Carpenter M, Charo RA, Clark A, Clayton E, Cong Y, Daley GQ, Fu J, Fujita M, Greenfield A, Goldman SA, Hill L, Hyun I, Isasi R, Kahn J, Kato K, Kim JS, Kimmelman J, Knoblich JA, Mathews D, Montserrat N, Mosher J, Munsie M, Nakauchi H, Naldini L, Naughton G, Niakan K, Ogbogu U, Pedersen R, Rivron N, Rooke H, Rossant J, Round J, Saitou M, Sipp D, Steffann J, Sugarman J, Surani A, Takahashi J, Tang F, Turner L, Zettler PJ, Zhai X, (2021). ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation: The 2021 update Stem Cell Reports 16, 1398-1408

The International Society for Stem Cell Research has updated its Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation in order to address advances in stem cell science and other relevant fields, together with the associated ethical, social, and policy issues that have arisen since the last update in 2016. While growing to encompass the evolving science, clinical applications of stem cells, and the increasingly complex implications of stem cell research for society, the basic principles underlying the Guidelines remain unchanged, and they will continue to serve as the standard for the field and as a resource for scientists, regulators, funders, physicians, and members of the public, including patients. A summary of the key updates and issues is presented here.

Keywords: self-organization, Human embryo research


Hyun I, Clayton EW, Cong Y, Fujita M, Goldman SA, Hill LR, Monserrat N, Nakauchi H, Pedersen RA, Rooke HM, Takahashi J, Knoblich JA, (2021). ISSCR guidelines for the transfer of human pluripotent stem cells and their direct derivatives into animal hosts Stem Cell Reports 16, 1409-1415

The newly revised 2021 ISSCR Guidelines for Stem Cell Research and Clinical Translation includes scientific and ethical guidance for the transfer of human pluripotent stem cells and their direct derivatives into animal models. In this white paper, the ISSCR subcommittee that drafted these guidelines for research involving the use of nonhuman embryos and postnatal animals explains and summarizes their recommendations.

Keywords: animal research, chimeric embryos, isscr guidelines, Animal research, Chimeric embryos, Isscr guidelines, Stem cell chimeras


Checa M, Millan‐solsona R, Mares AG, Pujals S, Gomila G, (2021). Dielectric imaging of fixed hela cells by in‐liquid scanning dielectric force volume microscopy Nanomaterials 11,

Mapping the dielectric properties of cells with nanoscale spatial resolution can be an im-portant tool in nanomedicine and nanotoxicity analysis, which can complement structural and mechanical nanoscale measurements. Recently we have shown that dielectric constant maps can be obtained on dried fixed cells in air environment by means of scanning dielectric force volume mi-croscopy. Here, we demonstrate that such measurements can also be performed in the much more challenging case of fixed cells in liquid environment. Performing the measurements in liquid media contributes to preserve better the structure of the fixed cells, while also enabling accessing the local dielectric properties under fully hydrated conditions. The results shown in this work pave the way to address the nanoscale dielectric imaging of living cells, for which still further developments are required, as discussed here.

Keywords: atomic force microscopy (afm), capacitance, constant, dielectric properties, electrostatic force microscopy (efm), functional microscopy, nanoscale, scanning dielectric microscopy (sdm), Atomic force microscopy (afm), Dielectric properties, Dielectrophoretic separation, Electrostatic force microscopy (efm), Functional micros-copy, Scanning dielectric microscopy (sdm), Scanning probe microscopy (spm)


Ferrer-Lluis I, Castillo-Escario Y, Montserrat JM, Jané R, (2021). Enhanced monitoring of sleep position in sleep apnea patients: Smartphone triaxial accelerometry compared with video-validated position from polysomnography SENSORS 21, 3689

Poor sleep quality is a risk factor for multiple mental, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular diseases. Certain sleep positions or excessive position changes can be related to some diseases and poor sleep quality. Nevertheless, sleep position is usually classified into four discrete values: supine, prone, left and right. An increase in sleep position resolution is necessary to better assess sleep position dynamics and to interpret more accurately intermediate sleep positions. This research aims to study the feasibility of smartphones as sleep position monitors by (1) developing algorithms to retrieve the sleep position angle from smartphone accelerometry; (2) monitoring the sleep position angle in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA); (3) comparing the discretized sleep angle versus the four classic sleep positions obtained by the video-validated polysomnography (PSG); and (4) analyzing the presence of positional OSA (pOSA) related to its sleep angle of occurrence. Results from 19 OSA patients reveal that a higher resolution sleep position would help to better diagnose and treat patients with position-dependent diseases such as pOSA. They also show that smartphones are promising mHealth tools for enhanced position monitoring at hospitals and home, as they can provide sleep position with higher resolution than the gold-standard video-validated PSG.

Keywords: accelerometry, actigraphy, association, biomedical signal processing, index, latency, mhealth, monitoring, pathophysiology, quality, questionnaire, score, sleep apnea, sleep position, smartphone, time, Accelerometry, Biomedical signal processing, Mhealth, Monitoring, Sleep apnea, Sleep position, Smartphone, Supine position


Torp N, Israelsen M, Madsen B, Lutz P, Jansen C, Strassburg C, Mortensen C, Knudsen AW, Sorensen GL, Holmskov U, Schlosser A, Thiele M, Trebicka J, Krag A, (2021). Level of MFAP4 in ascites independently predicts 1-year transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis Jhep Rep 3, 100287

Background & Aims: Prognostic models of cirrhosis underestimate disease severity for patients with cirrhosis and ascites. Microfibrillar-associated protein 4 (MFAP4) is an extracellular matrix protein linked to hepatic neoangiogenesis and fibrogenesis. We investigated ascites MFAP4 as a predictor of transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. Methods: A dual-centre observational study of patients with cirrhosis and ascites recruited consecutively in relation to a paracentesis was carried out. Patients were followed up for 1 year, until death or liver transplantation (LTx). Ascites MFAP4 was tested with the model for end-stage liver disease (MELD-Na), CLIF Consortium Acute Decompensation (CLIF-C AD), and Child-Pugh score in Cox regression models. Results: Ninety-three patients requiring paracentesis were included. Median ascites MFAP4 was 29.7 U/L [22.3–41.3], and MELD-Na was 19 [16–23]. A low MELD-Na score (<20) was observed in 49 patients (53%). During follow-up, 20 patients died (22%), and 6 received LTx (6%). High ascites MFAP4 (>29.7 U/L) was associated with 1-year transplant-free survival (p = 0.002). In Cox regression, ascites MFAP4 and MELD-Na independently predicted 1-year transplant-free survival (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.97, p = 0.03, and HR = 1.08, p = 0.01, respectively). Ascites MFAP4 and CLIF-C AD also predicted survival independently (HR = 0.96, p = 0.02, and HR = 1.05, p = 0.03, respectively), whereas only ascites MFAP4 did, controlling for the Child-Pugh score (HR = 0.97, p = 0.03, and HR = 1.18, p = 0.16, respectively). For patients with MELD-Na <20, ascites MFAP4 but not ascites protein predicted 1-year transplant-free survival (HR 0.91, p = 0.02, and HR = 0.94, p = 0.17, respectively). Conclusions: Ascites MFAP4 predicts 1-year transplant-free survival in patients with cirrhosis and ascites. In patients with low MELD-Na scores, ascites MFAP4, but not total ascites protein, significantly predicted 1-year transplant-free survival. Lay summary: Patients with cirrhosis who have fluid in the abdomen, ascites, are at an increased risk of death and in need for liver transplantation. Our study identified patients with ascites and a poor prognosis by measuring microfibrillar associated protein 4 (MFAP4), a protein present in the abdominal fluid. Patients with low levels of the MFAP4 protein are at particularly increased risk of death or liver transplantation, suggesting that clinical care should be intensified in this group of patients. © 2021 The Authors

Keywords: biomarker, clif-c ad, clif consortium acute decompensation, cps, child-pugh score, crp, c-reactive protein, ct, computed tomography, decompensated, ecm, extracellular matrix, fibrosis, fluid protein, gfr, glomerular filtration rate, hr, hazard ratio, inr, internationalised normal ratio, liver disease, liver-cirrhosis, ltx, liver transplantation, markers, meld-na, model for end-stage liver disease, mfap4, microfibrillar associated protein 4, mortality, nash, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, natural-history, prognosis, risk-factors, sbp, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, scores, stage, Biomarker, Decompensated, Egfr, estimated gfr, Fibrosis, Liver disease, Mortality, Prognosis, Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis


González-Piñero M, Páez-Avilés C, Juanola-Feliu E, Samitier J, (2021). Cross-fertilization of knowledge and technologies in collaborative research projects Journal Of Knowledge Management 25, 34-59

Purpose: This paper aims to explore how the cross-fertilization of knowledge and technologies in EU-funded research projects, including serious games and gamification, is influenced by the following variables: multidisciplinarity, knowledge base and organizations (number and diversity). The interrelation of actors and projects form a network of innovation. The largest contribution to cross-fertilization comes from the multidisciplinary nature of projects and the previous knowledge and technology of actors. The analysis draws on the understanding of how consortia perform as an innovation network, what their outcomes are and what capabilities are needed to reap value. Design/methodology/approach: All the research projects including serious games and/or gamification, funded by the EU-Horizon 2020 work programme, have been analyzed to test the hypotheses in this paper. The study sample covers the period between 2014 and 2016 (June), selecting the 87 research projects that comprised 519 organizations as coordinators and participants, and 597 observations – because more organizations participate in more than one project. The data were complemented by documentary and external database analysis. Findings: To create cross-fertilization of knowledge and technologies, the following emphasis should be placed on projects: partners concern various disciplines; partners have an extensive knowledge base for generating novel combinations and added-value technologies; there is a diverse typology of partners with unique knowledge and skills; and there is a limited number of organizations not too closely connected to provide cross-fertilization. Research limitations/implications: First, the database sample covers a period of 30 months. The authors’ attention was focused on this period because H2020 prioritized for the first time the serious games and gamification with two specific calls (ICT-21–14 and ICT-24–16) and, second, for the explosion of projects including these technologies in the past years (Adkins, 2017). These facts can be understood as a way to push the research to higher technology readiness levels (TRLs) and introducing the end-user in the co-creation and co-development along the value chain. Second, an additional limitation makes reference to the European focus of the projects, missing strong regional initiatives not identified and studied. Originality/value: This paper has attempted to explore and define theoretically and empirically the characteristics found in the cross-fertilization of collaborative research projects, emphasizing which variables, and how, need to be stimulated to benefit more multidisciplinary consortia and accelerate the process of innovation. © 2021, Manel González-Piñero, Cristina Páez-Avilés, Esteve Juanola-Feliu and Josep Samitier.

Keywords: absorptive-capacity, business model, cross-fertilization of knowledge, diversity, front-end, impact, innovation systems, knowledge management, management research, science, social networks, team, technology, Cross-fertilization of knowledge, Innovation, Knowledge management, Management research, Research-and-development, Technology


Guix M, Mestre R, Patiño T, de Corato M, Fuentes J, Zarpellon G, Sánchez S, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6,

Bioinspired hybrid soft robots that combine living and synthetic components are an emerging field in the development of advanced actuators and other robotic platforms (i.e., swimmers, crawlers, and walkers). The integration of biological components offers unique characteristics that artificial materials cannot precisely replicate, such as adaptability and response to external stimuli. Here, we present a skeletal muscle–based swimming biobot with a three-dimensional (3D)–printed serpentine spring skeleton that provides mechanical integrity and self-stimulation during the cell maturation process. The restoring force inherent to the spring system allows a dynamic skeleton compliance upon spontaneous muscle contraction, leading to a cyclic mechanical stimulation process that improves the muscle force output without external stimuli. Optimization of the 3D-printed skeletons is carried out by studying the geometrical stiffnesses of different designs via finite element analysis. Upon electrical actuation of the muscle tissue, two types of motion mechanisms are experimentally observed: directional swimming when the biobot is at the liquid-air interface and coasting motion when it is near the bottom surface. The integrated compliant skeleton provides both the mechanical self-stimulation and the required asymmetry for directional motion, displaying its maximum velocity at 5 hertz (800 micrometers per second, 3 body lengths per second). This skeletal muscle–based biohybrid swimmer attains speeds comparable with those of cardiac-based biohybrid robots and outperforms other muscle-based swimmers. The integration of serpentine-like structures in hybrid robotic systems allows self-stimulation processes that could lead to higher force outputs in current and future biomimetic robotic platforms. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;

Keywords: actuators, design, fabrication, mechanics, mems, myotubes, platform, tissue, 3d printers, Agricultural robots, Biological components, Biomimetic processes, Electrical actuation, Geometrical stiffness, Intelligent robots, Liquefied gases, Liquid-air interface, Mechanical integrity, Mechanical stimulation, Muscle, Muscle contractions, Phase interfaces, Robotics, Serpentine, Springs (components), Threedimensional (3-d)


Lidón L, Llaó-Hierro L, Nuvolone M, Aguzzi A, Ávila J, Ferrer I, Del Río JA, Gavín R, (2021). Tau exon 10 inclusion by prpc through downregulating gsk3? activity INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22,

Tau protein is largely responsible for tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD), where it accumulates in the brain as insoluble aggregates. Tau mRNA is regulated by alternative splicing, and inclusion or exclusion of exon 10 gives rise to the 3R and 4R isoforms respectively, whose balance is physiologically regulated. In this sense, one of the several factors that regulate alternative splicing of tau is GSK3?, whose activity is inhibited by the cellular prion protein (PrPC), which has different physiological functions in neuroprotection and neuronal differentiation. Moreover, a relationship between PrPC and tau expression levels has been reported during AD evolution. For this reason, in this study we aimed to analyze the role of PrPC and the implication of GSK3? in the regulation of tau exon 10 alternative splicing. We used AD human samples and mouse models of PrPC ablation and tau overexpression. In addition, we used primary neuronal cultures to develop functional studies. Our results revealed a paralleled association between PrPC expression and tau 4R isoforms in all models analyzed. In this sense, reduction or ablation of PrPC levels induces an increase in tau 3R/4R balance. More relevantly, our data points to GSK3? activity downstream from PrPC in this phenomenon. Our results indicate that PrPC plays a role in tau exon 10 inclusion through the inhibitory capacity of GSK3?. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: alternative splicing, alzheimer's disease, alzheimers-disease, alzheimer’s disease, amyloid-beta, cellular prion protein, frontotemporal dementia, glycogen-synthase kinase-3, gsk3 beta, gsk3?, messenger-rna, microtubule-associated protein tau, neurofibrillary tangles, progressive supranuclear palsy, promotes neuronal differentiation, stem-cells, tauopathies, Alternative splicing, Alzheimer’s disease, Cellular prion protein, Gsk3?, Microtubule-associated protein tau, Tauopathies


Santos-Pata D, Amil AF, Raikov IG, Rennó-Costa C, Mura A, Soltesz I, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Epistemic Autonomy: Self-supervised Learning in the Mammalian Hippocampus Trends In Cognitive Sciences 25, 582-595

Biological cognition is based on the ability to autonomously acquire knowledge, or epistemic autonomy. Such self-supervision is largely absent in artificial neural networks (ANN) because they depend on externally set learning criteria. Yet training ANN using error backpropagation has created the current revolution in artificial intelligence, raising the question of whether the epistemic autonomy displayed in biological cognition can be achieved with error backpropagation-based learning. We present evidence suggesting that the entorhinal–hippocampal complex combines epistemic autonomy with error backpropagation. Specifically, we propose that the hippocampus minimizes the error between its input and output signals through a modulatory counter-current inhibitory network. We further discuss the computational emulation of this principle and analyze it in the context of autonomous cognitive systems. © 2021 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords: computational model, dentate gyrus, error backpropagation, granule cells, grid cells, hippocampus, inhibition, input, neural-networks, neurons, transformation, Artificial intelligence, Artificial neural network, Back propagation, Backpropagation, Brain, Cognitive systems, Counter current, Error back-propagation, Error backpropagation, Errors, Expressing interneurons, Hippocampal complex, Hippocampus, Human experiment, Input and outputs, Learning, Mammal, Mammalian hippocampus, Mammals, Neural networks, Nonhuman, Review, Self-supervised learning


Tornin J, Labay C, Tampieri F, Ginebra M-P, Canal C, (2021). Evaluation of the effects of cold atmospheric plasma and plasma-treated liquids in cancer cell cultures Nature Protocols 16, 2826-2850

Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a potential anticancer therapy. CAP has cytotoxic effects when applied either directly to cancer cell cultures or indirectly through plasma-conditioned liquids. This protocol describes how to treat adherent cultures of human cancer cell lines with CAP or plasma-conditioned medium and determine cell viability following treatment. The protocol also includes details on how to quantify the reactive oxygen and nitrogen species present in medium following CAP treatment, using chemical probes using UV-visible or fluorescence spectroscopy. CAP treatment takes ~30 min, and 3 h are required to complete quantification of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. By providing a standardized protocol for evaluation of the effects of CAP and plasma-conditioned medium, we hope to facilitate the comparison and interpretation of results seen across different laboratories. © 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.

Keywords: bacteria, decontamination, jet, skin, surface, Physical plasma


Watt, AC, Cejas, P, DeCristo, MJ, Metzger, O, Lam, EYN, Qiu, XT, BrinJones, H, Kesten, N, Coulson, R, Font-Tello, A, Lim, K, Vadhi, R, Daniels, VW, Montero, J, Taing, L, Meyer, CA, Gilan, O, Bell, CC, Korthauer, KD, Giambartolomei, C, Pasaniuc, B, Seo, JH, Freedman, ML, Ma, CT, Ellis, MJ, Krop, I, Winer, E, Letai, A, Brown, M, Dawson, MA, Long, HW, Zhao, JJ, Goel, S, (2021). CDK4/6 inhibition reprograms the breast cancer enhancer landscape by stimulating AP-1 transcriptional activity Nature Cancer 2, 34-+

Goel and colleagues show that CDK4/6 inhibition induces global chromatin changes mediated by AP-1 factors, which mediate key biological and clinical effects in breast cancer. Pharmacologic inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases 4 and 6 (CDK4/6) were designed to induce cancer cell cycle arrest. Recent studies have suggested that these agents also exert other effects, influencing cancer cell immunogenicity, apoptotic responses and differentiation. Using cell-based and mouse models of breast cancer together with clinical specimens, we show that CDK4/6 inhibitors induce remodeling of cancer cell chromatin characterized by widespread enhancer activation, and that this explains many of these effects. The newly activated enhancers include classical super-enhancers that drive luminal differentiation and apoptotic evasion, as well as a set of enhancers overlying endogenous retroviral elements that are enriched for proximity to interferon-driven genes. Mechanistically, CDK4/6 inhibition increases the level of several activator protein-1 transcription factor proteins, which are in turn implicated in the activity of many of the new enhancers. Our findings offer insights into CDK4/6 pathway biology and should inform the future development of CDK4/6 inhibitors.

Keywords: Abemaciclib, Androgen receptor, Animal experiment, Animal model, Animal tissue, Apoptosis, Article, Breast cancer, C-jun, Cancer cell, Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1, Caspase 3, Cell cycle arrest, Cells, Chromatin, Chromatin immunoprecipitation, Controlled study, Cyclin dependent kinase 4, Cyclin dependent kinase 6, Dna damage, Epidermal growth factor receptor 2, Estrogen receptor, Female, Flow cytometry, Fulvestrant, Hla drb1 antigen, Human, Human cell, Immunoblotting, Immunogenicity, Immunoprecipitation, Interferon, Luciferase assay, Mcf-7 cell line, Mda-mb-231 cell line, Microarray analysis, Morphogenesis, Mouse, Nonhuman, Palbociclib, Protein, Protein expression, Rb, Resistance, Rna polymerase ii, Rna sequence, Selective-inhibition, Senescence, Short tandem repeat, Signal transduction, Tamoxifen, Transcription elongation, Transcription factor, Transcription factor ap 1, Transcriptome, Tumor biopsy, Tumor differentiation, Tumor spheroid, Tumor xenograft, Vinculin, Whole exome sequencing


Rubi-Sans, G, Cano-Torres, I, Perez-Amodio, S, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, (2021). Development and Angiogenic Potential of Cell-Derived Microtissues Using Microcarrier-Template Biomedicines 9,

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches use biomaterials in combination with cells to regenerate lost functions of tissues and organs to prevent organ transplantation. However, most of the current strategies fail in mimicking the tissue's extracellular matrix properties. In order to mimic native tissue conditions, we developed cell-derived matrix (CDM) microtissues (MT). Our methodology uses poly-lactic acid (PLA) and Cultispher(R) S microcarriers' (MCs') as scaffold templates, which are seeded with rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (rBM-MSCs). The scaffold template allows cells to generate an extracellular matrix, which is then extracted for downstream use. The newly formed CDM provides cells with a complex physical (MT architecture) and biochemical (deposited ECM proteins) environment, also showing spontaneous angiogenic potential. Our results suggest that MTs generated from the combination of these two MCs (mixed MTs) are excellent candidates for tissue vascularization. Overall, this study provides a methodology for in-house fabrication of microtissues with angiogenic potential for downstream use in various tissue regenerative strategies.

