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Blanco-Fernandez G, Blanco-Fernandez B, Fernández-Ferreiro A, Otero-Espinar F, (2022). Bringing lipidic lyotropic liquid crystal technology into biomedicine Trends In Pharmacological Sciences

Liquid crystals (LCs), discovered more than 130 years ago, are now emerging in the field of biomedicine. This article highlights the recent uses of lipid lyotropic LCs in therapeutics delivery, imaging, and tissue engineering and invites the scientific community to continue exploring the design of more complex LCs. © 2022 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords: Biomedicine, Drug delivery, Glycerol monooleate, Imaging, tissue engineering, Lyotropic liquid crystals


Clua-Ferré, Laura, Chiara, Francesco, Rodríguez-Comas, Júlia, Comelles, Jordi, Martinez, Elena, Godeau, Amelie Luise, García-Alamán, Ainhoa, Gasa, Rosa, Ramón-Azcón, Javier, (2022). Collagen-Tannic Acid Spheroids for beta-Cell Encapsulation Fabricated Using a 3D Bioprinter Advanced Materials Technologies , 2101696

Raymond, Yago, Johansson, Linh, Thorel, Emilie, Ginebra, Maria-Pau, (2022). Translation of three-dimensional printing of ceramics in bone tissue engineering and drug delivery Mrs Bulletin 47, 59-69

Kadkhodaie-Elyaderani A, de Lama-Odría MC, Rivas M, Martínez-Rovira I, Yousef I, Puiggalí J, Del Valle LJ, (2022). Medicated Scaffolds Prepared with Hydroxyapatite/Streptomycin Nanoparticles Encapsulated into Polylactide Microfibers International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23,

The preparation, characterization, and controlled release of hydroxyapatite (HAp) nanopar-ticles loaded with streptomycin (STR) was studied. These nanoparticles are highly appropriate for the treatment of bacterial infections and are also promising for the treatment of cancer cells. The analyses involved scanning electron microscopy, dynamic light scattering (DLS) and Z-potential measurements, as well as infrared spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction. Both amorphous (ACP) and crystalline (cHAp) hydroxyapatite nanoparticles were considered since they differ in their release behavior (faster and slower for amorphous and crystalline particles, respectively). The encapsulated nanoparticles were finally incorporated into biodegradable and biocompatible polylactide (PLA) scaf-folds. The STR load was carried out following different pathways during the synthesis/precipitation of the nanoparticles (i.e., nucleation steps) and also by simple adsorption once the nanoparticles were formed. The loaded nanoparticles were biocompatible according to the study of the cytotoxicity of extracts using different cell lines. FTIR microspectroscopy was also employed to evaluate the cytotoxic effect on cancer cell lines of nanoparticles internalized by endocytosis. The results were promising when amorphous nanoparticles were employed. The nanoparticles loaded with STR increased their size and changed their superficial negative charge to positive. The nanoparticles’ crystallinity decreased, with the consequence that their crystal sizes reduced, when STR was incorporated into their structure. STR maintained its antibacterial activity, although it was reduced during the adsorption into the nanoparticles formed. The STR release was faster from the amorphous ACP nanoparticles and slower from the crystalline cHAp nanoparticles. However, in both cases, the STR release was slower when incorporated in calcium and phosphate during the synthesis. The biocompatibility of these nanoparticles was assayed by two approximations. When extracts from the nanoparticles were evaluated in cultures of cell lines, no cytotoxic damage was observed at concen-trations of less than 10 mg/mL. This demonstrated their biocompatibility. Another experiment using FTIR microspectroscopy evaluated the cytotoxic effect of nanoparticles internalized by endocytosis in cancer cells. The results demonstrated slight damage to the biomacromolecules when the cells were treated with ACP nanoparticles. Both ACP and cHAp nanoparticles were efficiently encapsulated in PLA electrospun matrices, providing functionality and bioactive properties. © 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Keywords: antibiotics, antimicrobial activity, behavior, cytotoxicity, delivery, drug, drug delivery, hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, in-vitro, mechanisms, mitochondria, polylactide, release, streptomycin, Antimicrobial activity, Cancer stem-cells, Cytotoxicity, Drug delivery, Hydroxyapatite nanoparticles, Polylactide, Streptomycin


Macedo, MH, Barros, AS, Martinez, E, Barrias, CC, Sarmento, B, (2022). All layers matter: Innovative three-dimensional epithelium-stroma-endothelium intestinal model for reliable permeability outcomes Journal Of Controlled Release 341, 414-430

Drug development is an ever-growing field, increasingly requesting reliable in vitro tools to speed up early screening phases, reducing the need for animal experiments. In oral delivery, understanding the absorption pattern of a new drug in the small intestine is paramount. Classical two-dimensional (2D) in vitro models are generally too simplistic and do not accurately represent native tissues. The main goal of this work was to develop an advanced three-dimensional (3D) in vitro intestinal model to test absorption in a more reliable manner, by better mimicking the native environment. The 3D model is composed of a collagen-based stromal layer with embedded fibroblasts mimicking the intestinal lamina propria and providing support for the epithelium, composed of enterocytes and mucus-secreting cells. An endothelial layer, surrogating the absorptive capillary network, is also present. The cellular crosstalk between the different cells present in the model is unveiled, disclosing key players, namely those involved in the contraction of collagen by fibroblasts. The developed 3D model presents lower levels of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and Multidrug Resistance Protein 2 (MRP2) efflux transporters, which are normally overexpressed in traditional Caco-2 models, and are paramount in the absorption of many compounds. This, allied with transepithelial electrical resistance (TEER) values closer to physiological ranges, leads to improved and more reliable permeability outcomes, which are observed when comparing our results with in vivo data.

Keywords: 3d intestinal model, drug absorption, drug development, endothelium, hydrogel, 3d intestinal model, 3d modeling, 3d models, 3d-modeling, Alkaline-phosphatase, Animal experiments, Biopharmaceutics classification, Caco-2 cells, Cell culture, Collagen, Collagen gel, Drug absorption, Drug development, Endothelium, Fibroblasts, Glycoproteins, Hydrogel, In-vitro, Matrix metalloproteinases, Membrane-permeability, Paracellular transport, Permeability, Single-pass vs., Speed up


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


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


Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Almiñana-Rapún, Farners, Campo-Pérez, Víctor, Torrents, Eduard, Luquin, Marina, Julián, Esther, (2022). BCG Substrains Change Their Outermost Surface as a Function of Growth Media Vaccines 10, 40

Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) efficacy as an immunotherapy tool can be influenced by the genetic background or immune status of the treated population and by the BCG substrain used. BCG comprises several substrains with genetic differences that elicit diverse phenotypic characteristics. Moreover, modifications of phenotypic characteristics can be influenced by culture conditions. However, several culture media formulations are used worldwide to produce BCG. To elucidate the influence of growth conditions on BCG characteristics, five different substrains were grown on two culture media, and the lipidic profile and physico-chemical properties were evaluated. Our results show that each BCG substrain displays a variety of lipidic profiles on the outermost surface depending on the growth conditions. These modifications lead to a breadth of hydrophobicity patterns and a different ability to reduce neutral red dye within the same BCG substrain, suggesting the influence of BCG growth conditions on the interaction between BCG cells and host cells.

Keywords: cell wall, efficacy, glycerol, hydrophobicity, lipid, neutral red, pdim, pgl, protein, strains, viability, virulence, Acylglycerol, Albumin, Article, Asparagine, Bacterial cell wall, Bacterial gene, Bacterium culture, Bcg vaccine, Catalase, Cell wall, Chloroform, Controlled study, Escherichia coli, Gene expression, Genomic dna, Glycerol, Glycerol monomycolate, Hexadecane, Housekeeping gene, Hydrophobicity, Immune response, Immunogenicity, Immunotherapy, Lipid, Lipid fingerprinting, Magnesium sulfate, Mercaptoethanol, Methanol, Methylglyoxal, Molybdatophosphoric acid, Mycobacterium bovis bcg, Neutral red, Nonhuman, Pdim, Petroleum ether, Pgl, Phenotype, Physical chemistry, Real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Rna 16s, Rna extraction, Rv0577, Staining, Thin layer chromatography, Unclassified drug