Keywords: angiogenesis, cell-derived matrix, cultispher® s, microtissue, poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Angiogenesis, Cell-derived matrix, Cultispher (r) s, Microtissue, Poly-lactic acid microcarriers, Rat bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells


Chen, YW, Toth, EA, Ruan, B, Choi, EJ, Simmerman, R, Chen, YH, He, YN, Wang, RX, Godoy-Ruiz, R, King, H, Custer, G, Gallagher, DT, Rozak, DA, Solomon, M, Muro, S, Weber, DJ, Orban, J, Fuerst, TR, Bryan, PN, (2021). Engineering subtilisin proteases that specifically degrade active RAS Commun Biol 4,

We describe the design, kinetic properties, and structures of engineered subtilisin proteases that degrade the active form of RAS by cleaving a conserved sequence in switch 2. RAS is a signaling protein that, when mutated, drives a third of human cancers. To generate high specificity for the RAS target sequence, the active site was modified to be dependent on a cofactor (imidazole or nitrite) and protease sub-sites were engineered to create a linkage between substrate and cofactor binding. Selective proteolysis of active RAS arises from a 2-step process wherein sub-site interactions promote productive binding of the cofactor, enabling cleavage. Proteases engineered in this way specifically cleave active RAS in vitro, deplete the level of RAS in a bacterial reporter system, and also degrade RAS in human cell culture. Although these proteases target active RAS, the underlying design principles are fundamental and will be adaptable to many target proteins. Chen et al. describe a rational design of subtilisin mutants that degrade active RAS by cleaving a conserved sequence in switch 2. They further modified the active site to be dependent on a cofactor to generate high target specificity. Proteases engineered to cleave this region degraded RAS in vitro and in cells with a promise of adaptability for other target proteins too.


Fontana-Escartin A, Puiggalí-Jou A, Lanzalaco S, Bertran O, Alemán C, (2021). Manufactured Flexible Electrodes for Dopamine Detection: Integration of Conducting Polymer in 3D-Printed Polylactic Acid ADVANCED ENGINEERING MATERIALS 23

Flexible electrochemical sensors based on electroactive materials have emerged as powerful analytical tools for biomedical applications requiring bioanalytes detection. Within this context, 3D printing is a remarkable technology for developing electrochemical devices, due to no design constraints, waste minimization, and batch manufacturing with high reproducibility. However, the fabrication of 3D printed electrodes is still limited by the in-house fabrication of conductive filaments, which requires the mixture of the electroactive material with melted of thermoplastic polymer (e.g., polylactic acid, PLA). Herein, a simple approach is presented for preparing electrochemical dopamine (DA) biosensors. Specifically, the surface of 3D-printed PLA specimens, which exhibit an elastic modulus and a tensile strength of 3.7 +/- 0.3 GPa and 47 +/- 1 MPa, respectively, is activated applying a 0.5 m NaOH solution for 30 min and, subsequently, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) is polymerized in situ using aqueous solvent. The detection of DA with the produced sensors has been demonstrated by cyclic voltammetry, differential pulse voltammetry, and chronoamperometry. In summary, the obtained results reflect that low-cost electrochemical sensors, which are widely used in medicine and biotechnology, can be rapidly fabricated using the proposed approach that, although based on additive manufacturing, does not require the preparation of conductive filaments.

Keywords: 3d printers, Additive manufacturing, Amines, Batch manufacturing, Biomedical applications, Chronoamperometry, Conducting polymer, Conducting polymers, Conductive filaments, Conservation, Cyclic voltammetry, Differential pulse voltammetry, Electroactive material, Electrochemical biosensor, Electrochemical devices, Electrochemical sensors, Electrodes, Electron emission, Flexible electrode, High reproducibility, Medical applications, Neurophysiology, Poly-3 ,4-ethylenedioxythiophene, Polyesters, Polylactic aci, Sodium hydroxide, Tensile strength, Thermoplastic polymer


Blaya, D, Pose, E, Coll, M, Lozano, JJ, Graupera, I, Schierwagen, R, Jansen, C, Castro, P, Fernandez, S, Sidorova, J, Vasa-Nicotera, M, Sola, E, Caballeria, J, Trebicka, J, Gines, P, Sancho-Bru, P, (2021). Profiling circulating microRNAs in patients with cirrhosis and acute-on-chronic liver failure Jhep Rep 3, 100233

Background & Aims: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) circulate in several body fluids and can be useful biomarkers. The aim of this study was to identify blood-circulating miRNAs associated with cirrhosis progression and acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Methods: Using high-throughput screening of 754 miRNAs, serum samples from 45 patients with compensated cirrhosis, decompensated cirrhosis, or ACLF were compared with those from healthy individuals (n = 15). miRNA levels were correlated with clinical parameters, organ failure, and disease progression and outcome. Dysregulated miRNAs were evaluated in portal and hepatic vein samples (n = 33), liver tissues (n = 17), and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (n = 16). Results: miRNA screening analysis revealed that circulating miRNAs are dysregulated in cirrhosis progression, with 51 miRNAs being differentially expressed among all groups of patients. Unsupervised clustering and principal component analysis indicated that the main differences in miRNA expression occurred at decompensation, showing similar levels in patients with decompensated cirrhosis and those with ACLF. Of 43 selected miRNAs examined for differences among groups, 10 were differentially expressed according to disease progression. Moreover, 20 circulating miRNAs were correlated with model for end-stage liver disease and Child-Pugh scores. Notably, 11 dysregulated miRNAs were associated with kidney or liver failure, encephalopathy, bacterial infection, and poor outcomes. The most severely dysregulated miRNAs (i.e. miR-146a5p, miR-26a-5p, and miR-191-5p) were further evaluated in portal and hepatic vein blood and liver tissue, but showed no differences. However, PBMCs from patients with cirrhosis showed significant downregulation of miR-26 and miR-146a, suggesting a extrahepatic origin of some circulating miRNAs. Conclusions: This study is a repository of circulating miRNA data following cirrhosis progression and ACLF. Circulating miRNAs were profoundly dysregulated during the progression of chronic liver disease, were associated with failure of several organs and could have prognostic utility. Lay summary: Circulating miRNAs are small molecules in the blood that can be used to identify or predict a clinical condition. Our study aimed to identify miRNAs for use as biomarkers in patients with cirrhosis or acute-on-chronic liver failure. Several miRNAs were found to be dysregulated during the progression of disease, and some were also related to organ failure and disease-related outcomes. (C) 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL).

Keywords: aclf, acute-on-chronic liver failure, alt, alanine aminotransferase, ast, aspartate aminotransferase, biomarkers, chronic liver disease, cxcl10, c-x-c motif chemokine ligand 10, ef clif, european foundation for the study of chronic liver failure, foxo, forkhead box o, inr, international normalised ratio, ldh, lactate dehydrogenase, liver decompensation, mapk, mitogen-activated protein kinase, meld, model for end-stage liver disease, nash, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, non-coding rnas, pbmcs, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, pca, principal component analysis, tgf, transforming growth factor, tips, transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, Biomarkers, Chronic liver disease, Expression, Liver decompensation, Markers, Mir-146a, Non-coding rnas, Qpcr, quantitative pcr


Sans, J, Revilla-Lopez, G, Sanz, V, Puiggali, J, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). Permanently polarized hydroxyapatite for selective electrothermal catalytic conversion of carbon dioxide into ethanol CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS 57, 5163-5166

Conversion of CO2 into valuable chemicals is not only a very challenging topic but also a socially demanding issue. In this work, permanently polarized hydroxyapatite obtained using a thermal stimulated polarization process is proposed as a highly selective catalyst for green production of ethanol starting from CO2 and CH4.


Raymond Y, Pastorino D, Ginebreda I, Maazouz Y, Ortiz M, Manzanares M-C, Ginebra M-P, (2021). Computed tomography and histological evaluation of xenogenic and biomimetic bone grafts in three-wall alveolar defects in minipigs Clinical Oral Investigations 25, 6695-6706

Objectives This study aimed to compare the performance of a xenograft (XG) and a biomimetic synthetic graft (SG) in three-wall alveolar defects in minipigs by means of 3D computerised tomography and histology. Materials and methods Eight minipigs were used. A total of eight defects were created in the jaw of each animal, three of which were grafted with XGs, three with SGs, and two were left empty as a negative control. The allocation of the different grafts was randomised. Four animals were euthanised at 6 weeks and four at 12 weeks. The grafted volume was then measured by spiral computed tomography to assess volume preservation. Additionally, a histological analysis was performed in undecalcified samples by backscattered scanning electron microscopy and optical microscopy after Masson's trichrome staining. Results A linear mixed-effects model was applied considering four fixed factors (bone graft type, regeneration time, anatomic position, and maxilla/mandible) and one random factor (animal). The SG exhibited significantly larger grafted volume (19%) than the XG. The anterior sites preserved better the grafted volume than the posterior ones. Finally, regeneration time had a positive effect on the grafted volume. Histological observations revealed excellent osseointegration and osteoconductive properties for both biomaterials. Some concavities found in the spheroidal morphologies of SGs were associated with osteoclastic resorption. Conclusions Both biomaterials met the requirements for bone grafting, i.e. biocompatibility, osseointegration, and osteoconduction. Granule morphology was identified as an important factor to ensure a good volume preservation.

Keywords: bone graft, bone regeneration, in vivo, miniature swine, synthetic graft, 3-dimensional changes, Anorganic bovine bone, Autogenous bone, Bio-oss, Biomaterials, Bone graft, Bone regeneration, Calcium-phosphate, Hydroxyapatite, In vivo, Miniature swine, Sinus floor augmentation, Substitute, Synthetic graft, Volume, Xenograft


Sans, J, Sanz, V, del Valle, LJ, Puiggali, J, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). Optimization of permanently polarized hydroxyapatite catalyst. Implications for the electrophotosynthesis of amino acids by nitrogen and carbon fixation Journal Of Catalysis 397, 98-107

The enhanced catalytic activity of permanently polarized hydroxyapatite, which is achieved using a thermally stimulated polarization process, largely depends on both the experimental conditions used to prepare crystalline hydroxyapatite from its calcium and phosphate precursors and the polarization process parameters. A mineral similar to brushite, which is an apatitic phase that can evolve to hydroxyapatite, is found at the surface of highly crystalline hydroxyapatite. It appears after chemical precipitation and hydrothermal treatment performed at 150 degrees C for 24 h followed by a sinterization at 1000 degrees C and a polarization treatment by applying a voltage of 500 Vat high temperature. Both the high crystallinity and the presence of brushite-like phase on the electrophotocatalyst affect the nitrogen and carbon fixation under mild reaction conditions (95 degrees C and 6 bar) and the synthesis of glycine and alanine from a simple gas mixture containing N-2, CO2, CH4 and H2O. Thus, the Gly/Ala ratio can be customized by controlling the presence of brushite on the surface of the catalyst, enabling to develop new strategies to regulate the production of amino acids by nitrogen and carbon fixation. (C) 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Amino acids, Brushite, Carbon, Carbon dioxide fixation, Catalyst activity, Catalytic apatites, Chemical precipitation, Crystalline hydroxyapatite, Crystallinity, Decomposition, Enhanced catalytic activity, Experimental conditions, Heterogeneous catalysis, High crystallinity, Hydrothermal synthesis, Hydrothermal treatments, Hydroxyapatite, Lactic-acid, Mild reaction conditions, Molecular nitrogen fixation, Nitrogen, Nitrogen fixation, Phosphate, Polarization, Precipitation (chemical), Process parameters, Thermally stimulated polarization


Grob, M, Anselmetti, D, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2021). In memory of Max Burger JOURNAL OF CELLULAR BIOCHEMISTRY 122, 1259-1261

Barbero-Castillo A, Riefolo F, Matera C, Caldas-Martínez S, Mateos-Aparicio P, Weinert JF, Garrido-Charles A, Claro E, Sanchez-Vives MV, Gorostiza P, (2021). Control of Brain State Transitions with a Photoswitchable Muscarinic Agonist Advanced Science 8,

The ability to control neural activity is essential for research not only in basic neuroscience, as spatiotemporal control of activity is a fundamental experimental tool, but also in clinical neurology for therapeutic brain interventions. Transcranial-magnetic, ultrasound, and alternating/direct current (AC/DC) stimulation are some available means of spatiotemporal controlled neuromodulation. There is also light-mediated control, such as optogenetics, which has revolutionized neuroscience research, yet its clinical translation is hampered by the need for gene manipulation. As a drug-based light-mediated control, the effect of a photoswitchable muscarinic agonist (Phthalimide-Azo-Iper (PAI)) on a brain network is evaluated in this study. First, the conditions to manipulate M2 muscarinic receptors with light in the experimental setup are determined. Next, physiological synchronous emergent cortical activity consisting of slow oscillations-as in slow wave sleep-is transformed into a higher frequency pattern in the cerebral cortex, both in vitro and in vivo, as a consequence of PAI activation with light. These results open the way to study cholinergic neuromodulation and to control spatiotemporal patterns of activity in different brain states, their transitions, and their links to cognition and behavior. The approach can be applied to different organisms and does not require genetic manipulation, which would make it translational to humans.

Keywords: brain states, light-mediated control, muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, neuromodulation, Activation, Alternating/direct currents, Basal forebrain, Brain, Brain states, Clinical research, Clinical translation, Controlled drug delivery, Cortex, Forebrain cholinergic system, Genetic manipulations, Higher frequencies, Hz oscillation, Light‐, Light-mediated control, Mediated control, Muscarinic acetylcholine receptors, Muscarinic agonists, Muscarinic receptor, Neurology, Neuromodulation, Neurons, Noradrenergic modulation, Parvalbumin-positive interneurons, Photopharmacology, Receptor-binding, Slow, Spatiotemporal control, Spatiotemporal patterns


Abramov A, Maiti B, Keridou I, Puiggalí J, Reiser O, Díaz DD, (2021). A pH-Triggered Polymer Degradation or Drug Delivery System by Light-Mediated Cis/Trans Isomerization of o-Hydroxy Cinnamates MACROMOLECULAR RAPID COMMUNICATIONS 42,

A new methodology for the pH-triggered degradation of polymers or for the release of drugs under visible light irradiation based on the cyclization of ortho-hydroxy-cinnamates (oHC) to coumarins is described. The key oHC structural motif can be readily incorporated into the rational design of novel photocleavable polymers via click chemistry. This main-chain moiety undergoes a fast photocleavage when irradiated with 455 nm light provided that a suitable base is added. A series of polyethylene glycol-alt-ortho-hydroxy cinnamate (polyethylene glycol (PEG)(n)-alt-oHC)-based polymers are synthesized and the time-dependent visible-light initiated cleavage of the photoactive monomer and polymer is investigated in solution by a variety of spectroscopic and chromatographic techniques. The photo-degradation behavior of the water-soluble poly(PEG(2000)-alt-oHC) is investigated within a broad pH range (pH = 2.1-11.8), demonstrating fast degradation at pH 11.8, while the stability of the polymer is greatly enhanced at pH 2.1. Moreover, the neat polymer shows long-term stability under daylight conditions, thus allowing its storage without special precautions. In addition, two water-soluble PEG-based drug-carrier molecules (mPEG(2000)-oHC-benzhydrol/phenol) are synthesized and used for drug delivery studies, monitoring the process by UV-vis spectroscopy in an ON/OFF intermittent manner.

Keywords: coumarins, drug delivery, e/z-double bond isomerization, o-hydroxy cinnamates, polymer degradation, Aliphatic compounds, Antioxidant activity, Antitumor, Chromatographic techniques, Chromatography, Cis/trans isomerization, Controlled drug delivery, Coumarin derivatives, Coumarins, Drug delivery, Drug delivery system, E/z-double bond isomerization, Films, Hydrogels, Image enhancement, Light, Long term stability, O-hydroxy cinnamates, Particles, Photoactive monomers, Photodegradation, Polyethylene glycols, Polyethylenes, Polymer degradation, Responsive polymers, Salts, Structural motifs, Synthesis (chemical), Targeted drug delivery, Visible light photocatalysis, Visible-light irradiation


Mallafré‐muro C, Llambrich M, Cumeras R, Pardo A, Brezmes J, Marco S, Gumà J, (2021). Comprehensive volatilome and metabolome signatures of colorectal cancer in urine: A systematic review and meta‐analysis Cancers 13,

To increase compliance with colorectal cancer screening programs and to reduce the recommended screening age, cheaper and easy non‐invasiveness alternatives to the fecal immunochemical test should be provided. Following the PRISMA procedure of studies that evaluated the metabolome and volatilome signatures of colorectal cancer in human urine samples, an exhaustive search in PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus found 28 studies that met the required criteria. There were no restrictions on the query for the type of study, leading to not only colorectal cancer samples versus control comparison but also polyps versus control and prospective studies of surgical effects, CRC staging and comparisons of CRC with other cancers. With this systematic review, we identified up to 244 compounds in urine samples (3 shared compounds between the volatilome and metabolome), and 10 of them were relevant in more than three articles. In the meta-analysis, nine studies met the criteria for inclusion, and the results combining the case‐control and the pre‐/post‐surgery groups, eleven compounds were found to be relevant. Four upregulated metabolites were identified, 3‐hydroxybutyric acid, L‐dopa, L‐histidinol, and N1, N12‐ diacetylspermine and seven downregulated compounds were identified, pyruvic acid, hydroquinone, tartaric acid, and hippuric acid as metabolites and butyraldehyde, ether, and 1,1,6‐ trimethyl‐1,2‐dihydronaphthalene as volatiles.

Keywords: biomarkers, breast, chromatography, colorectal cancer, diagnosis, markers, meta-analysis, metabolomics, metabonomics, n-1,n-12-diacetylspermine, nucleosides, systematic review, urine, validation, volatilomics, Colorectal cancer, Early-stage, Metabolomics, Meta‐analysis, Systematic review, Urine, Volatilomics


Fernández-Garibay X, Ortega MA, Cerro-Herreros E, Comelles J, Martínez E, Artero R, Fernández-Costa JM, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). Bioengineered in vitro 3D model of myotonic dystrophy type 1 human skeletal muscle Biofabrication 13,

Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) is the most common hereditary myopathy in the adult population. The disease is characterized by progressive skeletal muscle degeneration that produces severe disability. At present, there is still no effective treatment for DM1 patients, but the breakthroughs in understanding the molecular pathogenic mechanisms in DM1 have allowed the testing of new therapeutic strategies. Animal models and in vitro two-dimensional cell cultures have been essential for these advances. However, serious concerns exist regarding how faithfully these models reproduce the biological complexity of the disease. Biofabrication tools can be applied to engineer human three-dimensional (3D) culture systems that complement current preclinical research models. Here, we describe the development of the first in vitro 3D model of DM1 human skeletal muscle. Transdifferentiated myoblasts from patient-derived fibroblasts were encapsulated in micromolded gelatin methacryloyl-carboxymethyl cellulose methacrylate hydrogels through photomold patterning on functionalized glass coverslips. These hydrogels present a microstructured topography that promotes myoblasts alignment and differentiation resulting in highly aligned myotubes from both healthy and DM1 cells in a long-lasting cell culture. The DM1 3D microtissues recapitulate the molecular alterations detected in patient biopsies. Importantly, fusion index analyses demonstrate that 3D micropatterning significantly improved DM1 cell differentiation into multinucleated myotubes compared to standard cell cultures. Moreover, the characterization of the 3D cultures of DM1 myotubes detects phenotypes as the reduced thickness of myotubes that can be used for drug testing. Finally, we evaluated the therapeutic effect of antagomiR-23b administration on bioengineered DM1 skeletal muscle microtissues. AntagomiR-23b treatment rescues both molecular DM1 hallmarks and structural phenotype, restoring myotube diameter to healthy control sizes. Overall, these new microtissues represent an improvement over conventional cell culture models and can be used as biomimetic platforms to establish preclinical studies for myotonic dystrophy.

Keywords: 3d cell culture, hydrogel micropatterning, myotonic dystrophy, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, 3d cell culture, Hydrogel micropatterning, Myotonic dystrophy, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering


Elosegui-Artola A, (2021). The extracellular matrix viscoelasticity as a regulator of cell and tissue dynamics Current Opinion In Cell Biology 72, 10-18

The extracellular matrix mechanical properties regulate processes in development, cancer, and fibrosis. Among the distinct mechanical properties, the vast majority of research has focused on the extracellular matrix's elasticity as the primary determinant of cell and tissue behavior. However, both cells and the extracellular matrix are not only elastic but also viscous. Despite viscoelasticity being a universal feature of living tissues, our knowledge of the influence of the extracellular matrix's viscoelasticity in cell behavior is limited. This mini-review describes some of the recent findings that have highlighted the role of the extracellular matrix's viscoelasticity in cell and tissue dynamics.

Keywords: behavior, cell adhesion, cell mechanics, cell migration, deformability, extracellular matrix, extracellular matrix mechanics, fluidity, forces, hydrogels, mechanobiology, mechanotransduction, tissue mechanics, viscoelasticity, viscosity, Cell adhesion, Cell mechanics, Cell migration, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular matrix mechanics, Fluidity, Mechanobiology, Mechanotransduction, Migration, Tissue mechanics, Viscoelasticity, Viscosity


Apriceno A, Silvestro I, Girelli A, Francolini I, Pietrelli L, Piozzi A, (2021). Preparation and characterization of chitosan-coated manganese-ferrite nanoparticles conjugated with laccase for environmental bioremediation Polymers 13,

Bioremediation with immobilized enzymes has several advantages, such as the enhancement of selectivity, activity, and stability of biocatalysts, as well as enzyme reusability. Laccase has proven to be a good candidate for the removal of a wide range of contaminants. In this study, naked or modified MnFe O magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) were used as supports for the immobilization of laccase from Trametes versicolor. To increase enzyme loading and stability, MNPs were coated with chitosan both after the MNP synthesis (MNPs-CS) and during their formation (MNPs-CS ). SEM analysis showed different sizes for the two coated systems, 20 nm and 10 nm for MNPs-CS and MNPs-CS , respectively. After covalent immobilization of laccase by glutaraldehyde, the MNPs-CS -lac and MNPs-CS-lac systems showed a good resistance to temperature denaturation and storage stability. The most promising system for use in repeated batches was MNPs-CS -lac, which degraded about 80% of diclofenac compared to 70% of the free enzyme. The obtained results demonstrated that the MnFe O -CS system could be an excellent candidate for the removal of contaminants. 2 4 in situ in situ in situ in situ 2 4 in situ

Keywords: bioremediation, chitosan, diclofenac, diclofenac removal, immobilized enzyme, laccase, magnetic nanoparticles, phase, removal, supports, Bioremediation, Chitosan, Diclofenac removal, Enzyme immobilization, Immobilized enzyme, Laccase, Magnetic nanoparticles


Burgués J, Esclapez MD, Domate S, Pastor L, Marco S, (2021). Aerial mapping of odorous gases in a wastewater treatment plant using a small drone Remote Sensing 13,

Wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are sources of greenhouse gases, hazardous air pollutants and offensive odors. These emissions can have negative repercussions in and around the plant, degrading the quality of life of surrounding neighborhoods, damaging the environment, and reducing employee’s overall job satisfaction. Current monitoring methodologies based on fixed gas detectors and sporadic olfactometric measurements (human panels) do not allow for an accurate spatial representation of such emissions. In this paper we use a small drone equipped with an array of electrochemical and metal oxide (MOX) sensors for mapping odorous gases in a mid-sized WWTP. An innovative sampling system based on two (10 m long) flexible tubes hanging from the drone allowed near-source sampling from a safe distance with negligible influence from the downwash of the drone’s propellers. The proposed platform is very convenient for monitoring hard-toreach emission sources, such as the plant’s deodorization chimney, which turned out to be responsible for the strongest odor emissions. The geo-localized measurements visualized in the form of a two-dimensional (2D) gas concentration map revealed the main emission hotspots where abatement solutions were needed. A principal component analysis (PCA) of the multivariate sensor signals suggests that the proposed system can also be used to trace which emission source is responsible for a certain measurement.