Boloix, A, Feiner-Gracia, N, Kober, M, Repetto, J, Pascarella, R, Soriano, A, Masanas, M, Segovia, N, Vargas-Nadal, G, Merlo-Mas, J, Danino, D, Abutbul-Ionita, I, Foradada, L, Roma, J, Cordoba, A, Sala, S, Toledo, JS, Gallego, S, Veciana, J, Albertazzi, L, Segura, MF, Ventosa, N, (2022). Engineering pH-Sensitive Stable Nanovesicles for Delivery of MicroRNA Therapeutics Small 18,

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding endogenous RNAs, which are attracting a growing interest as therapeutic molecules due to their central role in major diseases. However, the transformation of these biomolecules into drugs is limited due to their unstability in the bloodstream, caused by nucleases abundantly present in the blood, and poor capacity to enter cells. The conjugation of miRNAs to nanoparticles (NPs) could be an effective strategy for their clinical delivery. Herein, the engineering of non-liposomal lipid nanovesicles, named quatsomes (QS), for the delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs into the cytosol of tumor cells, triggering a tumor-suppressive response is reported. The engineered pH-sensitive nanovesicles have controlled structure (unilamellar), size (<150 nm) and composition. These nanovesicles are colloidal stable (>24 weeks), and are prepared by a green, GMP compliant, and scalable one-step procedure, which are all unavoidable requirements for the arrival to the clinical practice of NP based miRNA therapeutics. Furthermore, QS protect miRNAs from RNAses and when injected intravenously, deliver them into liver, lung, and neuroblastoma xenografts tumors. These stable nanovesicles with tunable pH sensitiveness constitute an attractive platform for the efficient delivery of miRNAs and other small RNAs with therapeutic activity and their exploitation in the clinics.

Keywords: cancer therapy, mirnas delivery, nanocarriers, nanovesicles, neuroblastoma, pediatric cancer, quatsomes, Biodistribution, Cancer therapy, Cell engineering, Cells, Cholesterol, Controlled drug delivery, Diseases, Dna, Dysregulated ph, Lipoplex, Microrna delivery, Mirnas delivery, Nanocarriers, Nanoparticles, Nanovesicle, Nanovesicles, Neuroblastoma, Neuroblastomas, Pediatric cancer, Ph sensitive, Ph sensors, Quatsome, Quatsomes, Rna, Sirna, Sirna delivery, Sirnas delivery, Small interfering rna, Small rna, Targeted drug delivery, Tumors, Vesicles


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Ebrahimi N, Bi C, Cappelleri DJ, Ciuti G, Conn AT, Faivre D, Habibi N, Hošovský A, Iacovacci V, Khalil ISM, Magdanz V, Misra S, Pawashe C, Rashidifar R, Soto-Rodriguez PED, Fekete Z, Jafari A, (2021). Magnetic Actuation Methods in Bio/Soft Robotics Advanced Functional Materials 31,

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH In recent years, magnetism has gained an enormous amount of interest among researchers for actuating different sizes and types of bio/soft robots, which can be via an electromagnetic-coil system, or a system of moving permanent magnets. Different actuation strategies are used in robots with magnetic actuation having a number of advantages in possible realization of microscale robots such as bioinspired microrobots, tetherless microrobots, cellular microrobots, or even normal size soft robots such as electromagnetic soft robots and medical robots. This review provides a summary of recent research in magnetically actuated bio/soft robots, discussing fabrication processes and actuation methods together with relevant applications in biomedical area and discusses future prospects of this way of actuation for possible improvements in performance of different types of bio/soft robots.

Keywords: capsule endoscope, controlled propulsion, conventional gastroscopy, digital microfluidics, guided capsule, liquid-metal, magnetic drug delivery, magnetic microrobots, magnetically guided capsule endoscopy, magnetotactic bacteria, nanoscribe ip-dip, navigation system, Gallium-indium egain, Magnetic bioinspired micromanipulation, Magnetic drug delivery, Magnetic microrobots, Magnetically guided capsule endoscopy, Magnetotactic bacteria


Enshaei H, Puiggalí-Jou A, del Valle LJ, Turon P, Saperas N, Alemán C, (2021). Nanotheranostic Interface Based on Antibiotic-Loaded Conducting Polymer Nanoparticles for Real-Time Monitoring of Bacterial Growth Inhibition Advanced Healthcare Materials 10,

© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH Conducting polymers have been increasingly used as biologically interfacing electrodes for biomedical applications due to their excellent and fast electrochemical response, reversible doping–dedoping characteristics, high stability, easy processability, and biocompatibility. These advantageous properties can be used for the rapid detection and eradication of infections associated to bacterial growth since these are a tremendous burden for individual patients as well as the global healthcare system. Herein, a smart nanotheranostic electroresponsive platform, which consists of chloramphenicol (CAM)-loaded in poly(3,4-ethylendioxythiophene) nanoparticles (PEDOT/CAM NPs) for concurrent release of the antibiotic and real-time monitoring of bacterial growth is presented. PEDOT/CAM NPs, with an antibiotic loading content of 11.9 ± 1.3% w/w, are proved to inhibit the growth of Escherichia coli and Streptococcus sanguinis due to the antibiotic release by cyclic voltammetry. Furthermore, in situ monitoring of bacterial activity is achieved through the electrochemical detection of β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a redox active specie produced by the microbial metabolism that diffuse to the extracellular medium. According to these results, the proposed nanotheranostic platform has great potential for real-time monitoring of the response of bacteria to the released antibiotic, contributing to the evolution of the personalized medicine.

Keywords: bacterial detection, chloramphenicol, conducting polymers, drug, drug release, electrochemical sensors, electrochemistry, electrostimulated release, mechanism, peptide, polythiophene, sensor, sulfonate, Bacterial detection, Chloramphenicol, Conducting polymers, Controlled-release, Drug release, Electrochemical sensors, Electrostimulated release, Polythiophene


Woythe L, Tito NB, Albertazzi L, (2021). A quantitative view on multivalent nanomedicine targeting Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 169, 1-21

© 2020 The Authors Although the concept of selective delivery has been postulated over 100 years ago, no targeted nanomedicine has been clinically approved so far. Nanoparticles modified with targeting ligands to promote the selective delivery of therapeutics towards a specific cell population have been extensively reported. However, the rational design of selective particles is still challenging. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of quantitative theoretical and experimental understanding of the interactions involved in cell targeting. In this review, we discuss new theoretical models and experimental methods that provide a quantitative view of targeting. We show the new advancements in multivalency theory enabling the rational design of super-selective nanoparticles. Furthermore, we present the innovative approaches to obtain key targeting parameters at the single-cell and single molecule level and their role in the design of targeting nanoparticles. We believe that the combination of new theoretical multivalent design and experimental methods to quantify receptors and ligands aids in the rational design and clinical translation of targeted nanomedicines.

Keywords: binding-kinetics, biological identity, biomolecular corona, blood-brain-barrier, drug-delivery, gold nanoparticles, multivalency, nanotechnology, protein corona, quantitative characterization, rational design, super-selectivity, superresolution microscopy, tumor heterogeneity, Ligand-receptor interactions, Multivalency, Nanotechnology, Quantitative characterization, Rational design, Super-selectivity


Blanco-Fernandez, B, Castano, O, Mateos-Timoneda, MA, Engel, E, Perez-Amodio, S, (2021). Nanotechnology Approaches in Chronic Wound Healing Advances in Wound Care 10, 234-256

Significance: The incidence of chronic wounds is increasing due to our aging population and the augment of people afflicted with diabetes. With the extended knowledge on the biological mechanisms underlying these diseases, there is a novel influx of medical technologies into the conventional wound care market. Recent Advances: Several nanotechnologies have been developed demonstrating unique characteristics that address specific problems related to wound repair mechanisms. In this review, we focus on the most recently developed nanotechnology-based therapeutic agents and evaluate the efficacy of each treatment in in vivo diabetic models of chronic wound healing. Critical Issues: Despite the development of potential biomaterials and nanotechnology-based applications for wound healing, this scientific knowledge is not translated into an increase of commercially available wound healing products containing nanomaterials. Future Directions: Further studies are critical to provide insights into how scientific evidences from nanotechnology-based therapies can be applied in the clinical setting.