Keywords: air pollution, environmental monitoring, gas sensors, industrial emissions, mapping, odour, uav, Air pollution, Drone, Environmental monitoring, Gas sensors, Industrial emissions, Mapping, Odour, Sensors, Uav


García-Mintegui C, Córdoba LC, Buxadera-Palomero J, Marquina A, Jiménez-Piqué E, Ginebra MP, Cortina JL, Pegueroles M, (2021). Zn-Mg and Zn-Cu alloys for stenting applications: From nanoscale mechanical characterization to in vitro degradation and biocompatibility Bioactive Materials 6, 4430-4446

In the recent decades, zinc (Zn) and its alloys have been drawing attention as promising candidates for bioresorbable cardiovascular stents due to its degradation rate more suitable than magnesium (Mg) and iron (Fe) alloys. However, its mechanical properties need to be improved in order to meet the criteria for vascular stents. This work investigates the mechanical properties, biodegradability and biocompatibility of Zn-Mg and Zn-Cu alloys in order to determine a proper alloy composition for optimal stent performance. Nanoindentation measurements are performed to characterize the mechanical properties at the nanoscale as a function of the Zn microstructure variations induced by alloying. The biodegradation mechanisms are discussed and correlated to microstructure, mechanical performance and bacterial/cell response. Addition of Mg or Cu alloying elements refined the microstructure of Zn and enhanced yield strength (YS) and ultimate tensile strength (UTS) proportional to the volume fraction of secondary phases. Zn-1Mg showed the higher YS and UTS and better performance in terms of degradation stability in Hanks’ solution. Zn-Cu alloys presented an antibacterial effect for S. aureus controlled by diffusion mechanisms and by contact. Biocompatibility was dependent on the degradation rate and the nature of the corrosion products.

Keywords: behavior, biocompatibility, biodegradable metals, bioresorbable metals, bioresorbable scaffold, copper, corrosion properties, elastic-modulus, galvanic corrosion, microstructure, nanoindentation, redox homeostasis, zinc, Biocompatibility, Bioresorbable metals, Galvanic corrosion, Nanoindentation, Room-temperature superplasticity, Zinc alloys


Cereta AD, Oliveira VR, Costa IP, Afonso JPR, Fonseca AL, de Souza ART, Silva GAM, Mello DACPG, Oliveira LVFd, da Palma RK, (2021). Emerging Cell-Based Therapies in Chronic Lung Diseases: What About Asthma? Frontiers In Pharmacology 12, 648506

Asthma is a widespread disease characterized by chronic airway inflammation. It causes substantial disability, impaired quality of life, and avoidable deaths around the world. The main treatment for asthmatic patients is the administration of corticosteroids, which improves the quality of life; however, prolonged use of corticosteroids interferes with extracellular matrix elements. Therefore, cell-based therapies are emerging as a novel therapeutic contribution to tissue regeneration for lung diseases. This study aimed to summarize the advancements in cell therapy involving mesenchymal stromal cells, extracellular vesicles, and immune cells such as T-cells in asthma. Our findings provide evidence that the use of mesenchymal stem cells, their derivatives, and immune cells such as T-cells are an initial milestone to understand how emergent cell-based therapies are effective to face the challenges in the development, progression, and management of asthma, thus improving the quality of life.

Keywords: asthma treatments, cell-based therapies, chronic lung diseases, extracellular vesicles, immune cells, mesenchymal stromal cells, Asthma treatments, Cell-based therapies, Chronic lung diseases, Extracellular vesicles, Immune cells, Mesenchymal stromal cells


Katuri J, Uspal WE, Popescu MN, Sánchez S, (2021). Inferring non-equilibrium interactions from tracer response near confined active Janus particles Science Advances 7,

Chemically active Janus particles sustain non-equilibrium spatial variations in the chemical composition of the suspending solution; these induce hydrodynamic flow and (self-)motility of the particles. Direct mapping of these fields has so far proven to be too challenging. Therefore, indirect methods are needed, e.g., deconvolving the response of “tracer” particles to the activity-induced fields. Here, we study experimentally the response of silica particles, sedimented at a wall, to active Pt/silica Janus particles. The latter are either immobilized at the wall, with the symmetry axis perpendicular or parallel to the wall, or motile. The experiments reveal complex effective interactions that are dependent on the configuration and on the state of motion of the active particle. Within the framework of a coarse-grained model, the behavior of tracers near an immobilized Janus particle can be captured qualitatively once activity-induced osmotic flows on the wall are considered.

Keywords: sphere, Motion


Ortega MA, Rodríguez-Comas J, Yavas O, Velasco-Mallorquí F, Balaguer-Trias J, Parra V, Novials A, Servitja JM, Quidant R, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). In Situ LSPR Sensing of Secreted Insulin in Organ-on-Chip Biosensors 11,

Organ-on-a-chip (OOC) devices offer new approaches for metabolic disease modeling and drug discovery by providing biologically relevant models of tissues and organs in vitro with a high degree of control over experimental variables for high-content screening applications. Yet, to fully exploit the potential of these platforms, there is a need to interface them with integrated non-labeled sensing modules, capable of monitoring, in situ, their biochemical response to external stimuli, such as stress or drugs. In order to meet this need, we aim here to develop an integrated technology based on coupling a localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) sensing module to an OOC device to monitor the insulin in situ secretion in pancreatic islets, a key physiological event that is usually perturbed in metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes (T2D). As a proof of concept, we developed a biomimetic islet-on-a-chip (IOC) device composed of mouse pancreatic islets hosted in a cellulose-based scaffold as a novel approach. The IOC was interfaced with a state-of-the-art on-chip LSPR sensing platform to monitor the in situ insulin secretion. The developed platform offers a powerful tool to enable the in situ response study of microtissues to external stimuli for applications such as a drug-screening platform for human models, bypassing animal testing.

Keywords: biosensor, cytoarchitecture, dna hybridization, gelatin, in situ insulin monitoring, langerhans, lspr sensors, microfluidic device, organ-on-a-chip, parallel, platform, scaffold, Human pancreatic-islets, In situ insulin monitoring, Lspr sensors, Organ-on-a-chip


Ruano G, Iribarren JI, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Torras J, Alemán C, (2021). Electrical and capacitive response of hydrogel solid-like electrolytes for supercapacitors Polymers 13,

Flexible hydrogels are attracting significant interest as solid-like electrolytes for energy storage devices, especially for supercapacitors, because of their lightweight and anti-deformation features. Here, we present a comparative study of four ionic conductive hydrogels derived from biopolymers and doped with 0.1 M NaCl. More specifically, such hydrogels are constituted by κcarrageenan (κC), carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC), poly-γ-glutamic acid (PGGA) or a phenylalaninecontaining polyesteramide (PEA). After examining the morphology and the swelling ratio of the four hydrogels, which varies between 483% and 2356%, their electrical and capacitive behaviors were examined using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy. Measurements were conducted on devices where a hydrogel film was sandwiched between two identical poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) electrodes. The bulk conductivity of the prepared doped hydrogels is 76, 48, 36 and 34 mS/cm for PEA, PGGA, κC and CMC, respectively. Overall, the polyesteramide hydrogel exhibits the most adequate properties (i.e., low electrical resistance and high capacitance) to be used as semi-solid electrolyte for supercapacitors, which has been attributed to its distinctive structure based on the homogeneous and abundant distribution of both micro-and nanopores. Indeed, the morphology of the polyestermide hydrogel reduces the hydrogel resistance, enhances the transport of ions, and results in a better interfacial contact between the electrodes and solid electrolyte. The correlation between the supercapacitor performance and the hydrogel porous morphology is presented as an important design feature for the next generation of light and flexible energy storage devices for wearable electronics.

Keywords: biopolymers, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, flexible hydrogels, supercapacitor, Biopolymers, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Flexible hydrogels, Supercapacitor


Covington JA, Marco S, Persaud KC, Schiffman SS, Troy Nagle H, (2021). Artificial Olfaction in the 21st Century IEEE SENSORS JOURNAL 21, 12969-12990

The human olfactory system remains one of the most challenging biological systems to replicate. Humans use it without thinking, where it can equally offer protection from harm and bring enjoyment in equal measure. It is the system’s ability to detect and analyze complex odors, without the need for specialized infra-structure, that is the envy of many scientists. The field of artificial olfaction has recruited and stimulated interdisciplinary research and commercial development for several applications that include malodor measurement, medical diagnostics, food and beverage quality, environment and security. Over the last century, innovative engineers and scientists have been focused on solving a range of problems associated with measurement and control of odor. The IEEE Sensors Journal has published Special Issues on olfaction in 2002 and 2012. Here we continue that coverage. In this article, we summarize early work in the 20th Century that served as the foundation upon which we have been building our odor-monitoring instrumental and measurement systems. We then examine the current state of the art that has been achieved over the last two decades as we have transitioned into the 21st Century. Much has been accomplished, but great progress is needed in sensor technology, system design, product manufacture and performance standards. In the final section, we predict levels of performance and ubiquitous applications that will be realized during in the mid to late 21st Century.

Keywords: air-quality, breath analysis, calibration transfer, chemical sensor arrays, chemosensor arrays, drift compensation, electronic nose, gas sensors, headspace sampling, machine learning, machine olfaction, odor detection, plume structure, voc analysis, Artificial olfaction, Electrodes, Electronic nose, Electronic nose technology, Headspace sampling, Instruments, Machine learning, Machine olfaction, Monitoring, Odor detection, Olfactory, Sensor phenomena and characterization, Sensors, Temperature sensors, Voc analysis


Cendra MdM, Torrents E, (2021). Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and their partners in crime BIOTECHNOLOGY ADVANCES 49,

Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms and the capacity of the bacterium to coexist and interact with a broad range of microorganisms have a substantial clinical impact. This review focuses on the main traits of P. aeruginosa biofilms, such as the structural composition and regulatory networks involved, placing particular emphasis on the clinical challenges they represent in terms of antimicrobial susceptibility and biofilm infection clearance. Furthermore, the ability of P. aeruginosa to grow together with other microorganisms is a significant pathogenic attribute with clinical relevance; hence, the main microbial interactions of Pseudomonas are especially highlighted and detailed throughout this review. This article also explores the infections caused by single and polymicrobial biofilms of P. aeruginosa and the current models used to recreate them under laboratory conditions. Finally, the antimicrobial and antibiofilm strategies developed against P. aeruginosa mono and multispecies biofilms are detailed at the end of this review.

Keywords: aeruginosa models, antibiotic-resistance, antimicrobials, bacterial biofilms, biofilms, c-di-gmp, chronic infections, enterococcus-faecalis, extracellular dna, in-vitro, lectin pa-iil, p, p. aeruginosa models, polymicrobial, polymicrobial interactions, staphylococcus-aureus, Antimicrobials, Biofilms, Chronic infections, P. aeruginosa models, Polymicrobial, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Urinary-tract-infection


Diaz-Lucena D, Kruse N, Thüne K, Schmitz M, Villar-Piqué A, da Cunha JEG, Hermann P, López-Pérez Ó, Andrés-Benito P, Ladogana A, Calero M, Vidal E, Riggert J, Pineau H, Sim V, Zetterberg H, Blennow K, del Río JA, Marín-Moreno A, Espinosa JC, Torres JM, Sánchez-Valle R, Mollenhauer B, Ferrer I, Zerr I, Llorens F, (2021). TREM2 expression in the brain and biological fluids in prion diseases ACTA NEUROPATHOLOGICA 141, 841-859

Triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) is an innate immune cell surface receptor that regulates microglial function and is involved in the pathophysiology of several neurodegenerative diseases. Its soluble form (sTREM2) results from shedding of the TREM2 ectodomain. The role of TREM2 in prion diseases, a group of rapidly progressive dementias remains to be elucidated. In the present study, we analysed the expression of TREM2 and its main sheddase ADAM10 in the brain of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) patients and evaluated the role of CSF and plasma sTREM2 as a potential diagnostic marker of prion disease. Our data indicate that, compared to controls, TREM2 is increased in sCJD patient brains at the mRNA and protein levels in a regional and subtype dependent fashion, and expressed in a subpopulation of microglia. In contrast, ADAM10 is increased at the protein, but not the mRNA level, with a restricted neuronal expression. Elevated CSF sTREM2 is found in sCJD, genetic CJD with mutations E200K and V210I in the prion protein gene (PRNP), and iatrogenic CJD, as compared to healthy controls (HC) (AUC = 0.78–0.90) and neurological controls (AUC = 0.73–0.85), while CSF sTREM2 is unchanged in fatal familial insomnia. sTREM2 in the CSF of cases with Alzheimer’s disease, and multiple sclerosis was not significantly altered in our series. CSF sTREM2 concentrations in sCJD are PRNP codon 129 and subtype-related, correlate with CSF 14-3-3 positivity, total-tau and YKL-40, and increase with disease progression. In plasma, sTREM2 is increased in sCJD compared with HC (AUC = 0.80), displaying positive correlations with plasma total-tau, neurofilament light, and YKL-40. We conclude that comparative study of TREM2 in brain and biological fluids of prion diseases reveals TREM2 to be altered in human prion diseases with a potential value in target engagement, patient stratification, and disease monitoring.

Keywords: cerebrospinal fluid, creutzfeldt-jakob disease, microglia, plasma, prion diseases, Cerebrospinal fluid, Creutzfeldt-jakob disease, Microglia, Plasma, Prion diseases, Trem2


Molina BG, del Valle LJ, Casanovas J, Lanzalaco S, Pérez-Madrigal MM, Turon P, Armelin E, Alemán C, (2021). Plasma-Functionalized Isotactic Polypropylene Assembled with Conducting Polymers for Bacterial Quantification by NADH Sensing Advanced Healthcare Materials 10

Rapid detection of bacterial presence on implantable medical devices is essential to prevent biofilm formation, which consists of densely packed bacteria colonies able to withstand antibiotic-mediated killing. In this work, a smart approach is presented to integrate electrochemical sensors for detecting bacterial infections in biomedical implants made of isotactic polypropylene (i-PP) using chemical assembly. The electrochemical detection is based on the capacity of conducting polymers (CPs) to detect extracellular nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) released from cellular respiration of bacteria, which allows distinguishing prokaryotic from eukaryotic cells. Oxygen plasma-functionalized free-standing i-PP, coated with a layer (≈1.1 µm in thickness) of CP nanoparticles obtained by oxidative polymerization, is used as working electrode for the anodic polymerization of a second CP layer (≈8.2 µm in thickness), which provides very high electrochemical activity and stability. The resulting layered material, i-PP /CP , detects the electro-oxidation of NADH in physiological media with a sensitivity 417 µA cm and a detection limit up to 0.14 × 10 m, which is below the concentration of extracellular NADH found for bacterial cultures of biofilm-positive and biofilm-negative strains. f 2 −2 −3

Keywords: bacteria respiration, bacteria sensors, biomedical implants, flexible sensors, poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene), Bacteria respiration, Bacteria sensors, Biomedical implants, Flexible sensors, Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)


Sans J, Arnau M, Estrany F, Turon P, Alemán C, (2021). Regulating the Superficial Vacancies and OH− Orientations on Polarized Hydroxyapatite Electrocatalysts Advanced Materials Interfaces 8

Smart designs of hydroxyapatite (HAp) materials with customized electrical properties are drawing increasing attention for their wide range of potential applications. Such enhanced electrical properties directly arise from the number and orientation of OH groups in the HAp lattice. Although different polarization treatments have been proposed to enhance the final conductivity by generating vacancies at high temperatures and imposing specific OH orientations through electric voltages, no direct measurement showing the evolution that OH groups undergo has been described yet. In this article, the first direct empirical observation that allows the characterization of both the generation of vacancies and the polarization of OH groups is reported. The mechanisms behind the electrical enhancement are elucidated allowing to distinguish between charge accumulation at the crystal grains, which is due to the formed vacancies, and charge accumulation in the boundaries of particles. In addition, a linear dependence between the number of vacancies and the superficial charge is observed. Therefore, it is demonstrated that the charge accumulation at the micrometric grain boundaries has a great impact on the catalytic properties of the thermally stimulated polarized HAp. These results will be used for further optimization of the catalyst properties. − − − −

Keywords: electrocatalysts, hydroxyl orientation, thermally stimulated polarization, vacancies, Charge delocalization, Electrocatalysts, Hydroxyl orientation, Thermally stimulated polarization, Vacancies


Santos-Pata D, Amil AF, Raikov IG, Rennó-Costa C, Mura A, Soltesz I, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Entorhinal mismatch: A model of self-supervised learning in the hippocampus Iscience 24, 102364

The hippocampal formation displays a wide range of physiological responses to different spatial manipulations of the environment. However, very few attempts have been made to identify core computational principles underlying those hippocampal responses. Here, we capitalize on the observation that the entorhinal-hippocampal complex (EHC) forms a closed loop and projects inhibitory signals “countercurrent” to the trisynaptic pathway to build a self-supervised model that learns to reconstruct its own inputs by error backpropagation. The EHC is then abstracted as an autoencoder, with the hidden layers acting as an information bottleneck. With the inputs mimicking the firing activity of lateral and medial entorhinal cells, our model is shown to generate place cells and to respond to environmental manipulations as observed in rodent experiments. Altogether, we propose that the hippocampus builds conjunctive compressed representations of the environment by learning to reconstruct its own entorhinal inputs via gradient descent.

Keywords: cognitive neuroscience, grid cells, long-term, networks, neural networks, novelty, oscillations, pattern separation, region, representation, working-memory, Cognitive neuroscience, Neural networks, Rat dentate gyrus, Systems neuroscience


Minguela J, Müller DW, Mücklich F, Llanes L, Ginebra MP, Roa JJ, Mas-Moruno C, (2021). Peptidic biofunctionalization of laser patterned dental zirconia: A biochemical-topographical approach Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 125,

A dual approach employing peptidic biofunctionalization and laser micro-patterns on dental zirconia was explored, with the aim of providing a flexible tool to improve tissue integration of restorations. Direct laser interference patterning with a femtosecond Ti:Sapphire laser was employed, and two periodic grooved patterns were produced with a periodicity of 3 and 10 μm. A platform containing the cell-adhesive RGD and the osteogenic DWIVA peptides was used to functionalize the grooved surfaces. Topography and surface damage were characterized by confocal laser scanning (CLSM), scanning electron and scanning transmission electron microscopy techniques. The surface patterns exhibited a high homogeneity and subsurface damage was found in the form of nano-cracks and nano-pores, at the bottom of the valleys. Accelerated tests in water steam were carried out to assess hydrothermal degradation resistance, which slightly decreased after the laser treatment. Interestingly, the detrimental effects of the laser modification were reverted by a post-laser thermal treatment. The attachment of the molecule was verified trough fluorescence CLSM and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. Finally, the biological properties of the surfaces were studied in human mesenchymal stem cells. Cell adhesion, morphology, migration and differentiation were investigated. Cells on grooved surfaces displayed an elongated morphology and aligned along the patterns. On these surfaces, migration was greatly enhanced along the grooves, but also highly restricted in the perpendicular direction as compared to flat specimens. After biofunctionalization, cell number and cell area increased and well-developed cell cytoskeletons were observed. However, no effects on cell migration were found for the peptidic platform. Although some osteogenic potential was found in specimens grooved with a periodicity of 10 μm, the largest effects were observed from the biomolecule, which favored upregulation of several genes related to osteoblastic differentiation in all the surfaces.

Keywords: alumina toughened zirconia, cell alignment, grain-size, implants, interference, laser patterning, osteogenic differentiation, osteointegration, peptides, surface functionalization, surface-topography, tissue, titanium surface, Laser patterning, Low-temperature degradation, Osteointegration, Peptides, Surface functionalization, Zirconia


Hortelao AC, Simó C, Guix M, Guallar-Garrido S, Julián E, Vilela D, Rejc L, Ramos-Cabrer P, Cossío U, Gómez-Vallejo V, Patiño T, Llop J, Sánchez S, (2021). Swarming behavior and in vivo monitoring of enzymatic nanomotors within the bladder Science Robotics 6,

Enzyme-powered nanomotors are an exciting technology for biomedical applications due to their ability to navigate within biological environments using endogenous fuels. However, limited studies into their collective behavior and demonstrations of tracking enzyme nanomotors in vivo have hindered progress toward their clinical translation. Here, we report the swarming behavior of urease-powered nanomotors and its tracking using positron emission tomography (PET), both in vitro and in vivo. For that, mesoporous silica nanoparticles containing urease enzymes and gold nanoparticles were used as nanomotors. To image them, nanomotors were radiolabeled with either I on gold nanoparticles or F-labeled prosthetic group to urease. In vitro experiments showed enhanced fluid mixing and collective migration of nanomotors, demonstrating higher capability to swim across complex paths inside microfabricated phantoms, compared with inactive nanomotors. In vivo intravenous administration in mice confirmed their biocompatibility at the administered dose and the suitability of PET to quantitatively track nanomotors in vivo. Furthermore, nanomotors were administered directly into the bladder of mice by intravesical injection. When injected with the fuel, urea, a homogeneous distribution was observed even after the entrance of fresh urine. By contrast, control experiments using nonmotile nanomotors (i.e., without fuel or without urease) resulted in sustained phase separation, indicating that the nanomotors’ self-propulsion promotes convection and mixing in living reservoirs. Active collective dynamics, together with the medical imaging tracking, constitute a key milestone and a step forward in the field of biomedical nanorobotics, paving the way toward their use in theranostic applications. 124 18

Keywords: cell, reversal, silica nanoparticles, size, step, transport, Propelled micromotors


Avalos-Padilla Y, Georgiev VN, Lantero E, Pujals S, Verhoef R, N Borgheti-Cardoso L, Albertazzi L, Dimova R, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). The ESCRT-III machinery participates in the production of extracellular vesicles and protein export during Plasmodium falciparum infection PLoS Pathogens 17,

Infection with Plasmodium falciparum enhances extracellular vesicle (EV) production in parasitized red blood cells (pRBCs), an important mechanism for parasite-to-parasite communication during the asexual intraerythrocytic life cycle. The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT), and in particular the ESCRT-III sub-complex, participates in the formation of EVs in higher eukaryotes. However, RBCs have lost the majority of their organelles through the maturation process, including an important reduction in their vesicular network. Therefore, the mechanism of EV production in P. falciparum-infected RBCs remains to be elucidated. Here we demonstrate that P. falciparum possesses a functional ESCRT-III machinery activated by an alternative recruitment pathway involving the action of PfBro1 and PfVps32/PfVps60 proteins. Additionally, multivesicular body formation and membrane shedding, both reported mechanisms of EV production, were reconstituted in the membrane model of giant unilamellar vesicles using the purified recombinant proteins. Moreover, the presence of PfVps32, PfVps60 and PfBro1 in EVs purified from a pRBC culture was confirmed by super-resolution microscopy and dot blot assays. Finally, disruption of the PfVps60 gene led to a reduction in the number of the produced EVs in the KO strain and affected the distribution of other ESCRT-III components. Overall, our results increase the knowledge on the underlying molecular mechanisms during malaria pathogenesis and demonstrate that ESCRT-III P. falciparum proteins participate in EV production.


Martí D, Torras J, Bertran O, Turon P, Alemán C, (2021). Temperature effect on the SARS-CoV-2: A molecular dynamics study of the spike homotrimeric glycoprotein Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal 19, 1848-1862

Rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus have boosted the need of knowledge about inactivation mechanisms to minimize the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Recent studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2 virus can be disabled by heating, the exposure time for total inactivation depending on the reached temperature (e.g. more than 45 min at 329 K or less than 5 min at 373 K. In spite of recent crystallographic structures, little is known about the molecular changes induced by the temperature. Here, we unravel the molecular basis of the effect of the temperature over the SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoprotein, which is a homotrimer with three identical monomers, by executing atomistic molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at 298, 310, 324, 338, 358 and 373 K. Furthermore, both the closed down and open up conformational states, which affect the accessibility of receptor binding domain, have been considered. Our results suggest that the spike homotrimer undergoes drastic changes in the topology of the hydrogen bonding interactions and important changes on the secondary structure of the receptor binding domain (RBD), while electrostatic interactions (i.e. salt bridges) are mainly preserved. The proposed inactivation mechanism has important implications for engineering new approaches to fight the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, as for example, cleaving or reorganizing the hydrogen bonds through chaotropic agents or nanoparticles with local surface resonant plasmon effect.

Keywords: atomistic simulations, coronaviruses, denaturation, homotrimeric protein, inactivation, proteins, receptor binding domain, salt bridges, simulation, thermal inactivation, virus spike, Atomistic simulations, Homotrimeric protein, Receptor binding domain, Secondary-structure, Thermal inactivation, Virus spike


Vilela D, Blanco-Cabra N, Eguskiza A, Hortelao AC, Torrents E, Sanchez S, (2021). Drug-Free Enzyme-Based Bactericidal Nanomotors against Pathogenic Bacteria Acs Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 14964-14973

The low efficacy of current conventional treatments for bacterial infections increases mortality rates worldwide. To alleviate this global health problem, we propose drug-free enzyme-based nanomotors for the treatment of bacterial urinary-tract infections. We develop nanomotors consisting of mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNPs) that were functionalized with either urease (U-MSNPs), lysozyme (L-MSNPs), or urease and lysozyme (M-MSNPs), and use them against nonpathogenic planktonic Escherichia coli. U-MSNPs exhibited the highest bactericidal activity due to biocatalysis of urea into NaHCO3 and NH3, which also propels U-MSNPs. In addition, U-MSNPs in concentrations above 200 μg/mL were capable of successfully reducing 60% of the biofilm biomass of a uropathogenic E. coli strain. This study thus provides a proof-of-concept, demonstrating that enzyme-based nanomotors are capable of fighting infectious diseases. This approach could potentially be extended to other kinds of diseases by selecting appropriate biomolecules.

Keywords: biofilms, carbonate, e. coli, enzymatic nanomotors, infections, lysozyme, micromotors, nanomachines, proteins, self-propulsion, Biofilms, E. coli, Eliminate escherichia-coli, Enzymatic nanomotors, Infections, Nanomachines, Self-propulsion


Wang Y, Friedrich H, Voets IK, Zijlstra P, Albertazzi L, (2021). Correlative imaging for polymer science Journal Of Polymer Science 59, 1232-1240

The characterization of polymeric materials is key towards the understanding of structure–activity relations and therefore for the rational design of novel and improved materials for a myriad of applications. Many microscopy techniques are currently used, with electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, and atomic force microscopy being the most relevant. In this perspective paper, we discuss the use of correlative imaging, that is, the combination of multiple imaging methodologies on the same sample, in the field of polymeric materials. This innovative approach is emerging as a powerful tool to unveil the structure and functional properties of biological and synthetic structures. Here we discuss the possibilities of correlative imaging and highlight their potential to answer open questions in polymer science.

Keywords: correlative imaging, electron microscopy, material characterization, resolution microscopy, super‐, Atomic force microscopy, Correlative imaging, Electron microscopy, Material characterization, Super-resolution microscopy


Arista-Romero M, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Towards a Quantitative Single Particle Characterization by Super Resolution Microscopy: From Virus Structures to Antivirals Design Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 9,

In the last year the COVID19 pandemic clearly illustrated the potential threat that viruses pose to our society. The characterization of viral structures and the identification of key proteins involved in each step of the cycle of infection are crucial to develop treatments. However, the small size of viruses, invisible under conventional fluorescence microscopy, make it difficult to study the organization of protein clusters within the viral particle. The applications of super-resolution microscopy have skyrocketed in the last years, converting this group into one of the leading techniques to characterize viruses and study the viral infection in cells, breaking the diffraction limit by achieving resolutions up to 10 nm using conventional probes such as fluorescent dyes and proteins. There are several super-resolution methods available and the selection of the right one it is crucial to study in detail all the steps involved in the viral infection, quantifying and creating models of infection for relevant viruses such as HIV-1, Influenza, herpesvirus or SARS-CoV-1. Here we review the use of super-resolution microscopy (SRM) to study all steps involved in the viral infection and antiviral design. In light of the threat of new viruses, these studies could inspire future assays to unveil the viral mechanism of emerging viruses and further develop successful antivirals against them.

Keywords: antivirals, characterization, imaging, super-resolution, virus, Antivirals, Characterization, Imaging, Super-resolution, Virus


Vera D, García-Díaz M, Torras N, Álvarez M, Villa R, Martinez E, (2021). Engineering Tissue Barrier Models on Hydrogel Microfluidic Platforms ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, 13920-13933

Tissue barriers play a crucial role in human physiology by establishing tissue compartmentalization and regulating organ homeostasis. At the interface between the extracellular matrix (ECM) and flowing fluids, epithelial and endothelial barriers are responsible for solute and gas exchange. In the past decade, microfluidic technologies and organ-on-chip devices became popular as in vitro models able to recapitulate these biological barriers. However, in conventional microfluidic devices, cell barriers are primarily grown on hard polymeric membranes within polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) channels that do not mimic the cell-ECM interactions nor allow the incorporation of other cellular compartments such as stromal tissue or vascular structures. To develop models that accurately account for the different cellular and acellular compartments of tissue barriers, researchers have integrated hydrogels into microfluidic setups for tissue barrier-on-chips, either as cell substrates inside the chip, or as self-contained devices. These biomaterials provide the soft mechanical properties of tissue barriers and allow the embedding of stromal cells. Combining hydrogels with microfluidics technology provides unique opportunities to better recreate in vitro the tissue barrier models including the cellular components and the functionality of the in vivo tissues. Such platforms have the potential of greatly improving the predictive capacities of the in vitro systems in applications such as drug development, or disease modeling. Nevertheless, their development is not without challenges in their microfabrication. In this review, we will discuss the recent advances driving the fabrication of hydrogel microfluidic platforms and their applications in multiple tissue barrier models.

Keywords: hydrogel, microfabrication, microfluidics, organ-on-chip, tissue barrier, Hydrogel, Microfabrication, Microfluidics, Organ-on-chip, Tissue barrier


Castaño O, López-Mengual A, Reginensi D, Matamoros-Angles A, Engel E, del Rio JA, (2021). Chemotactic TEG3 Cells’ Guiding Platforms Based on PLA Fibers Functionalized With the SDF-1α/CXCL12 Chemokine for Neural Regeneration Therapy Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology 9, 627805

(Following spinal cord injury, olfactory ensheathing cell (OEC) transplantation is a promising therapeutic approach in promoting functional improvement. Some studies report that the migratory properties of OECs are compromised by inhibitory molecules and potentiated by chemical concentration differences. Here we compare the attachment, morphology, and directionality of an OEC-derived cell line, TEG3 cells, seeded on functionalized nanoscale meshes of Poly(l/dl-lactic acid; PLA) nanofibers. The size of the nanofibers has a strong effect on TEG3 cell adhesion and migration, with the PLA nanofibers having a 950 nm diameter being the ones that show the best results. TEG3 cells are capable of adopting a bipolar morphology on 950 nm fiber surfaces, as well as a highly dynamic behavior in migratory terms. Finally, we observe that functionalized nanofibers, with a chemical concentration increment of SDF-1α/CXCL12, strongly enhance the migratory characteristics of TEG3 cells over inhibitory substrates.

Keywords: cell migration, cxcl12, electrospinning, gradients, pla nanofibers, sdf-1alpha, Cell migration, Cxcl12, Electrospinning, Gradients, Olfactory ensheathing cells, Pla nanofibers, Sdf-1alpha


Pieper CC, Feißt A, Meyer C, Luetkens J, Praktiknjo M, Trebicka J, Attenberger U, Jansen C, (2021). Impact of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt creation on the central lymphatic system in liver cirrhosis Scientific Reports 11, 7065

The puropse of this study was to evaluate associations of cisterna chyli (CCh) diameter with portal hemodynamics and the influence of TIPS-creation in cirrhotic patients. 93 cirrhotic patients (57 male, mean age 59 years) received CT prior to TIPS-creation. 38/93 additionally underwent post-interventional CT. CCh-diameter was measured. After categorization into patients with and without large venous collaterals (i.e. > 6 mm), data were analyzed regarding associations between CCh-diameter, clinical and portal-hemodynamic parameters and diameter-changes after TIPS-creation. Patient survival post-TIPS was analyzed. Median portosystemic pressure-gradient decreased from 20 to 9 mmHg after TIPS-creation. Large venous collaterals were observed in 59 patients. In 69/93 patients (74.2%) the CCh was detectable. Mean pre-interventional diameter was 9.4 ± 2.7 mm (large collaterals: 8.7 ± 2.0 mm, no large collaterals: 10.7 ± 3.2 mm, p = 0.003). CCh-diameter correlated strongly with pre-TIPS portal-pressure (Rs = 0.685, p = 0.0001), moderately with portosystemic-gradient (Rs = 0.524, p = 0.006), liver shear-wave-elastography (Rs = 0.597, p = 0.004) and spleen size (Rs = 0.501, p = 0.01) in patients without large collaterals, but not in patients with large collaterals. Post-TIPS CCh-diameter decreased significantly from 10.2 ± 2.8 mm to 8.3 ± 3.0 mm (p < 0.001). Patients without a detectable CCh on CT survived significantly shorter. The diameter of the CCh is associated with portal-pressure and decreases after TIPS-creation in cirrhotic patients, reflecting a portal decompression mechanism via the lymphatic system. Lack of larger central lymphatics detectable on CT may be associated with shorter survival.

Keywords: circulation, cisterna chyli, fluid, hepatic cirrhosis, shear-wave elastography, thoracic-duct, vessels, Significant portal-hypertension


Tozzi C, Walani N, Le Roux AL, Roca-Cusachs P, Arroyo M, (2021). A theory of ordering of elongated and curved proteins on membranes driven by density and curvature Soft Matter 17, 3367-3379

Cell membranes interact with a myriad of curvature-active proteins that control membrane morphology and are responsible for mechanosensation and mechanotransduction. Some of these proteins, such as those containing BAR domains, are curved and elongated, and hence may adopt different states of orientational order, from isotropic to maximize entropy to nematic as a result of crowding or to adapt to the curvature of the underlying membrane. Here, extending the classical work of Onsager for ordering in hard particle systems and that of [E. S. Nascimento et al., Phys. Rev. E, 2017, 96, 022704], we develop a mean-field density functional theory to predict the orientational order and evaluate the free energy of ensembles of elongated and curved objects on curved membranes. This theory depends on the microscopic properties of the particles and explains how a density-dependent isotropic-to-nematic transition is modified by anisotropic curvature. We also examine the coexistence of isotropic and nematic phases. This theory predicts how ordering depends on geometry but we assume here that the geometry is fixed. It also lays the ground to understand the interplay between membrane reshaping by BAR proteins and molecular order, examined by [Le Roux et al., submitted, 2020]. This journal is


Fernandes RP, Ekawa B, Ferreira LT, Carvalho ACS, Freire RT, Caires FJ, (2021). Classification of beer by thermogravimetric and chemometric techniques Journal Of Thermal Analysis And Calorimetry 147, 3063-3069

Thermogravimetric (TG) technique combined with partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA) was applied to distinguish five pilsner beers from different brands (Antarctica, Bohemia, Brahma, Budweiser and Imperio). Herein, we develop a TG methodology that use a small volume (40 µL), and an analysis time of 25 min. The major gases evolved during the thermal decomposition were water, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometer of the ashes detected the major constituents: oxygen, sodium, magnesium, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, chlorine, potassium and calcium. TG and PLS-DA technique together were able to classify the five brands with a classification rate for the model of 97% with a confidence interval of 92–99%, achieving high sensitivity and specificity between the calibration, cross-validation and predicted results.

Keywords: chemometrics, thermal analysis, Beer, Chemometrics, Thermal analysis


Manca ML, Ferraro M, Pace E, Di Vincenzo S, Valenti D, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Peptu CA, Manconi M, (2021). Loading of beclomethasone in liposomes and hyalurosomes improved with mucin as effective approach to counteract the oxidative stress generated by cigarette smoke extract Nanomaterials 11, 850

In this work beclomethasone dipropionate was loaded into liposomes and hyalurosomes modified with mucin to improve the ability of the payload to counteract the oxidative stress and involved damages caused by cigarette smoke in the airway. The vesicles were prepared by dispersing all components in the appropriate vehicle and sonicating them, thus avoiding the use of organic solvents. Unilamellar and bilamellar vesicles small in size (~117 nm), homogeneously dispersed (polydispersity index lower than 0.22) and negatively charged (~−11 mV), were obtained. Moreover, these vesicle dispersions were stable for five months at room temperature (~25 C). In vitro studies performed using the Next Generation Impactor confirmed the suitability of the formulations to be nebulized as they were capable of reaching the last stages of the impactor that mimic the deeper airways, thus improving the deposition of beclomethasone in the target site. Further, biocompatibility studies performed by using 16HBE bronchial epithelial cells confirmed the high biocompatibility and safety of all the vesicles. Among the tested formulations, only mucin-hyalurosomes were capable of effectively counteracting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) induced by cigarette smoke extract, suggesting that this formulation may represent a promising tool to reduce the damaging effects of cigarette smoke in the lung tissues, thus reducing the pathogenesis of cigarette smoke-associated diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and cancer. ◦

Keywords: 16hbe cells, beclomethasone, cigarette smoke extract, mucin, oxidative stress, phospholipid vesicles, pulmonary delivery, 16hbe cells, Beclomethasone, Cigarette smoke extract, Mucin, Oxidative stress, Phospholipid vesicles, Pulmonary delivery


Zeinali R, Del Valle LJ, Torras J, Puiggalí J, (2021). Recent progress on biodegradable tissue engineering scaffolds prepared by thermally-induced phase separation (Tips) INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES 22, 3504

Porous biodegradable scaffolds provide a physical substrate for cells allowing them to attach, proliferate and guide the formation of new tissues. A variety of techniques have been developed to fabricate tissue engineering (TE) scaffolds, among them the most relevant is the thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS). This technique has been widely used in recent years to fabricate three-dimensional (3D) TE scaffolds. Low production cost, simple experimental procedure and easy processability together with the capability to produce highly porous scaffolds with controllable architecture justify the popularity of TIPS. This paper provides a general overview of the TIPS methodology applied for the preparation of 3D porous TE scaffolds. The recent advances in the fabrication of porous scaffolds through this technique, in terms of technology and material selection, have been reviewed. In addition, how properties can be effectively modified to serve as ideal substrates for specific target cells has been specifically addressed. Additionally, examples are offered with re-spect to changes of TIPS procedure parameters, the combination of TIPS with other techniques and innovations in polymer or filler selection.

Keywords: biodegradable polymer, composites, morphology, pore structure, porosity, processing parameters, thermally induced phase separation, Biodegradable polymer, Composites, Morphology, Pore structure, Porosity, Processing parameters, Thermally induced phase separation, Tissue engineering scaffold


Seras-Franzoso J, Díaz-Riascos ZV, Corchero JL, González P, García-Aranda N, Mandaña M, Riera R, Boullosa A, Mancilla S, Grayston A, Moltó-Abad M, Garcia-Fruitós E, Mendoza R, Pintos-Morell G, Albertazzi L, Rosell A, Casas J, Villaverde A, Schwartz S, Abasolo I, (2021). Extracellular vesicles from recombinant cell factories improve the activity and efficacy of enzymes defective in lysosomal storage disorders Journal Of Extracellular Vesicles 10, e12058

In the present study the use of extracellular vesicles (EVs) as vehicles for therapeutic enzymes in lysosomal storage disorders was explored. EVs were isolated from mammalian cells overexpressing alpha-galactosidase A (GLA) or N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase (SGSH) enzymes, defective in Fabry and Sanfilippo A diseases, respectively. Direct purification of EVs from cell supernatants was found to be a simple and efficient method to obtain highly active GLA and SGSH proteins, even after EV lyophilization. Likewise, EVs carrying GLA (EV-GLA) were rapidly uptaken and reached the lysosomes in cellular models of Fabry disease, restoring lysosomal functionality much more efficiently than the recombinant enzyme in clinical use. In vivo, EVs were well tolerated and distributed among all main organs, including the brain. DiR-labelled EVs were localized in brain parenchyma 1 h after intra-arterial (internal carotid artery) or intravenous (tail vein) administrations. Moreover, a single intravenous administration of EV-GLA was able to reduce globotriaosylceramide (Gb3) substrate levels in clinically relevant tissues, such kidneys and brain. Overall, our results demonstrate that EVs from cells overexpressing lysosomal enzymes act as natural protein delivery systems, improving the activity and the efficacy of the recombinant proteins and facilitating their access to organs neglected by conventional enzyme replacement therapies.

Keywords: alpha?galactosidase a, drug delivery, enzyme replacement therapy, fabry disease, lysosomal storage disorders, n-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase, n?sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase, sanfilippo syndrome, Alpha-galactosidase a, Drug delivery, Enzyme replacement therapy, Fabry disease, Lysosomal storage disorders, N-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase, Sanfilippo syndrome


Castillo-Escario Y, Kumru H, Valls-Solé J, García-Alen L, Vidal J, Jané R, (2021). Assessment of trunk flexion in arm reaching tasks with electromyography and smartphone accelerometry in healthy human subjects Scientific Reports 11, 5363

Trunk stability is essential to maintain upright posture and support functional movements. In this study, we aimed to characterize the muscle activity and movement patterns of trunk flexion during an arm reaching task in sitting healthy subjects and investigate whether trunk stability is affected by a startling acoustic stimulus (SAS). For these purposes, we calculated the electromyographic (EMG) onset latencies and amplitude parameters in 8 trunk, neck, and shoulder muscles, and the tilt angle and movement features from smartphone accelerometer signals recorded during trunk bending in 33 healthy volunteers. Two-way repeated measures ANOVAs were applied to examine the effects of SAS and target distance (15 cm vs 30 cm). We found that SAS markedly reduced the response time and EMG onset latencies of all muscles, without changing neither movement duration nor muscle recruitment pattern. Longer durations, higher tilt angles, and higher EMG amplitudes were observed at 30 cm compared to 15 cm. The accelerometer signals had a higher frequency content in SAS trials, suggesting reduced movement control. The proposed measures have helped to establish the trunk flexion pattern in arm reaching in healthy subjects, which could be useful for future objective assessment of trunk stability in patients with neurological affections.


De Chiara F, Ferret-Miñana A, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). The synergy between organ-on-a-chip and artificial intelligence for the study of nafld: From basic science to clinical research Biomedicines 9, 1-16

Non-alcoholic fatty liver affects about 25% of global adult population. On the long-term, it is associated with extra-hepatic compliances, multiorgan failure, and death. Various invasive and non-invasive methods are employed for its diagnosis such as liver biopsies, CT scan, MRI, and numerous scoring systems. However, the lack of accuracy and reproducibility represents one of the biggest limitations of evaluating the effectiveness of drug candidates in clinical trials. Organ-on-chips (OOC) are emerging as a cost-effective tool to reproduce in vitro the main NAFLD’s pathogenic features for drug screening purposes. Those platforms have reached a high degree of complexity that generate an unprecedented amount of both structured and unstructured data that outpaced our capacity to analyze the results. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) layer for data analysis and interpretation enables those platforms to reach their full potential. Furthermore, the use of them do not require any ethic and legal regulation. In this review, we discuss the synergy between OOC and AI as one of the most promising ways to unveil potential therapeutic targets as well as the complex mechanism(s) underlying NAFLD.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, extra-hepatic outcome, nafld, organ-on-a-chip, Artificial intelligence, Extra-hepatic outcome, Nafld, Organ-on-a-chip


Estefan DP, Zucca R, Arsiwalla X, Principe A, Zhang H, Rocamora R, Axmacher N, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Volitional learning promotes theta phase coding in the human hippocampus Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 118,

© 2021 National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Electrophysiological studies in rodents show that active navigation enhances hippocampal theta oscillations (4–12 Hz), providing a temporal framework for stimulus-related neural codes. Here we show that active learning promotes a similar phase coding regime in humans, although in a lower frequency range (3–8 Hz). We analyzed intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG) from epilepsy patients who studied images under either volitional or passive learning conditions. Active learning increased memory performance and hippocampal theta oscillations and promoted a more accurate reactivation of stimulus-specific information during memory retrieval. Representational signals were clustered to opposite phases of the theta cycle during encoding and retrieval. Critically, during active but not passive learning, the temporal structure of intracycle reactivations in theta reflected the semantic similarity of stimuli, segregating conceptually similar items into more distant theta phases. Taken together, these results demonstrate a multilayered mechanism by which active learning improves memory via a phylogenetically old phase coding scheme.

Keywords: active learning, dynamics, gamma-power, hippocampus, intracranial eeg, movement, navigation, neural phase coding, oscillations, representations, retrieval, rhythm, theta oscillations, toolbox, Active learning, Theta oscillations, Working-memory


Romero-Montero A, Aguirre-Díaz IS, Puiggalí J, Del Valle LJ, Gimeno M, (2021). Self-assembly of supramolecular chemoenzymatic poly-l-phenylalanine Polymer Chemistry 12, 1199-1209

© The Royal Society of Chemistry. The self-assembly behavior of chemoenzymatic high molecular weight (ca. 30 000 Da) poly-l-phenylalanine (ePLP) and the nano-morphologies thereof are investigated. Interestingly, this supramolecular ePLP changes from a non-ordered secondary structure when solubilized in water to an α-helix with the addition of only 1 vol% HFIP co-solvent, and at a relatively low concentration (0.5 mg mL-1). The results also indicate a temperature-dependent structural stabilization, wherein the self-assembly process is mainly governed by hydrogen bonding. The analyses evidence self-assembly under controlled conditions to obtain nanotubes with an average diameter of 0.21 ± 0.04 μm, and above 100 μm length. Microbeam synchrotron radiation infrared (SRIR) spectroscopy demonstrates parallel orientations of the amide moieties in the α-helical structure, which is extraordinary for this long chain ePLP. The achievement of these highly homogeneous nanotubes is relevant since previous reports only demonstrated this arrangement for end-capped F-moc-containing short oligophenylalanines. In the same way, the conductivity behaviors of the nanotubular structure remained unchanged in the range of 273-313 K demonstrating its stability from hydrogen bonds, and also, direct dielectric measurements reveal a high orientation and stabilization by intra- and intermolecular hydrogen bonds in the nanotubes. These characteristics allow drug delivery assays with tetracycline-loaded nanotubes and further applications are envisaged.


Hirsch T, Barthel M, Aarts P, Chen YA, Freivogel S, Johnson MJ, Jones TA, Jongsma MLA, Maier M, Punt D, Sterr A, Wolf SL, Heise KF, (2021). A First Step Toward the Operationalization of the Learned Non-Use Phenomenon: A Delphi Study Neurorehabilitation And Neural Repair 35, 383-392

© The Author(s) 2021. Background: The negative discrepancy between residual functional capacity and reduced use of the contralesional hand, frequently observed after a brain lesion, has been termed Learned Non-Use (LNU) and is thought to depend on the interaction of neuronal mechanisms during recovery and learning-dependent mechanisms. Objective: Albeit the LNU phenomenon is generally accepted to exist, currently, no transdisciplinary definition exists. Furthermore, although therapeutic approaches are implemented in clinical practice targeting LNU, no standardized diagnostic routine is described in the available literature. Our objective was to reach consensus regarding a definition as well as synthesize knowledge about the current diagnostic procedures. Methods: We used a structured group communication following the Delphi method among clinical and scientific experts in the field, knowledge from both, the work with patient populations and with animal models. Results: Consensus was reached regarding a transdisciplinary definition of the LNU phenomenon. Furthermore, the mode and strategy of the diagnostic process, as well as the sources of information and outcome parameters relevant for the clinical decision making, were described with a wide range showing the current lack of a consistent universal diagnostic approach. Conclusions: The need for the development of a structured diagnostic procedure and its implementation into clinical practice is emphasized. Moreover, it exists a striking gap between the prevailing hypotheses regarding the mechanisms underlying the LNU phenomenon and the actual evidence. Therefore, basic research is needed to bridge between bedside and bench and eventually improve clinical decision making and further development of interventional strategies beyond the field of stroke rehabilitation.

Keywords: diagnosis, experience-dependent non-use, perceptual disorders, rehabilitation, sensorimotor learning, Diagnosis, Experience-dependent non-use, Perceptual disorders, Rehabilitation, Sensorimotor learning


Gabasa M, Radisky ES, Ikemori R, Bertolini G, Arshakyan M, Hockla A, Duch P, Rondinone O, Llorente A, Maqueda M, Davalos A, Gavilán E, Perera A, Ramírez J, Gascón P, Reguart N, Roz L, Radisky DC, Alcaraz J, (2021). MMP1 drives tumor progression in large cell carcinoma of the lung through fibroblast senescence Cancer Letters 507, 1-12

© 2021 Large cell carcinoma (LCC) is a rare and aggressive lung cancer subtype with poor prognosis and no targeted therapies. Tumor-associated fibroblasts (TAFs) derived from LCC tumors exhibit premature senescence, and coculture of pulmonary fibroblasts with LCC cell lines selectively induces fibroblast senescence, which in turn drives LCC cell growth and invasion. Here we identify MMP1 as overexpressed specifically in LCC cell lines, and we show that expression of MMP1 by LCC cells is necessary for induction of fibroblast senescence and consequent tumor promotion in both cell culture and mouse models. We also show that MMP1, in combination with TGF-β1, is sufficient to induce fibroblast senescence and consequent LCC promotion. Furthermore, we implicate PAR-1 and oxidative stress in MMP1/TGF-β1-induced TAF senescence. Our results establish an entirely new role for MMP1 in cancer, and support a novel therapeutic strategy in LCC based on targeting senescent TAFs.

Keywords: cancer-associated fibroblasts, lung cancer, mmp1, senescence, tgf-?, tgf-beta, Cancer-associated fibroblasts, Lung cancer, Mmp1, Senescence, Tgf-β


Olmo C, Franco L, Vidal A, Del Valle LJ, Puiggalí J, (2021). Ultrasound micromolding of porous polylactide/hydroxyapatite scaffolds Express Polymer Letters 15, 389-403

© BME-PT. Ultrasound micromolding (USM) preparation of hybrid scaffolds based on polylactide (PLA) and hydroxyapatite (HAp) particles has been evaluated. PLA was stable under the applied ultrasound source since a minimum degradation was detected. Porous materials were achieved using polyethylene glycol (PEG) and NaCl salts to the initial PLA and the subsequent leaching of the micromolded specimens. To avoid cavitation and decomposition problems during micromolding, it was necessary to use HAp free of typical synthesis impurities like carbonate and nitrate compounds. Compact PLA/HAp pieces allowed a maximum HAp load of 60 wt%, while porous specimens could be obtained with a maximum load of 38 wt%. Physical characterization of new scaffolds was performed by X-ray diffraction, spectroscopic and calorimetric techniques, stress-strain tests and contact angle measurements. Results indicated that a degree of porosity of 35% and relatively good mechanical properties could be achieved (i.e., 580 MPa, 4%, and 15.6 MPa for the Young modulus, elongation at break, and tensile strength, respectively). Scaffolds showed the positive effect of HAp and porosity on cell proliferation; this latter was 40% higher than that detected for non-porous PLA specimens.

Keywords: apatite, conformation, fabrication, hydroxyapatite, micropieces, polymers, porous scaffolds, proliferation, tissue, ultrasound micromolding, vibration, Composite scaffolds, Hydroxyapatite, Micropieces, Porous scaffolds, Processing technologies, Ultrasound micromolding


Babeli I, Ruano G, Puiggalí-Jou A, Ginebra MP, Alemán C, Garcia-Torres J, (2021). Self-Healable and Eco-Friendly Hydrogels for Flexible Supercapacitors Advanced Sustainable Systems 5

© 2021 Wiley-VCH GmbH One limitation of wearable electronics, and at the same time a challenge, is the lack of energy storage devices with multiple functionalities produced using clean and environmental-friendly strategies. Here, a multifunctional conductive hydrogel containing poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) and alginate is fabricated, to be used as electrodes in supercapacitors, by applying water-mediated self-assembly and polymerization processes at room temperature. The interpenetration of both polymers allows the combination of flexibility and self-healing properties within the same hydrogel together with the intrinsic biocompatibility and sustainability of such materials. Initially, PEDOT:polystyrene sulfonate and alginate aqueous solutions are mixed in two different proportions (1:1 and 1:3) and ionically crosslinked with CaCl2. Subsequently, re-interpenetration of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) by anodic polymerization in CaCl2 aqueous solution is achieved. Re-interpenetrated 1:3 PEDOT/alginate hydrogels show excellent capacitance values (35 mF cm−2) and good capacitance retention. In addition, the electrochemical properties are not significantly changed after many cutting/self-healing cycles as observed by cyclic voltammetry. Therefore, this sustainably produced hydrogel shows promising properties for use in wearable energy storage devices.

Keywords: flexibility, pedot:pss-alginate hydrogels, self-healing, sustainability, Electrochemical supercapacitors, Flexibility, Pedot:pss-alginate hydrogels, Self-healing, Sustainability


Tampieri F, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Quantification of Plasma-Produced Hydroxyl Radicals in Solution and their Dependence on the pH ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY 93, 3666-3670

© 2021 American Chemical Society. HO radicals are the most important reactive species generated during water treatment by non-thermal plasma devices. In this letter, we report the first quantification of the steady-state concentration and lifetime of plasma-produced hydroxyl radicals in water solutions at pH 3 and 7, and we discuss the differences based on their reactivity with other plasma-generated species. Finally, we show to what extent the use of chemical probes to quantify short-lived reactive species has an influence on the results and that it should be taken into account.


Campo-Pérez V, Cendra MdM, Julián E, Torrents E, (2021). Easily applicable modifications to electroporation conditions improve the transformation efficiency rates for rough morphotypes of fast-growing mycobacteria New Biotechnology 63, 10-18

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. Electroporation is the most widely used and efficient method to transform mycobacteria. Through this technique, fast- and slow-growing mycobacteria with smooth and rough morphotypes have been successfully transformed. However, transformation efficiencies differ widely between species and strains. In this study, the smooth and rough morphotypes of Mycobacteroides abscessus and Mycolicibacterium brumae were used to improve current electroporation procedures for fast-growing rough mycobacteria. The focus was on minimizing three well-known and challenging limitations: the mycobacterial restriction-modification systems, which degrade foreign DNA; clump formation of electrocompetent cells before electroporation; and electrical discharges during pulse delivery, which were reduced by using salt-free DNA solution. Herein, different strategies are presented that successfully address these three limitations and clearly improve the electroporation efficiencies over the current procedures. The results demonstrated that combining the developed strategies during electroporation is highly recommended for the transformation of fast-growing rough mycobacteria.

Keywords: clump, desalted dna, electroporation, mycobacteria, mycobacteroides abscessus, mycolicibacterium brumae, Clump, Desalted dna, Electroporation, Mycobacteria, Mycobacteroides abscessus, Mycolicibacterium brumae


Estrada-Petrocelli L, Torres A, Sarlabous L, Rafols-De-Urquia M, Ye-Lin Y, Prats-Boluda G, Jane R, Garcia-Casado J, (2021). Evaluation of Respiratory Muscle Activity by Means of Concentric Ring Electrodes IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON BIOMEDICAL ENGINEERING 68, 1005-1014

© 1964-2012 IEEE. Surface electromyography (sEMG) can be used for the evaluation of respiratory muscle activity. Recording sEMG involves the use of surface electrodes in a bipolar configuration. However, electrocardiographic (ECG) interference and electrode orientation represent considerable drawbacks to bipolar acquisition. As an alternative, concentric ring electrodes (CREs) can be used for sEMG acquisition and offer great potential for the evaluation of respiratory muscle activity due to their enhanced spatial resolution and simple placement protocol, which does not depend on muscle fiber orientation. The aim of this work was to analyze the performance of CREs during respiratory sEMG acquisitions. Respiratory muscle sEMG was applied to the diaphragm and sternocleidomastoid muscles using a bipolar and a CRE configuration. Thirty-two subjects underwent four inspiratory load spontaneous breathing tests which was repeated after interchanging the electrode positions. We calculated parameters such as (1) spectral power and (2) median frequency during inspiration, and power ratios of inspiratory sEMG without ECG in relation to (3) basal sEMG without ECG (Rins/noise), (4) basal sEMG with ECG (Rins/cardio) and (5) expiratory sEMG without ECG (Rins/exp). Spectral power, Rins/noise and Rins/cardio increased with the inspiratory load. Significantly higher values (p < 0.05) of Rins/cardio and significantly higher median frequencies were obtained for CREs. Rins/noise and Rins/exp were higher for the bipolar configuration only in diaphragm sEMG recordings, whereas no significant differences were found in the sternocleidomastoid recordings. Our results suggest that the evaluation of respiratory muscle activity by means of sEMG can benefit from the remarkably reduced influence of cardiac activity, the enhanced detection of the shift in frequency content and the axial isotropy of CREs which facilitates its placement.

Keywords: atmospheric measurements, concentric ring electrodes, electrocardiography, electrodes, electromyography, laplacian potential, non-invasive respiratory monitoring, particle measurements, respiratory muscles, surface electromyography, Concentric ring electrodes, Laplacian potential, Muscles, Non-invasive respiratory monitoring, Respiratory muscles, Surface electromyography


Pérez-López B, Mir M, (2021). Commercialized diagnostic technologies to combat SARS-CoV2: Advantages and disadvantages Talanta 225,

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. The current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic is indicated by a huge number of infections, high lethality, and rapid spread. These circumstances have stopped the activity of almost the entire world, affecting severely the global economy. A rapid diagnosis of the Covid-19 and a generalized testing protocol is essential to fight against the pandemic and to maintain health control in the population. Principal biosensing and diagnostic technologies used to monitor the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 are based on specific genomic analysis and rapid immune tests, both with different technology platforms that include advantages and disadvantages. Most of the in vitro diagnosis companies are competing to be the first on validating under different regulations their technology for placing their platforms for Covid-19 detection as fast as possible in this big international market. A comprehensive analysis of the commercialized technologies for the genomic based sensing and the antibody/antigen detection methods devoted to Covid-19 diagnosis is described in this review, which have been detailed and listed under different countries regulations. The effectiveness of the described technologies throughout the different stages of the disease and a critical comparison of the emerging technologies in the market to counterattack this pandemic have been discussed.

Keywords: covid-19, in vitro diagnosis (ivd), lateral flow immunoassay, point of care (poc), reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rt-pcr), sars-cov-2, Covid-19, In vitro diagnosis (ivd), Lateral flow immunoassay, Point of care (poc), Reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rt-pcr), Sars-cov-2


Keridou I, Franco L, del Valle LJ, Martínez JC, Funk L, Turon P, Puiggalí J, (2021). Hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation of biobased poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) films. Selective etching of spherulites POLYMER DEGRADATION AND STABILITY 183

© 2020 Hydrolytic degradation of poly(4-hydroxybutyrate) (P4HB) films has been studied considering media of different pH values (i.e., 3, 7 and 10) and temperatures (i.e., 37 and 55 °C). Enzymatic degradation has also been evaluated at physiological conditions using two different lipases: Pseudomonas cepacia and Rhizopus oryzae. Different bulk and surface erosion mechanisms with random chain scissions and successive removal of monomer units have been supported through weight loss measurements, molecular weight determinations by GPC and NMR spectroscopy and changes on thermal properties by DSC. Thermal annealing during exposure to different media and even degradation influenced on the melting temperature and crystallinity of samples, as well as on the lamellar geometrical parameters as evaluated by SAXS. Enzymatic degradation was ideal to selectively eliminate the amorphous regions and highlight the spherulitic morphology. Presence of ringed textures were therefore evident in bright field optical micrographs in addition to SEM images, namely observations under polarized light was not necessary to distinguish the presence of banded spherulites. Rhizopus oryzae was revealed to be the most suitable enzyme to crop out the P4HB spherulites that form part of the initial smooth surfaces of solvent casting films. After determining the appropriate activity and exposure time, the presence of rings constituted by cooperative C-shaped edge-on lamellae and flat-on lamellae was highlighted.

Keywords: biodegradable polymers, enzymatic degradation, films, hydrolytic degradation, microstructure, thermal properties, Biodegradable polymers, Enzymatic degradation, Films, Hydrolytic degradation, Microstructure, Poly(4-hydroxybutyrate), Thermal properties


Mateu-Sanz, M, Tornin, J, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2021). Cold Atmospheric Plasma: A New Strategy Based Primarily on Oxidative Stress for Osteosarcoma Therapy Journal of Clinical Medicine 10, 1-29

Osteosarcoma is the most common primary bone tumor, and its first line of treatment presents a high failure rate. The 5-year survival for children and teenagers with osteosarcoma is 70% (if diagnosed before it has metastasized) or 20% (if spread at the time of diagnosis), stressing the need for novel therapies. Recently, cold atmospheric plasmas (ionized gases consisting of UV-Vis radiation, electromagnetic fields and a great variety of reactive species) and plasma-treated liquids have been shown to have the potential to selectively eliminate cancer cells in different tumors through an oxidative stress-dependent mechanism. In this work, we review the current state of the art in cold plasma therapy for osteosarcoma. Specifically, we emphasize the mechanisms unveiled thus far regarding the action of plasmas on osteosarcoma. Finally, we review current and potential future approaches, emphasizing the most critical challenges for the development of osteosarcoma therapies based on this emerging technique.

Keywords: cancer stem cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma treated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Antineoplastic activity, Antineoplastic agent, Cancer chemotherapy, Cancer stem cell, Cancer stem cells, Cancer surgery, Cancer survival, Cell therapy, Cold atmospheric plasma, Cold atmospheric plasma therapy, Electromagnetism, Human, In vitro study, Intracellular signaling, Oncogene, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma treated liquids, Reactive nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, Reactive oxygen metabolite, Review, Tumor microenvironment


López-Ortiz M, Zamora RA, Antinori ME, Remesh V, Hu C, Croce R, Van Hulst NF, Gorostiza P, (2021). Fast Photo-Chrono-Amperometry of Photosynthetic Complexes for Biosensors and Electron Transport Studies ACS Sensors 6, 581-587

© 2021 American Chemical Society. Photosynthetic reactions in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria are driven by photosystem I and photosystem II complexes, which specifically reduce or oxidize partner redox biomolecules. Photosynthetic complexes can also bind synthetic organic molecules, which inhibit their photoactivity and can be used both to study the electron transport chain and as herbicides and algicides. Thus, their development, characterization, and sensing bears fundamental and applied interest. Substantial efforts have been devoted to developing photosensors based on photosystem II to detect compounds that bind to the plastoquinone sites of this complex. In comparison, photosystem I based sensors have received less attention and could be used to identify novel substances displaying phytotoxic effects, including those obtained from natural product extracts. We have developed a robust procedure to functionalize gold electrodes with photo- and redox-active photosystem I complexes based on transparent gold and a thiolate self-assembled monolayer, and we have obtained reproducible electrochemical photoresponses. Chronoamperometric recordings have allowed us to measure photocurrents in the presence of the viologen derivative paraquat at concentrations below 100 nM under lock-in operation and a sensor dynamic range spanning six orders of magnitude up to 100 mM. We have modeled their time course to identify the main electrochemical processes and limiting steps in the electron transport chain. Our results allow us to isolate the contributions from photosystem I and the redox mediator, and evaluate photocurrent features (spectral and power dependence, fast transient kinetics) that could be used as a sensing signal to detect other inhibitors and modulators of photosystem I activity.

Keywords: biosensor, herbicide, kinetic model, paraquat, photo-chrono-amperometry, photosystem i, self-assembled monolayer, transparent gold microelectrode, Biosensor, Herbicide, Kinetic model, Paraquat, Photo-chrono-amperometry, Photosystem i, Self-assembled monolayer, Transparent gold microelectrode


Moreira VB, Puiggalí-Jou A, Jiménez-Piqué E, Alemán C, Meneguzzi A, Armelin E, (2021). Green nanocoatings based on the deposition of zirconium oxide: The role of the substrate Materials (Basel) 14, 1-18

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Herein, the influence of the substrate in the formation of zirconium oxide monolayer, from an aqueous hexafluorozirconic acid solution, by chemical conversion and by electro-assisted deposi-tion, has been approached. The nanoscale dimensions of the ZrO2 film is affected by the substrate nature and roughness. This study evidenced that the mechanism of Zr-EAD is dependent on the potential applied and on the substrate composition, whereas conversion coating is uniquely dependent on the adsorption reaction time. The zirconium oxide based nanofilms were more homogenous in AA2024 substrates if compared to pure Al grade (AA1100). It was justified by the high content of Cu alloying element present in the grain boundaries of the latter. Such intermetallic active sites favor the obtaining of ZrO2 films, as demonstrated by XPS and AFM results. From a mechanistic point of view, the electrochemical reactions take place simultaneously with the conventional chemical conversion process driven by ions diffusion. Such findings will bring new perspectives for the generation of controlled oxide coatings in modified electrodes used, as for example, in the construction of battery cells; in automotive and in aerospace industries, to replace micrometric layers of zinc phosphate by light-weight zirconium oxide nanometric ones. This study is particularly addressed for the reduction of industrial waste by applying green bath solutions without the need of auxiliary compounds and using lightweight ceramic materials.

Keywords: aluminum alloys, conversion coating, electro-assisted deposition, metal-oxide interface, nanocoating, zirconium oxide, Aluminum alloys, Conversion coating, Electro-assisted deposition, Metal-oxide interface, Nanocoating, Zirconium oxide


Lozano-García M, Estrada-Petrocelli L, Torres A, Rafferty GF, Moxham J, Jolley CJ, Jané R, (2021). Noninvasive assessment of neuromechanical coupling and mechanical efficiency of parasternal intercostal muscle during inspiratory threshold loading Sensors 21, 1-15

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This study aims to investigate noninvasive indices of neuromechanical coupling (NMC) and mechanical efficiency (MEff) of parasternal intercostal muscles. Gold standard assessment of diaphragm NMC requires using invasive techniques, limiting the utility of this procedure. Nonin-vasive NMC indices of parasternal intercostal muscles can be calculated using surface mechano-myography (sMMGpara) and electromyography (sEMGpara). However, the use of sMMGpara as an in-spiratory muscle mechanical output measure, and the relationships between sMMGpara, sEMGpara, and simultaneous invasive and noninvasive pressure measurements have not previously been eval-uated. sEMGpara, sMMGpara, and both invasive and noninvasive measurements of pressures were recorded in twelve healthy subjects during an inspiratory loading protocol. The ratios of sMMGpara to sEMGpara, which provided muscle-specific noninvasive NMC indices of parasternal intercostal muscles, showed nonsignificant changes with increasing load, since the relationships between sMMGpara and sEMGpara were linear (R2 = 0.85 (0.75–0.9)). The ratios of mouth pressure (Pmo) to sEMGpara and sMMGpara were also proposed as noninvasive indices of parasternal intercostal muscle NMC and MEff, respectively. These indices, similar to the analogous indices calculated using invasive transdiaphragmatic and esophageal pressures, showed nonsignificant changes during threshold loading, since the relationships between Pmo and both sEMGpara (R2 = 0.84 (0.77–0.93)) and sMMGpara (R2 = 0.89 (0.85–0.91)) were linear. The proposed noninvasive NMC and MEff indices of parasternal intercostal muscles may be of potential clinical value, particularly for the regular assessment of patients with disordered respiratory mechanics using noninvasive wearable and wireless devices.

Keywords: inspiratory threshold loading, neuromechanical coupling, parasternal intercostal muscles, respiratory pressure, surface electromyography, surface mechanomyography, Inspiratory threshold loading, Neuromechanical coupling, Parasternal intercostal mus-cles, Respiratory pressure, Surface electromyography, Surface mechanomyography


Magdanz V, Vivaldi J, Mohanty S, Klingner A, Vendittelli M, Simmchen J, Misra S, Khalil ISM, (2021). Impact of Segmented Magnetization on the Flagellar Propulsion of Sperm-Templated Microrobots Advanced Science 8, 2004037

© 2021 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH Technical design features for improving the way a passive elastic filament produces propulsive thrust can be understood by analyzing the deformation of sperm-templated microrobots with segmented magnetization. Magnetic nanoparticles are electrostatically self-assembled on bovine sperm cells with nonuniform surface charge, producing different categories of sperm-templated microrobots. Depending on the amount and location of the nanoparticles on each cellular segment, magnetoelastic and viscous forces determine the wave pattern of each category during flagellar motion. Passively propagating waves are induced along the length of these microrobots using external rotating magnetic fields and the resultant wave patterns are measured. The response of the microrobots to the external field reveals distinct flow fields, propulsive thrust, and frequency responses during flagellar propulsion. This work allows predictions for optimizing the design and propulsion of flexible magnetic microrobots with segmented magnetization.

Keywords: biohybrid microrobots, flagellar propulsion, magnetic actuation, nanoparticles, sperm cells, Biohybrid microrobots, Flagellar propulsion, Magnetic actuation, Nanoparticles, Sperm cells


Badiola-Mateos M, Di Giuseppe D, Paoli R, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Mencattini A, Samitier J, Martinelli E, (2021). A novel multi-frequency trans-endothelial electrical resistance (MTEER) sensor array to monitor blood-brain barrier integrity Sensors And Actuators B-Chemical 334,

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a dynamic cellular barrier that regulates brain nutrient supply, waste efflux, and paracellular diffusion through specialized junctional complexes. Finding a system to mimic and monitor BBB integrity (i.e., to be able to assess the effect of certain compounds on opening or closing the barrier) is of vital importance in several pathologies. This work aims to overcome some limitations of current barrier integrity measuring techniques thanks to a multi-layer microfluidic platform with integrated electrodes and Multi-frequency Trans-Endothelial Electrical Resistance (MTEER) in synergy with machine learning algorithms. MTEER measurements are performed across the barrier in a range of frequencies up to 10 MHz highlighting the presence of information on different frequency ranges. Results show that the proposed platform can detect barrier formation, opening, and regeneration afterwards, correlating with the results obtained from immunostaining of junctional complexes. This model presents novel techniques for a future biological barrier in-vitro studies that could potentially help on elucidating barrier opening or sealing on treatments with different drugs.

Keywords: blood-brain barrier, cellular barrier integrity monitoring, impedance sensors, machine learning, microelectrodes, mteer, rapid prototyping, Blood-brain barrier, Cellular barrier integrity monitoring, Electrical impedance spectroscopy, Impedance sensors, Machine learning, Microelectrodes, Mteer, Rapid prototyping


Qamar B, Solomon M, Marin A, Fuerst TR, Andrianov AK, Muro S, (2021). Intracellular delivery of active proteins by polyphosphazene polymers Pharmaceutics 13, 1-21

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Achieving intracellular delivery of protein therapeutics within cells remains a significant challenge. Although custom formulations are available for some protein therapeutics, the development of non‐toxic delivery systems that can incorporate a variety of active protein cargo and maintain their stability, is a topic of great relevance. This study utilized ionic polyphosphazenes (PZ) that can assemble into supramolecular complexes through non‐covalent interactions with different types of protein cargo. We tested a PEGylated graft copolymer (PZ‐PEG) and a pyrrolidone containing linear derivative (PZ‐PYR) for their ability to intracellularly deliver FITC‐avidin, a model protein. In endothelial cells, PZ‐PYR/protein exhibited both faster internalization and higher uptake levels than PZ‐PEG/protein, while in cancer cells both polymers achieved similar uptake levels over time, although the internalization rate was slower for PZ‐PYR/protein. Uptake was mediated by endocytosis through multiple mechanisms, PZ‐PEG/avidin colocalized more profusely with endo-lysosomes, and PZ‐PYR/avidin achieved greater cytosolic delivery. Consequently, a PZ‐PYR-delivered anti‐F‐actin antibody was able to bind to cytosolic actin filaments without needing cell permeabilization. Similarly, a cell‐impermeable Bax‐BH3 peptide known to induce apoptosis, decreased cell viability when complexed with PZ‐PYR, demonstrating endo‐lysosomal escape. These biodegradable PZs were non‐toxic to cells and represent a promising platform for drug delivery of protein therapeutics.

Keywords: cytosolic delivery, cytotoxicity, delivery of apoptotic peptides, endosomal escape, intracellular delivery of antibody, intracellular protein delivery, Cytosolic delivery, Cytotoxicity, Delivery of apoptotic peptides, Endosomal escape, Intracellular delivery of antibody, Intracellular protein delivery, Polyphosphazene polymers


Chacon DS, Torres TM, da Silva IB, de Araújo TF, Roque AdA, Pinheiro FASD, Selegato D, Pilon A, Reginaldo FPS, da Costa CT, Vilasboa J, Freire RT, Voigt EL, Zuanazzi JAS, Libonati R, Rodrigues JA, Santos FLM, Scortecci KC, Lopes NP, Ferreira LDS, dos Santos LV, Cavalheiro AJ, Fett-Neto AG, Giordani RB, (2021). Erythrina velutina Willd. alkaloids: Piecing biosynthesis together from transcriptome analysis and metabolite profiling of seeds and leaves Journal of Advanced Research 34, 123-136

© 2021 Introduction: Natural products of pharmaceutical interest often do not reach the drug market due to the associated low yields and difficult extraction. Knowledge of biosynthetic pathways is a key element in the development of biotechnological strategies for plant specialized metabolite production. The scarce studies regarding non-model plants impair advances in this field. Erythrina spp. are mainly used as central nervous system depressants in folk medicine and are important sources of bioactive tetracyclic benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, which can act on several pathology-related biological targets. Objective: Herein the purpose is to employ combined transcriptome and metabolome analyses (seeds and leaves) of a non-model medicinal Fabaceae species grown in its unique arid natural habitat. The study tries to propose a putative biosynthetic pathway for the bioactive alkaloids by using an omic integrated approach. Methods: The Next Generation Sequencing-based transcriptome (de novo RNA sequencing) was carried out in a Illumina NextSeq 500 platform. Regarding the targeted metabolite profiling, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and the High-Performance Liquid Chromatography coupled to a micrOTOF-QII, High Resolution Mass Spectrometer, were used. Results: This detailed macro and micromolecular approach applied to seeds and leaves of E. velutina revealed 42 alkaloids by metabolome tools. Based on the combined evidence, 24 gene candidates were put together in a putative pathway leading to the singular alkaloid diversity of this species. Conclusion: These results contribute by indicating potential biotechnological targets Erythrina alkaloids biosynthesis as well as to improve molecular databases with omic data from a non-model medicinal plant. Furthermore, they reveal an interesting chemical diversity in Erythrina velutina harvested in Caatinga. Last, but not least, this data may also contribute to tap Brazilian biodiversity in a rational and sustainable fashion, promoting adequate public policies for preservation and protection of sensitive areas within the Caatinga.

Keywords: benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, caatinga, codeinone reductase, erythrina velutina, expression, mass-spectrometry, molecular-cloning, morphine biosynthesis, natural-products, opium poppy, papaver-somniferum, plant-metabolism, targeted metabolite profile, transcriptome, Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids, Berberine bridge enzyme, Caatinga, Erythrina velutina, Targeted metabolite profile, Transcriptome


Fernández-Costa JM, Fernández-Garibay X, Velasco-Mallorquí F, Ramón-Azcón J, (2021). Bioengineered in vitro skeletal muscles as new tools for muscular dystrophies preclinical studies Journal of Tissue Engineering 12,

© The Author(s) 2021. Muscular dystrophies are a group of highly disabling disorders that share degenerative muscle weakness and wasting as common symptoms. To date, there is not an effective cure for these diseases. In the last years, bioengineered tissues have emerged as powerful tools for preclinical studies. In this review, we summarize the recent technological advances in skeletal muscle tissue engineering. We identify several ground-breaking techniques to fabricate in vitro bioartificial muscles. Accumulating evidence shows that scaffold-based tissue engineering provides topographical cues that enhance the viability and maturation of skeletal muscle. Functional bioartificial muscles have been developed using human myoblasts. These tissues accurately responded to electrical and biological stimulation. Moreover, advanced drug screening tools can be fabricated integrating these tissues in electrical stimulation platforms. However, more work introducing patient-derived cells and integrating these tissues in microdevices is needed to promote the clinical translation of bioengineered skeletal muscle as preclinical tools for muscular dystrophies.

Keywords: biomaterials, drug screening platforms, muscular dystrophy, skeletal muscle, tissue engineering, Biomaterials, Drug screening platforms, Muscular dystrophy, Skeletal muscle, Tissue engineering


Garcia J, Fernández-Pradas JM, Lladó A, Serra P, Zalvidea D, Kogan MJ, Giralt E, Sánchez-Navarro M, (2021). The Combined Use of Gold Nanoparticles and Infrared Radiation Enables Cytosolic Protein Delivery Chemistry-A European Journal 27, 4670-4675

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Cytosolic protein delivery remains elusive. The inability of most proteins to cross the cellular membrane is a huge hurdle. Here we explore the unique photothermal properties of gold nanorods (AuNRs) to trigger cytosolic delivery of proteins. Both partners, protein and AuNRs, are modified with a protease-resistant cell-penetrating peptide with nuclear targeting properties to induce internalization. Once internalized, spatiotemporal control of protein release is achieved by near-infrared laser irradiation in the safe second biological window. Importantly, catalytic amounts of AuNRs are sufficient to trigger cytosolic protein delivery. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time that AuNRs with their maximum of absorption in the second biological window are used to deliver proteins into the intracellular space. This strategy represents a powerful tool for the cytosolic delivery of virtually any class of protein.

Keywords: cell-penetrating peptide, cytosolic delivery, gold nanorod, near-infrared irradiation, Cell-penetrating peptide, Cytosolic delivery, Gold nanorod, Near-infrared irradiation


Roki N, Solomon M, Casta L, Bowers J, Getts RC, Muro S, (2021). A method to improve quantitative radiotracing-based analysis of the in vivo biodistribution of drug carriers Bioeng Transl Med 6,

© 2020 The Authors. Bioengineering & Translational Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The American Institute of Chemical Engineers. Biodistribution studies are essential in drug carrier design and translation, and radiotracing provides a sensitive quantitation for this purpose. Yet, for biodegradable formulations, small amounts of free-label signal may arise prior to or immediately after injection in animal models, causing potentially confounding biodistribution results. In this study, we refined a method to overcome this obstacle. First, we verified free signal generation in animal samples and then, mimicking it in a controllable setting, we injected mice intravenously with a radiolabeled drug carrier formulation (125I-antibody/3DNA) containing a known amount of free radiolabel (125I), or free 125I alone as a control. Corrected biodistribution data were obtained by separating the free radiolabel from blood and organs postmortem, using trichloroacetic acid precipitation, and subtracting the confounding signal from each tissue measurement. Control free 125I-radiolabel was detected at ≥85% accuracy in blood and tissues, validating the method. It biodistributed very heterogeneously among organs (0.6–39 %ID/g), indicating that any free 125I generated in the body or present in an injected formulation cannot be simply corrected to the free-label fraction in the original preparation, but the free label must be empirically measured in each organ. Application of this method to the biodistribution of 125I-antibody/3DNA, including formulations directed to endothelial target ICAM-1, showed accurate classification of free 125I species in blood and tissues. In addition, this technique rendered data on the in vivo degradation of the traced agents over time. Thus, this is a valuable technique to obtain accurate measurements of biodistribution using 125I and possibly other radiotracers.

Keywords: biodistribution data correction, degradation, drug delivery carriers, free label, in vivo biodistribution, radiotracing, trichloroacetic acid precipitation, Biodistribution data correction, Degradation, Drug delivery carriers, Free label, In vivo biodistribution, Radiotracing, Trichloroacetic acid precipitation


Paoli R, Di Giuseppe D, Badiola-Mateos M, Martinelli E, Lopez-Martinez MJ, Samitier J, (2021). Rapid manufacturing of multilayered microfluidic devices for organ on a chip applications Sensors 21, 1-13

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Microfabrication and Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) soft-lithography techniques became popular for microfluidic prototyping at the lab, but even after protocol optimization, fabrication is yet a long, laborious process and partly user-dependent. Furthermore, the time and money required for the master fabrication process, necessary at any design upgrade, is still elevated. Digital Manufacturing (DM) and Rapid-Prototyping (RP) for microfluidics applications arise as a solution to this and other limitations of photo and soft-lithography fabrication techniques. Particularly for this paper, we will focus on the use of subtractive DM techniques for Organ-on-a-Chip (OoC) applications. Main available thermoplastics for microfluidics are suggested as material choices for device fabrication. The aim of this review is to explore DM and RP technologies for fabrication of an OoC with an embedded membrane after the evaluation of the main limitations of PDMS soft-lithography strategy. Different material options are also reviewed, as well as various bonding strategies. Finally, a new functional OoC device is showed, defining protocols for its fabrication in Cyclic Olefin Polymer (COP) using two different RP technologies. Different cells are seeded in both sides of the membrane as a proof of concept to test the optical and fluidic properties of the device.

Keywords: digital manufacturing, microfluidics, organ on a chip, rapid prototyping, Digital manufacturing, Microfluidics, Organ on a chip, Rapid prototyping


Low SC, Vouloutsi V, Verschure PFMJ, (2021). Complementary interactions between classical and top-down driven inhibitory mechanisms of attention Cognitive Systems Research 67, 66-72

© 2020 The Authors Selective attention informs decision-making by biasing perceptual processing towards task-relevant stimuli. In experimental and computational literature, this is most often implemented through top-down excitation of selected stimuli. However, physiological and anatomical evidence shows that in certain situations, top-down signals could instead be inhibitory. In this study, we investigated how such an inhibitory mechanism of top-down attention compares with an excitatory one. We did so in a neurorobotics context where the agent was controlled using an established hierarchical architecture. We augmented the architecture with an attentional system that implemented top-down attention biasing as connection gains. We tested four models of top-down attention on the simulated agent performing a foraging task: without top-down biasing, with only excitatory top-down gain, with only inhibitory top-down gain, and with both excitatory and inhibitory top-down gain. We manipulated the reward-distractor ratio that was presented and assessed the agent's performance using accumulated rewards and the latency of the selection. Using these measures, we provide evidence that excitatory and inhibitory mechanisms of attention complement each other.

Keywords: embodied cognition, foraging, inhibition, Embodied cognition, Foraging, Inhibition, Selective attention


Vidal, E, Guillem-Marti, J, Ginebra, MP, Combes, C, Ruperez, E, Rodriguez, D, (2021). Multifunctional homogeneous calcium phosphate coatings: Toward antibacterial and cell adhesive titanium scaffolds SURFACE & COATINGS TECHNOLOGY 405,

Implants for orthopedic applications need to be biocompatible and bioactive, with mechanical properties similar to those of surrounding natural bone. Given this scenario titanium (Ti) scaffolds obtained by Direct Ink Writing technique offer the opportunity to manufacture customized structures with controlled porosity and mechanical properties. Considering that 3D Ti scaffolds have a significant surface area, it is necessary to develop strategies against the initial bacterial adhesion in order to prevent infection in the early stages of the implantation, while promoting cell adhesion to the scaffold. The challenge is not only achieving a balance between antibacterial activity and osseointegration, it is also to develop a homogeneous coating on the inner and outer surface of the scaffold. The purpose of this work was the development of a single-step electrodeposition process in order to uniformly cover Ti scaffolds with a layer of calcium phosphate (CaP) loaded with chlorhexidine digluconate (CHX). Scaffold characterization was assessed by scanning electron microscopy, Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction, micro-Raman microscopy and compressive strength tests. Results determined that the surface of scaffolds was covered by plate-like and whisker-like calcium phosphate crystals, which main phases were octacalcium phosphate and brushite. Biological tests showed that the as-coated scaffolds reduced bacteria adhesion (73 +/- 3% for Staphylococcus aureus and 70 +/- 2% for Escherichia coli). In vitro cell studies and confocal analysis revealed the adhesion and spreading of osteoblast-like SaOS-2 on coated surfaces. Therefore, the proposed strategy can be a potential candidate in bone replacing surgeries.

Keywords: Antibacterial, Bacterial, Behavior, Biocompatibility, Calcium phosphate coating, Chlorhexidine, Chlorhexidine digluconate, Deposition, Electrodeposition, Hydroxyapatite coatings, Implants, One-step pulse electrodeposition, Plasma-spray, Release, Surface, Titanium scaffolds


De Matteis V, Rizzello L, Ingrosso C, Rinaldi R, (2021). Purification of olive mill wastewater through noble metal nanoparticle synthesis: waste safe disposal and nanomaterial impact on healthy hepatic cell mitochondria Environmental Science And Pollution Research 28, 26154-26171

The exponential increase of waste derived from different human activities points out the importance of their reuse in order to create materials with specific properties that can be used for different applications. In this work, it was showed how the typical Mediterranean organic liquid waste, namely olive mill wastewater (OMWW), obtained during olive oil production, can be turned into an efficient reactive agent for the production of noble metals gold (Au) and silver nanoparticles (Ag NPs) with very well-defined physico-chemical properties. More than that, it was demonstrated that this synthetic procedure also leads to a drastic decrease of the organic pollution load of the OMWW, making it safer for environmental disposal and plants irrigation. Then, using healthy hepatic cell line mitochondria, the biological effects induced by these green metal NPs surrounded by a polyphenols shell, with the same NPs synthetized through a standard chemical colloidal reduction process, were compared, finding out that the green NPs are much safer.

Keywords: antioxidants perturbation, green synthesis, gtpase dynamin-related protein 1 expression, mitochondria assessment, physico-chemical properties, Antioxidants perturbation, Green synthesis, Gtpase dynamin-related protein 1 expression, Mitochondria assessment, Physico-chemical properties, Reusability of waste


Pinheiro, ND, Freire, RT, Conrado, JAM, Batista, AD, Petruci, JFD, (2021). Paper-based optoelectronic nose for identification of indoor air pollution caused by 3D printing thermoplastic filaments Analytica Chimica Acta 1143, 1-8

Commercial printers based on fused deposition modeling (FDM) are widely adopted for 3D printing applications. This method consists of the heating of polymeric filaments over the melting point followed by their deposition onto a solid base to create the desirable 3D structure. Prior investigation using chromatographic techniques has shown that chemical compounds (e.g. VOCs), which can be harmful to users, are emitted during the printing process, producing adverse effects to human health and contributing to indoor air pollution. In this study, we present a simple, inexpensive and disposable paperbased optoelectronic nose (i.e. colorimetric sensor array) to identify the gaseous emission fingerprint of five different types of thermoplastic filaments (ABS, TPU, PETG, TRITAN and PLA) in the indoor environment. The optoelectronic nose is comprised of selected 15 dyes with different chemical properties deposited onto a microfluidic paper-based device with spots of 5 mm in diameter each. Digital images were obtained from an ordinary flatbed scanner, and the RGB information collected before and after air exposure was extracted by using an automated routine designed in MATLAB, in which the color changes provide a unique fingerprint for each filament in 5 min of printing. Reproducibility was obtained in the range of 2.5-10% (RSD). Hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) and principal component analysis (PCA) were successfully employed, showing suitable discrimination of all studied filaments and the non-polluted air. Besides, air spiked with vapors of the most representative VOCs were analyzed by the optoelectronic nose and visually compared to each filament. The described study shows the potential of the paper-based optoelectronic nose to monitor possible hazard emissions from 3D printers. (C) 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Keywords: 3d printing, colorimetric sensor array, indoor air pollution, optoelectronic nose, paper-based, 3d printing, Colorimetric sensor array, Emissions, Indoor air pollution, Optoelectronic nose, Paper-based, Thermoplastic filaments


Moya-Anderico, L, Vukomanovic, M, Cendra, MD, Segura-Feliu, M, Gil, V, del Rio, JA, Torrents, E, (2021). The application of FTO-Cu2O/Ag3PO4 heterojunction in the photoelectrochemical degradation of emerging pharmaceutical pollutant under visible light irradiation Chemosphere 266, 129231

We report the photoelectrochemical application of a visible light active FTO-Cu2O/Ag3PO4 photoanode for the abatement of sulfamethoxazole in water. The as-synthesised photoanodes were characterised using XRD, field emission SEM, EDX, diffuse reflectance UV-vis, impedance spectroscopy and chronoamperometry. The results obtained confirmed a successful formation of p-n heterojunction at the Cu2O/Ag3PO4 interface. The highest photocurrent response of 0.62 mAcm(-2) was obtained for the composite photoanode which was four times higher than pure Cu2O and about three times higher than pristine Ag3PO4. The photoanode gave 67% removal efficiency within 2 h upon its photoelectrochemical application in the degradation of sulfamethoxazole with 1.5 V bias potential at pH 6.2. The FTO-Cu2O/Ag3PO4 electrode was also applied in the treatment of a cocktail of synthetic organics containing sulfamethoxazole and orange II dye. The photogenerated holes was found to be the major oxidant and the photoanodes was stable and reusable. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: copper(i) oxide, photoanode, photoelectrochemical degradation, silver phosphate, sulfamethoxazole, Construction, Copper(i) oxide, Enhanced photocatalytic activity, Fabrication, Facile synthesis, Intermediate products, Organic pollutants, P-n heterojunctions, Performance, Photoanode, Photoelectrocatalytic degradation, Photoelectrochemical degradation, Semiconductor, Silver phosphate, Sulfamethoxazole


Slor G, Olea AR, Pujals S, Tigrine A, De La Rosa VR, Hoogenboom R, Albertazzi L, Amir RJ, (2021). Judging Enzyme-Responsive Micelles by Their Covers: Direct Comparison of Dendritic Amphiphiles with Different Hydrophilic Blocks BIOMACROMOLECULES 22, 1197-1210

© 2021 American Chemical Society. Enzymatically degradable polymeric micelles have great potential as drug delivery systems, allowing the selective release of their active cargo at the site of disease. Furthermore, enzymatic degradation of the polymeric nanocarriers facilitates clearance of the delivery system after it has completed its task. While extensive research is dedicated toward the design and study of the enzymatically degradable hydrophobic block, there is limited understanding on how the hydrophilic shell of the micelle can affect the properties of such enzymatically degradable micelles. In this work, we report a systematic head-To-head comparison of well-defined polymeric micelles with different polymeric shells and two types of enzymatically degradable hydrophobic cores. To carry out this direct comparison, we developed a highly modular approach for preparing clickable, spectrally active enzyme-responsive dendrons with adjustable degree of hydrophobicity. The dendrons were linked with three different widely used hydrophilic polymers-poly(ethylene glycol), poly(2-ethyl-2-oxazoline), and poly(acrylic acid) using the CuAAC click reaction. The high modularity and molecular precision of the synthetic methodology enabled us to easily prepare well-defined amphiphiles that differ either in their hydrophilic block composition or in their hydrophobic dendron. The micelles of the different amphiphiles were thoroughly characterized and their sizes, critical micelle concentrations, drug loading, stability, and cell internalization were compared. We found that the micelle diameter was almost solely dependent on the hydrophobicity of the dendritic hydrophobic block, whereas the enzymatic degradation rate was strongly dependent on the composition of both blocks. Drug encapsulation capacity was very sensitive to the type of the hydrophilic block, indicating that, in addition to the hydrophobic core, the micellar shell also has a significant role in drug encapsulation. Incubation of the spectrally active micelles in the presence of cells showed that the hydrophilic shell significantly affects the micellar stability, localization, cell internalization kinetics, and the cargo release mechanism. Overall, the high molecular precision and the ability of these amphiphiles to report their disassembly, even in complex biological media, allowed us to directly compare the different types of micelles, providing striking insights into how the composition of the micelle shells and cores can affect their properties and potential to serve as nanocarriers.


Abdelrahman F, Easwaran M, Daramola OI, Ragab S, Lynch S, Oduselu TJ, Khan FM, Ayobami A, Adnan F, Torrents E, Sanmukh S, El-Shibiny A, (2021). Phage-encoded endolysins Antibiotics 10, 1-31

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Due to the global emergence of antibiotic resistance, there has been an increase in research surrounding endolysins as an alternative therapeutic. Endolysins are phage-encoded enzymes, utilized by mature phage virions to hydrolyze the cell wall from within. There is significant evidence that proves the ability of endolysins to degrade the peptidoglycan externally without the assistance of phage. Thus, their incorporation in therapeutic strategies has opened new options for therapeutic application against bacterial infections in the human and veterinary sectors, as well as within the agricultural and biotechnology sectors. While endolysins show promising results within the laboratory, it is important to document their resistance, safety, and immunogenicity for in-vivo application. This review aims to provide new insights into the synergy between endolysins and antibiotics, as well as the formulation of endolysins. Thus, it provides crucial information for clinical trials involving endolysins.

Keywords: antibiotic resistance, bacteriophages, Antibiotic resistance, Bacteriophages, Endolysin


Pla L, Berdún S, Mir M, Rivas L, Miserere S, Dulay S, Samitier J, Eixarch E, Illa M, Gratacós E, (2021). Non-invasive monitoring of pH and oxygen using miniaturized electrochemical sensors in an animal model of acute hypoxia Journal Of Translational Medicine 19,

© 2021, The Author(s). Background: One of the most prevalent causes of fetal hypoxia leading to stillbirth is placental insufficiency. Hemodynamic changes evaluated with Doppler ultrasound have been used as a surrogate marker of fetal hypoxia. However, Doppler evaluation cannot be performed continuously. As a first step, the present work aimed to evaluate the performance of miniaturized electrochemical sensors in the continuous monitoring of oxygen and pH changes in a model of acute hypoxia-acidosis. Methods: pH and oxygen electrochemical sensors were evaluated in a ventilatory hypoxia rabbit model. The ventilator hypoxia protocol included 3 differential phases: basal (100% FiO2), the hypoxia-acidosis period (10% FiO2) and recovery (100% FiO2). Sensors were tested in blood tissue (ex vivo sensing) and in muscular tissue (in vivo sensing). pH electrochemical and oxygen sensors were evaluated on the day of insertion (short-term evaluation) and pH electrochemical sensors were also tested after 5 days of insertion (long-term evaluation). pH and oxygen sensing were registered throughout the ventilatory hypoxia protocol (basal, hypoxia-acidosis, and recovery) and were compared with blood gas metabolites results from carotid artery catheterization (obtained with the EPOC blood analyzer). Finally, histological assessment was performed on the sensor insertion site. One-way ANOVA was used for the analysis of the evolution of acid-based metabolites and electrochemical sensor signaling results; a t-test was used for pre- and post-calibration analyses; and chi-square analyses for categorical variables. Results: At the short-term evaluation, both the pH and oxygen electrochemical sensors distinguished the basal and hypoxia-acidosis periods in both the in vivo and ex vivo sensing. However, only the ex vivo sensing detected the recovery period. In the long-term evaluation, the pH electrochemical sensor signal seemed to lose sensibility. Finally, histological assessment revealed no signs of alteration on the day of evaluation (short-term), whereas in the long-term evaluation a sub-acute inflammatory reaction adjacent to the implantation site was detected. Conclusions: Miniaturized electrochemical sensors represent a new generation of tools for the continuous monitoring of hypoxia-acidosis, which is especially indicated in high-risk pregnancies. Further studies including more tissue-compatible material would be required in order to improve long-term electrochemical sensing.

Keywords: acute hypoxia-acidosis, continuous monitoring of acid-base status, continuous monitoring of acid–base status, electrochemical sensors, high-risk pregnancies, Acute hypoxia-acidosis, Continuous monitoring of acid–base status, Electrochemical sensors, High-risk pregnancies


Romero D, Jane R, (2021). Global and Transient Effects of Intermittent Hypoxia on Heart Rate Variability Markers: Evaluation using an Obstructive Sleep Apnea Model IEEE Access 9, 19043-19052

CCBY Intermittent hypoxia (IH) produces autonomic dysfunction that promotes the development of arrhythmia and hypertension in patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This paper investigated different heart rate variability (HRV) indices in the context of IH using a rat model for OSA. Linear and non-linear HRV parameters were assessed from ultra-short (15-s segments) and short-term (5 min) analyses of heartbeat time-series. Transient changes observed from pre-apnea segments to hypoxia episodes were evaluated, besides the relative and global impact of IH, as a function of its severity. Results showed an overall increase in ultra-short HRV markers as immediate response to hypoxia: standard deviation of normal RR intervals, SDNN=1.2 ms (IQR: 1.1-2.1) vs 1.4 ms (IQR: 1.2-2.2), p=0.015; root mean square of the successive differences, RMSSD=1.7 ms (IQR: 1.5-2.2) vs 1.9 ms (IQR: 1.6-2.4), p=0.031. The power in the very low frequency (VLF) band also showed a significant increase: 0.09 ms2 (IQR: 0.05-0.20) vs 0.16 ms2 (IQR: 0.12-0.23), p=0.016, probably associated with the potentiation of the carotid body chemo-sensory response to hypoxia. Moreover, a clear link between severity of IH and short-term HRV measures was found in VLF and LF power, besides their progressive increase seen throughout the experiment after each apnea sequence. However, only those markers quantifying fragmentation levels in RR series were significantly affected when the experiment ended, as compared to baseline measures: percentage of inflection points, PIP=49% (IQR: 45-51) vs 53% (IQR: 47-53), p=0.031; percentage of short (≥3 RR intervals) accelerated/decelerated segments, PSS=75% (IQR: 51-81) vs 87% (IQR: 51-90), p=0.046. These findings suggest a significant deterioration of cardiac rhythm with a more erratic behavior beyond the normal sinus arrhythmia, that may lead to a future cardiac condition.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, atmospheric modeling, electrocardiography, heart rate variability, hypoxia rat model, intermittent hypoxia, obstructive apneas, protocols, radio access technologies, Artificial intelligence, Atmospheric modeling, Electrocardiography, Heart rate variability, Hypoxia rat model, Intermittent hypoxia, Obstructive apneas, Protocols, Radio access technologies, Rats


de la Serna E, Arias-Alpízar K, Borgheti-Cardoso LN, Sanchez-Cano A, Sulleiro E, Zarzuela F, Bosch-Nicolau P, Salvador F, Molina I, Ramírez M, Fernàndez-Busquets X, Sánchez-Montalvá A, Baldrich E, (2021). Detection of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1 h using a simplified enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ANALYTICA CHIMICA ACTA 1152

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. Malaria is a parasitic disease caused by protists of the genus Plasmodium, which are transmitted to humans through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes. Analytical methodologies and efficient drugs exist for the early detection and treatment of malaria, and yet this disease continues infecting millions of people and claiming several hundred thousand lives each year. One of the reasons behind this failure to control the disease is that the standard method for malaria diagnosis, microscopy, is time-consuming and requires trained personnel. Alternatively, rapid diagnostic tests, which have become common for point-of-care testing thanks to their simplicity of use, tend to be insufficiently sensitive and reliable, and PCR, which is sensitive, is too complex and expensive for massive population screening. In this work, we report a sensitive simplified ELISA for the quantitation of Plasmodium falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (Pf-LDH), which is capable of detecting malaria in 45–60 min. Assay development was founded in the selection of high-performance antibodies, implementation of a poly-horseradish peroxidase (polyHRP) signal amplifier, and optimization of whole-blood sample pre-treatment. The simplified ELISA achieved limits of detection (LOD) and quantification (LOQ) of 0.11 ng mL−1 and 0.37 ng mL−1, respectively, in lysed whole blood, and an LOD comparable to that of PCR in Plasmodium in vitro cultures (0.67 and 1.33 parasites μL−1 for ELISA and PCR, respectively). Accordingly, the developed immunoassay represents a simple and effective diagnostic tool for P. falciparum malaria, with a time-to-result of <60 min and sensitivity similar to the reference PCR, but easier to implement in low-resource settings.

Keywords: malaria quantitative diagnosis, plasmodium culture, plasmodium ldh, polyhrp signal amplifier, simplified elisa, Malaria quantitative diagnosis, Plasmodium culture, Plasmodium ldh, Polyhrp signal amplifier, Simplified elisa


Martin-Gómez H, Oliver-Cervelló L, Sánchez-Campillo I, Marchán V, Ginebra MP, Mas-Moruno C, (2021). A versatile click chemistry-based approach for functionalizing biomaterials of diverse nature with bioactive peptides CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS 57, 982-985

© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2021. A novel and versatile toolkit approach for the functionalization of biomaterials of different nature is described. This methodology is based on the solid-phase conjugation of specific anchoring units onto a resin-bound azido-functionalized peptide by using click chemistry. A synergistic multifunctional peptidic scaffold with cell adhesive properties was used as a model compound to showcase the versatility of this new approach. Titanium, gold and polylactic acid surfaces were biofunctionalized by this method, as validated by physicochemical surface characterization with XPS.In vitroassays using mesenchymal stem cells showed enhanced cell adhesion on the functionalized samples, proving the capacity of this strategy to efficiently bioactivate different types of biomaterials.


Winkler PM, Campelo F, Giannotti MI, Garcia-Parajo MF, (2021). Impact of Glycans on Lipid Membrane Dynamics at the Nanoscale Unveiled by Planar Plasmonic Nanogap Antennas and Atomic Force Spectroscopy Journal Of Physical Chemistry Letters 12, 1175-1181

© 2021 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. Lateral compartmentalization of the plasma membrane is a prominent feature present at multiple spatiotemporal scales that regulates key cellular functions. The extracellular glycocalyx matrix has recently emerged as an important player that modulates the organization of specific receptors and patterns the lipid bilayer itself. However, experimental limitations in investigating its impact on the membrane nanoscale dynamics have hampered detailed studies. Here, we used photonic nanoantenna arrays combined with fluorescence correlation spectroscopy to investigate the influence of hyaluronic acid (HA), a prominent glycosaminoglycan, on the nanoscale organization of mimetic lipid bilayers. Using atomic force microscopy and force spectroscopy, we further correlated our dynamic measurements with the morphology and mechanical properties of bilayers at the nanoscale. Overall, we find that HA has a profound effect on the dynamics, nanoscale organization, and mechanical properties of lipid bilayers that are enriched in sphingolipids and/or cholesterol, such as those present in living cells.


Consegal M, Valls-Lacalle L, Rodríguez-Sinovas A, (2021). Angiotensin II-induced cardiomyocyte hypertrophy: A complex response dependent on intertwined pathways Revista Portuguesa De Cardiologia 40, 201-203

Hodásová L, Sans J, Molina BG, Alemán C, Llanes L, Fargas G, Armelin E, (2021). Polymer infiltrated ceramic networks with biocompatible adhesive and 3D-printed highly porous scaffolds Additive Manufacturing 39

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. Herein, for the first time is described the design of a novel porous zirconia scaffolds manufactured by using polymer-infiltrated ceramic network (PICN) and 3D-printing technologies. Cubic geometry of pieces was obtained by perpendicular layer-by-layer deposition of yttrium-stabilized tetragonal zirconia polycrystal (3Y-TZP) and Pluronic® hydrogel ceramic paste. The specimens were prepared by robocasting assembly with 50% infill and 50% of pores, as feed setup. Bisphenol A glycerolate dimethacrylate (Bis-GMA) and tri(ethylenglycol) dimethacrylate (TEGDMA) copolymer, a well-known biocompatible adhesive, which is widely used in dentistry field, was employed to reinforce the pores of the 3D-printed ceramic structure. The success of the acrylate polymer infiltration above the scaffold surface and among the 3Y-TZP filaments was achieved through previous ceramic functionalization with 3-(trimethoxysilyl)propyl methacrylate (γ-MPS). The well infiltration of the material on pores was evaluated by gravimetry, obtaining a value of 87.5 ± 6.6% of pores covered by the adhesive. Such successful infiltration of methacrylate copolymer had also a positive effect on the mechanical properties of the scaffold material, being the PICN sample that one with the highest elongation resistance. The new system showed reduced bacteria proliferation, over 24 h of incubation with Gram-negative Escherichia coli and Gram-positive Streptococcus salivarius bacteria lines, when compared to the control.

Keywords: acrylate polymer, bacteria colonization, yttrium stabilized zirconia, Acrylate polymer, Bacteria colonization, Robocasting, Yttrium stabilized zirconia


Mestre R, Patiño T, Sánchez S, (2021). Biohybrid robotics: From the nanoscale to the macroscale Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews-Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology 13

© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC. Biohybrid robotics is a field in which biological entities are combined with artificial materials in order to obtain improved performance or features that are difficult to mimic with hand-made materials. Three main level of integration can be envisioned depending on the complexity of the biological entity, ranging from the nanoscale to the macroscale. At the nanoscale, enzymes that catalyze biocompatible reactions can be used as power sources for self-propelled nanoparticles of different geometries and compositions, obtaining rather interesting active matter systems that acquire importance in the biomedical field as drug delivery systems. At the microscale, single enzymes are substituted by complete cells, such as bacteria or spermatozoa, whose self-propelling capabilities can be used to transport cargo and can also be used as drug delivery systems, for in vitro fertilization practices or for biofilm removal. Finally, at the macroscale, the combinations of millions of cells forming tissues can be used to power biorobotic devices or bioactuators by using muscle cells. Both cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue have been part of remarkable examples of untethered biorobots that can crawl or swim due to the contractions of the tissue and current developments aim at the integration of several types of tissue to obtain more realistic biomimetic devices, which could lead to the next generation of hybrid robotics. Tethered bioactuators, however, result in excellent candidates for tissue models for drug screening purposes or the study of muscle myopathies due to their three-dimensional architecture. This article is categorized under: Therapeutic Approaches and Drug Discovery > Emerging Technologies Nanotechnology Approaches to Biology > Nanoscale Systems in Biology.

Keywords: bacteria-bots, based biorobots, biorobots, bots, enzymatic nanomotors, hybrid robotics, muscle‐, Bacteria‐, Bacteria-bots, Biorobots, Enzymatic nanomotors, Hybrid robotics, Muscle-based biorobots


Sans J, Sanz V, Puiggalí J, Turon P, Alemán C, (2021). Controlled Anisotropic Growth of Hydroxyapatite by Additive-Free Hydrothermal Synthesis CRYSTAL GROWTH & DESIGN 21, 748-756

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The synthesis of hydroxyapatite (HAp) with different shapes and sizes has attracted increasing attention because the applicability of this ceramic material depends on structure-properties relationships (i.e., the dimensions and morphology of HAp crystals determine properties such as the bioactivity and mechanical strength). Although different synthetic routes based on the addition of surfactants, organic modifiers, or dispersants have been proposed to control the growth of HAp crystals, many efforts are being devoted to simplify the whole process using simple parameters such as pH. However, the control of the morphology is still poor and shows low reproducibility. In this work, a new additive-free synthetic route, which is based on the hydrothermal method and the utilization of nonaqueous solvents, is proposed. The influence of the synthesis parameters such as pH, concentration of starting solutions, and the solvent on relevant features such as phase purity, crystallinity, crystallite size, and morphology has been examined using spectroscopic techniques, X-ray diffraction, and scanning electron microscopy. As a consequence, this work presents an easy and robust method based only on the use of organic solvent and the control of the pH that produces pure and crystalline HAp with a controlled shape and size. This method has been used to elucidate some of the key aspects of the crystal growth mechanism and to synthesize HAp crystals with different and well-defined shapes (e.g., belts, rods, flakes needle-like, or polymorph) and sizes, in a reproducible way.

Keywords: biomaterial, bone, crystals, ethanol, size, solubility, Morphology


Biosca A, Cabanach P, Abdulkarim M, Gumbleton M, Gómez-Canela C, Ramírez M, Bouzón-Arnáiz I, Avalos-Padilla Y, Borros S, Fernàndez-Busquets X, (2021). Zwitterionic self-assembled nanoparticles as carriers for Plasmodium targeting in malaria oral treatment Journal of Controlled Release 331, 364-375

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. The current decline in antimalarial drug efficacy due to the evolution of resistant Plasmodium strains calls for new strategies capable of improving the bioavailability of antimalarials, especially of those whose lipophilic character imparts them a low solubility in biological fluids. Here we have designed, synthesized and characterized amphiphilic zwitterionic block copolymers forming nanoparticles capable of penetrating the intestinal epithelium that can be used for oral administration. Poly(butyl methacrylate-co-morpholinoethyl sulfobetaine methacrylate) (PBMA-MESBMA)-based nanoparticles exhibited a specific targeting to Plasmodium falciparum-infected vs. parasite-free red blood cells (74.8%/0.8% respectively), which was maintained upon encapsulation of the lipophilic antimalarial drug curcumin (82.6%/0.3%). The in vitro efficacy of curcumin upon encapsulation was maintained relative to the free compound, with an IC50 around 5 μM. In vivo assays indicated a significantly increased curcumin concentration in the blood of mice one hour after being orally fed PBMA-MESBMA-curcumin in comparison to the administration of free drug (18.7 vs. 2.1 ng/ml, respectively). At longer times, however, plasma curcumin concentration equaled between free and encapsulated drug, which was reflected in similar in vivo antimalarial activities in Plasmodium yoelii yoelii-infected mice. Microscopic analysis in blood samples of fluorescently labeled PBMA-MESBMA revealed the presence of the polymer inside P. yoelii yoelii-parasitized erythrocytes one hour after oral administration to infected animals.

Keywords: curcumin, drug delivery, malaria, pbma-mesbma, plasmodium, zwitterionic block copolymers, Curcumin, Drug delivery, Malaria, Pbma-mesbma, Plasmodium, Zwitterionic block copolymers


Marrugo-Ramírez J, Rodríguez-Núñez M, Marco MP, Mir M, Samitier J, (2021). Kynurenic Acid Electrochemical Immunosensor: Blood-Based Diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease Biosensors 11,

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by a functional deterioration of the brain. Currently, there are selected biomarkers for its diagnosis in cerebrospinal fluid. However, its extraction has several disadvantages for the patient. Therefore, there is an urgent need for a detection method using sensitive and selective blood-based biomarkers. Kynurenic acid (KYNA) is a potential biomarker candidate for this purpose. The alteration of the KYNA levels in blood has been related with inflammatory processes in the brain, produced as a protective function when neurons are damaged. This paper describes a novel electrochemical immunosensor for KYNA detection, based on successive functionalization multi-electrode array. The resultant sensor was characterized by cyclic voltammetry (CV), chronoamperometry (CA), and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS). The proposed biosensor detects KYNA within a linear calibration range from 10 pM to 100 nM using CA and EIS, obtaining a limit of detection (LOD) of 16.9 pM and 37.6 pM in buffer, respectively, being the lowest reported LOD for this biomarker. Moreover, to assess our device closer to the real application, the developed immunosensor was also tested under human serum matrix, obtaining an LOD of 391.71 pM for CA and 278.8 pM for EIS with diluted serum.

Keywords: alzheimer’s disease (ad), blood analysis, chronoamperometry (ca), electrochemical biosensor, electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (eis), immunosensor, in vitro diagnosis (ivd), kynurenic acid (kyna), Alzheimer’s disease (ad), Blood analysis, Chronoamperometry (ca), Electrochemical biosensor, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (eis), Immunosensor, In vitro diagnosis (ivd), Kynurenic acid (kyna), Point of care diagnosis (poc)


Maleeva G, Nin-Hill A, Rustler K, Petukhova E, Ponomareva D, Mukhametova E, Gomila AM, Wutz D, Alfonso-Prieto M, König B, Gorostiza P, Bregestovski P, (2021). Subunit-specific photocontrol of glycine receptors by azobenzene-nitrazepam photoswitcher ENEURO 8, 1-17

© 2021 Maleeva et al. Photopharmacology is a unique approach that through a combination of photochemistry methods and advanced life science techniques allows the study and control of specific biological processes, ranging from intracellular pathways to brain circuits. Recently, a first photochromic channel blocker of anion-selective GABAA receptors, the azobenzene-nitrazepam-based photochromic compound (Azo-NZ1), has been described. In the present study, using patch-clamp technique in heterologous system and in mice brain slices, site-directed mutagenesis and molecular modeling we provide evidence of the interaction of Azo-NZ1 with glycine receptors (GlyRs) and determine the molecular basis of this interaction. Glycinergic synaptic neurotransmission determines an important inhibitory drive in the vertebrate nervous system and plays a crucial role in the control of neuronal circuits in the spinal cord and brain stem. GlyRs are involved in locomotion, pain sensation, breathing, and auditory function, as well as in the development of such disorders as hyperekplexia, epilepsy, and autism. Here, we demonstrate that Azo-NZ1 blocks in a UV-dependent manner the activity of a2 GlyRs (GlyR2), while being barely active on a1 GlyRs (GlyR1). The site of Azo-NZ1 action is in the chloride-selective pore of GlyR at the 2’ position of transmembrane helix 2 and amino acids forming this site determine the difference in Azo-NZ1 blocking activity between GlyR2 and GlyR1. This subunit-specific modulation is also shown on motoneurons of brainstem slices from neonatal mice that switch during development from expressing “fetal” GlyR2 to “adult” GlyR1 receptors.

Keywords: brain slices, glycine receptors, hypoglossal motoneurons, molecular modelling, patch-clamp, photopharmacology, Brain slices, Glycine receptors, Hypoglossal motoneurons, Molecular modelling, Patch-clamp, Photopharmacology


Solé-Martí X, Espona-Noguera A, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Plasma-conditioned liquids as anticancer therapies In Vivo: Current state and future directions Cancers 13, 1-17

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. During the last decade, cold atmospheric plasmas (CAP) have been broadly investigated for their therapeutic effect against cancer. CAP sources can be used to treat liquid media, thereby generating plasma-conditioned liquids (PCL). PCL represent a very interesting alternative to direct CAP treatment, because they may allow treatment of malignant tumors located in inner organs of the body by means of an injection, thus avoiding multiple surgeries. Although research on this therapy is still in its early stage, PCL have already demonstrated their potential anticancer effect in different types of cancer in vivo. This review gathers the existing literature involving PCL treatments in vivo, highlighting the differences between the approaches undertaken and the need for establishing standardized protocols in order to better understand the effects of PCL-based therapies in vivo. Plasma-conditioned liquids (PCL) are gaining increasing attention in the medical field, especially in oncology, and translation to the clinics is advancing on a good path. This emerging technology involving cold plasmas has great potential as a therapeutic approach in cancer diseases, as PCL have been shown to selectively kill cancer cells by triggering apoptotic mechanisms without damaging healthy cells. In this context, PCL can be injected near the tumor or intratumorally, thereby allowing the treatment of malignant tumors located in internal organs that are not accessible for direct cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) treatment. Therefore, PCL constitutes a very interesting and minimally invasive alternative to direct CAP treatment in cancer therapy, avoiding surgeries and allowing multiple local administrations. As the field advances, it is progressively moving to the evaluation of the therapeutic effects of PCL in in vivo scenarios. Exciting developments are pushing forward the clinical translation of this novel therapy. However, there is still room for research, as the quantification and identification of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) in in vivo conditions is not yet clarified, dosage regimens are highly variable among studies, and other more relevant in vivo models could be used. In this context, this work aims to present a critical review of the state of the field of PCL as anticancer agents applied in in vivo studies.

Keywords: cancer, cold atmospheric plasma, in vivo, Cancer, Cold atmospheric plasma, In vivo, Plasma-conditioned liquids


Dulay S, Rivas L, Miserere S, Pla L, Berdún S, Parra J, Eixarch E, Gratacós E, Illa M, Mir M, Samitier J, (2021). in vivo Monitoring with micro-implantable hypoxia sensor based on tissue acidosis Talanta 226

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. Hypoxia is a common medical problem, sometimes difficult to detect and caused by different situations. Control of hypoxia is of great medical importance and early detection is essential to prevent life threatening complications. However, the few current methods are invasive, expensive, and risky. Thus, the development of reliable and accurate sensors for the continuous monitoring of hypoxia is of vital importance for clinical monitoring. Herein, we report an implantable sensor to address these needs. The developed device is a low-cost, miniaturised implantable electrochemical sensor for monitoring hypoxia in tissue by means of pH detection. This technology is based on protonation/deprotonation of polypyrrole conductive polymer. The sensor was optimized in vitro and tested in vivo intramuscularly and ex vivo in blood in adult rabbits with respiration-induced hypoxia and correlated with the standard device ePOCTM. The sensor demonstrated excellent sensitivity and reproducibility; 46.4 ± 0.4 mV/pH in the pH range of 4–9 and the selectivity coefficient exhibited low interference activity in vitro. The device was linear (R2 = 0.925) with a low dispersion of the values (n = 11) with a cut-off of 7.1 for hypoxia in vivo and ex vivo. Statistics with one-way ANOVA (α = 0.05), shows statistical differences between hypoxia and normoxia states and the good performance of the pH sensor, which demonstrated good agreement with the standard device. The sensor was stable and functional after 18 months. The excellent results demonstrated the feasibility of the sensors in real-time monitoring of intramuscular tissue and blood for medical applications.

Keywords: biocompatibility, blood-flow, clinical monitoring, electrochemical biosensor, electrodes, hypoxia, implantable sensor, in vivo tissue monitoring, ischemia, lactate, ph, ph sensor, rabbits, responses, vitro, Clinical monitoring, Dual signal outputs, Hypoxia, Implantable sensor, In vivo tissue monitoring, Ischemia, Ph sensor


Badia M, Bolognesi B, (2021). Assembling the right type of switch: Protein condensation to signal cell death CURRENT OPINION IN CELL BIOLOGY 69, 55-61

© 2020 Elsevier Ltd Protein phase transitions are particularly amenable for cell signalling as these highly cooperative processes allow cells to make binary decisions in response to relatively small intracellular changes. The different processes of condensate formation and the distinct material properties of the resulting condensates provide a dictionary to modulate a range of decisions on cell fate. We argue that, on the one hand, the reversibility of liquid demixing offers a chance to arrest cell growth under specific circumstances. On the other hand, the transition to amyloids is better suited for terminal decisions such as those leading to apoptosis and necrosis. Here, we review recent examples of both scenarios, highlighting how mutations in signalling proteins affect the formation of biomolecular condensates with drastic effects on cell survival.

Keywords: amyloid, cell death, deep mutagenesis, llps, rna-binding proteins, Amyloid, Cell death, Deep mutagenesis, Llps, Rna-binding proteins


Tornín J, Villasante A, Solé-Martí X, Ginebra MP, Canal C, (2021). Osteosarcoma tissue-engineered model challenges oxidative stress therapy revealing promoted cancer stem cell properties FREE RADICAL BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE 164, 107-118

© 2020 The Author(s) The use of oxidative stress generated by Cold Atmospheric Plasma (CAP) in oncology is being recently studied as a novel potential anti-cancer therapy. However, the beneficial effects of CAP for treating osteosarcoma have mostly been demonstrated in 2-dimensional cultures of cells, which do not mimic the complexity of the 3-dimensional (3D) bone microenvironment. In order to evaluate the effects of CAP in a relevant context of the human disease, we developed a 3D tissue-engineered model of osteosarcoma using a bone-like scaffold made of collagen type I and hydroxyapatite nanoparticles. Human osteosarcoma cells cultured within the scaffold showed a high capacity to infiltrate and proliferate and to exhibit osteomimicry in vitro. As expected, we observed significantly different functional behaviors between monolayer and 3D cultures when treated with Cold Plasma-Activated Ringer's Solution (PAR). Our data reveal that the 3D environment not only protects cells from PAR-induced lethality by scavenging and diminishing the amount of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species generated by CAP, but also favours the stemness phenotype of osteosarcoma cells. This is the first study that demonstrates the negative effect of PAR on cancer stem-like cell subpopulations in a 3D biomimetic model of cancer. These findings will allow to suitably re-focus research on plasma-based therapies in future.

Keywords: 3d tumor model, cancer stem-like cells, cold atmospheric plasma, osteosarcoma, oxidative stress, plasma activated liquids, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, 3d tumor model, Cancer stem-like cells, Cold atmospheric plasma, Osteosarcoma, Oxidative stress, Plasma activated liquids, Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species


Blanco-Fernandez B, Cano-Torres I, Garrido C, Rubi-Sans G, Sanchez-Cid L, Guerra-Rebollo M, Rubio N, Blanco J, Perez-Amodio S, Mateos-Timoneda MA, Engel E, (2021). Engineered microtissues for the bystander therapy against cancer Materials Science & Engineering C-Materials for Biological Applications 121,

© 2021 Elsevier B.V. Thymidine kinase expressing human adipose mesenchymal stem cells (TK-hAMSCs) in combination with ganciclovir (GCV) are an effective platform for antitumor bystander therapy in mice models. However, this strategy requires multiple TK-hAMSCs administrations and a substantial number of cells. Therefore, for clinical translation, it is necessary to find a biocompatible scaffold providing TK-hAMSCs retention in the implantation site against their rapid wash-out. We have developed a microtissue (MT) composed by TKhAMSCs and a scaffold made of polylactic acid microparticles and cell-derived extracellular matrix deposited by hAMSCs. The efficacy of these MTs as vehicles for TK-hAMSCs/GCV bystander therapy was evaluated in a rodent model of human prostate cancer. Subcutaneously implanted MTs were integrated in the surrounding tissue, allowing neovascularization and maintenance of TK-hAMSCs viability. Furthermore, MTs implanted beside tumors allowed TK-hAMSCs migration towards tumor cells and, after GCV administration, inhibited tumor growth. These results indicate that TK-hAMSCs-MTs are promising cell reservoirs for clinical use of therapeutic MSCs in bystander therapies.

Keywords: adipose mesenchymal stem cells, bioluminescence, bystander therapy, cancer, Adipose mesenchymal stem cells, Bioluminescence, Bystander therapy, Cancer, Self-assembled cell-based microtissues


Puiggalí-Jou A, Ordoño J, del Valle LJ, Pérez-Amodio S, Engel E, Alemán C, (2021). Tuning multilayered polymeric self-standing films for controlled release of L-lactate by electrical stimulation Journal Of Controlled Release 330, 669-683

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. We examine different approaches for the controlled release of L-lactate, which is a signaling molecule that participates in tissue remodeling and regeneration, such as cardiac and muscle tissue. Robust, flexible, and self-supported 3-layers films made of two spin-coated poly(lactic acid) (PLA) layers separated by an electropolymerized poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) layer, are used as loading and delivery systems. Films with outer layers prepared using homochiral PLA and with nanoperforations of diameter 146 ± 70 experience more bulk erosion, which also contributes to the release of L-lactic acid, than those obtained using heterochiral PLA and with nanoperforations of diameter 66 ± 24. Moreover, the release of L-lactic acid as degradation product is accelerated by applying biphasic electrical pulses. The four approaches used for loading extra L-lactate in the 3-layered films were: incorporation of L-lactate at the intermediate PEDOT layer as primary dopant agent using (1) organic or (2) basic water solutions as reaction media; (3) substitution at the PEDOT layer of the ClO4− dopant by L-lactate using de-doping and re-doping processes; and (4) loading of L-lactate at the outer PLA layers during the spin-coating process. Electrical stimuli were applied considering biphasic voltage pulses and constant voltages (both negative and positive). Results indicate that the approach used to load the L-lactate has a very significant influence in the release regulation process, affecting the concentration of released L-lactate up to two orders of magnitude. Among the tested approaches, the one based on the utilization of the outer layers for loading, approach (4), can be proposed for situations requiring prolonged and sustained L-lactate release over time. The biocompatibility and suitability of the engineered films for cardiac tissue engineering has also been confirmed using cardiac cells.

Keywords: biphasic voltage pulse, cardiac tissue regeneration, cardiomyocytes proliferation, conducting polymer, nanoperforated films, sustained delivery, Biphasic voltage pulse, Cardiac tissue regeneration, Cardiomyocytes proliferation, Conducting polymer, Nanoperforated films, Sustained delivery


Andrian T, Riera R, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Nanoscopy for endosomal escape quantification Nanoscale Advances 3, 10-23

© The Royal Society of Chemistry. The successful cytosolic delivery of nanoparticles is hampered by their endosomal entrapment and degradation. To push forward the smart development of nanoparticles we must reliably detect and quantify their endosomal escape process. However, the current methods employed are not quantitative enough at the nanoscale to achieve this. Nanoscopy is a rapidly evolving field that has developed a diverse set of powerful techniques in the last two decades, opening the door to explore nanomedicine with an unprecedented resolution and specificity. The understanding of key steps in the drug delivery process-such as endosomal escape-would benefit greatly from the implementation of the most recent advances in microscopy. In this review, we provide the latest insights into endosomal escape of nanoparticles obtained by nanoscopy, and we discuss the features that would allow these techniques to make a great impact in the field.


De Goede M, Dijkstra M, Chang L, Acharyya N, Kozyreff G, Obregón R, Martínez E, García-Blanco SM, (2021). Mode-splitting in a microring resonator for self-referenced biosensing Optics Express 29, 346-358

© 2020 Optical Society of America under the terms of the OSA Open Access Publishing Agreement. Self-referenced biosensing based on mode-splitting on a microring resonator is experimentally demonstrated. A Bragg grating integrated on the surface of the ring provides coupling between the clockwise and counterclockwise travelling modes of the pristine ring resonator lifting their degeneracy. The amount of mode-splitting is directly related to the reflectivity of the grating and it is only affected by structurally modifying the grating. Environmental perturbations to the surroundings of the gratings, such as temperature and bulk refractive index variations, have a minor effect on the amount of mode-splitting. This principle allows the realization of a self-referenced sensing scheme based on the detection of variations of the mode-splitting induced by structural changes to the grating. In this work, a polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) Bragg grating is integrated onto a ring resonator in Al2O3. It is shown both theoretically and experimentally that the amount of splitting of a resonance varies minimally under temperature or bulk refractive index perturbations. However, the structural change of attaching a layer of biomolecules inside the grating does affect its reflectivity and the amount of mode splitting present. This result represents the first proof-of-concept demonstration of an integrated mode-splitting biosensor insensitive to temperature and refractive index variations of the liquid matrix where the molecules to be detected are embedded. The reported results pave the road towards the realization of truly self-referenced biosensors.


Feiner-Gracia N, Glinkowska Mares A, Buzhor M, Rodriguez-Trujillo R, Samitier Marti J, Amir RJ, Pujals S, Albertazzi L, (2021). Real-Time Ratiometric Imaging of Micelles Assembly State in a Microfluidic Cancer-on-a-Chip Acs Applied Bio Materials 4, 669-681

© 2020 American Chemical Society. The performance of supramolecular nanocarriers as drug delivery systems depends on their stability in the complex and dynamic biological media. After administration, nanocarriers are challenged by physiological barriers such as shear stress and proteins present in blood, endothelial wall, extracellular matrix, and eventually cancer cell membrane. While early disassembly will result in a premature drug release, extreme stability of the nanocarriers can lead to poor drug release and low efficiency. Therefore, comprehensive understanding of the stability and assembly state of supramolecular carriers in each stage of delivery is the key factor for the rational design of these systems. One of the main challenges is that current 2D in vitro models do not provide exhaustive information, as they fail to recapitulate the 3D tumor microenvironment. This deficiency in the 2D model complexity is the main reason for the differences observed in vivo when testing the performance of supramolecular nanocarriers. Herein, we present a real-time monitoring study of self-assembled micelles stability and extravasation, combining spectral confocal microscopy and a microfluidic cancer-on-a-chip. The combination of advanced imaging and a reliable 3D model allows tracking of micelle disassembly by following the spectral properties of the amphiphiles in space and time during the crucial steps of drug delivery. The spectrally active micelles were introduced under flow and their position and conformation continuously followed by spectral imaging during the crossing of barriers, revealing the interplay between carrier structure, micellar stability, and extravasation. Integrating the ability of the micelles to change their fluorescent properties when disassembled, spectral confocal imaging and 3D microfluidic tumor blood vessel-on-a-chip resulted in the establishment of a robust testing platform suitable for real-time imaging and evaluation of supramolecular drug delivery carrier's stability.

Keywords: cancer-on-a-chip, complex, delivery, endothelial-cells, in-vitro, microfluidic, model, nanoparticle, penetration, shear-stress, stability, supramolecular, Cancer-on-a-chip, Cell-culture, Micelle, Microfluidic, Nanoparticle, Stability, Supramolecular


Blanco-Fernandez B, Gaspar VM, Engel E, Mano JF, (2021). Proteinaceous Hydrogels for Bioengineering Advanced 3D Tumor Models Advanced Science 8,

© 2020 The Authors. Advanced Science published by Wiley-VCH GmbH The establishment of tumor microenvironment using biomimetic in vitro models that recapitulate key tumor hallmarks including the tumor supporting extracellular matrix (ECM) is in high demand for accelerating the discovery and preclinical validation of more effective anticancer therapeutics. To date, ECM-mimetic hydrogels have been widely explored for 3D in vitro disease modeling owing to their bioactive properties that can be further adapted to the biochemical and biophysical properties of native tumors. Gathering on this momentum, herein the current landscape of intrinsically bioactive protein and peptide hydrogels that have been employed for 3D tumor modeling are discussed. Initially, the importance of recreating such microenvironment and the main considerations for generating ECM-mimetic 3D hydrogel in vitro tumor models are showcased. A comprehensive discussion focusing protein, peptide, or hybrid ECM-mimetic platforms employed for modeling cancer cells/stroma cross-talk and for the preclinical evaluation of candidate anticancer therapies is also provided. Further development of tumor-tunable, proteinaceous or peptide 3D microtesting platforms with microenvironment-specific biophysical and biomolecular cues will contribute to better mimic the in vivo scenario, and impr