Keywords: chronic, diabetes, liposomes, nanofibers, nanoparticles, Chronic, Chronic wound, Diabetes, Diabetic wound, Diabetic-rats, Dressings, Drug mechanism, Extracellular-matrix, Growth-factor, Human, In-vitro, Liposome, Liposomes, Mesenchymal stem-cells, Metal nanoparticle, Nanofiber, Nanofibers, Nanofibrous scaffolds, Nanoparticles, Nanotechnology, Nonhuman, Polyester, Polymer, Polysaccharide, Priority journal, Protein, Review, Self assembled protein nanoparticle, Silk fibroin, Skin wounds, Wound healing, Wound healing promoting agent


Sola-Barrado, B., M. Leite, D., Scarpa, E., Duro-Castano, A., Battaglia, G., (2020). Combinatorial intracellular delivery screening of anticancer drugs Molecular Pharmaceutics 17, (12), 4709-4714

Conventional drug solubilization strategies limit the understanding of the full potential of poorly water-soluble drugs during drug screening. Here, we propose a screening approach in which poorly water-soluble drugs are entrapped in poly(2-(methacryloyloxyethyl phosphorylcholine)-poly(2-(diisopropylaminoethyl methacryate) (PMPC-PDPA) polymersomes (POs) to enhance drug solubility and facilitate intracellular delivery. By using a human pediatric glioma cell model, we demonstrated that PMPC-PDPA POs mediated intracellular delivery of cytotoxic and epigenetic drugs by receptor-mediated endocytosis. Additionally, when delivered in combination, drug-loaded PMPC-PDPA POs triggered both an enhanced drug efficacy and synergy compared to that of a conventional combinatorial screening. Hence, our comprehensive synergy analysis illustrates that our screening methodology, in which PMPC-PDPA POs are used for intracellular codelivery of drugs, allows us to identify potent synergistic profiles of anticancer drugs.

Keywords: Combination therapy, Drug screening, Drug solubilization, Intracellular drug delivery, Polymeric nanoparticles, Synergy analysis


Duro-Castano, A., Moreira Leite, D., Forth, J., Deng, Y., Matias, D., Noble Jesus, C., Battaglia, G., (2020). Designing peptide nanoparticles for efficient brain delivery Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 160, 52-77

The targeted delivery of therapeutic compounds to the brain is arguably the most significant open problem in drug delivery today. Nanoparticles (NPs) based on peptides and designed using the emerging principles of molecular engineering show enormous promise in overcoming many of the barriers to brain delivery faced by NPs made of more traditional materials. However, shortcomings in our understanding of peptide self-assembly and blood–brain barrier (BBB) transport mechanisms pose significant obstacles to progress in this area. In this review, we discuss recent work in engineering peptide nanocarriers for the delivery of therapeutic compounds to the brain: from synthesis, to self-assembly, to in vivo studies, as well as discussing in detail the biological hurdles that a nanoparticle must overcome to reach the brain.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Blood-brain barrier, Drug delivery, Glioma, Parkinson's disease, Peptides, Self-assembly, Transcytosis


Borgheti-Cardoso, L. N., Kooijmans, S. A. A., Gutiérrez Chamorro, L., Biosca, A., Lantero, E., Ramírez, M., Avalos-Padilla, Y., Crespo, I., Fernández, I., Fernandez-Becerra, C., del Portillo, H. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Extracellular vesicles derived from Plasmodium-infected and non-infected red blood cells as targeted drug delivery vehicles International Journal of Pharmaceutics 587, 119627

Among several factors behind drug resistance evolution in malaria is the challenge of administering overall doses that are not toxic for the patient but that, locally, are sufficiently high to rapidly kill the parasites. Thus, a crucial antimalarial strategy is the development of drug delivery systems capable of targeting antimalarial compounds to Plasmodium with high specificity. In the present study, extracellular vesicles (EVs) have been evaluated as a drug delivery system for the treatment of malaria. EVs derived from naive red blood cells (RBCs) and from Plasmodium falciparum-infected RBCs (pRBCs) were isolated by ultrafiltration followed by size exclusion chromatography. Lipidomic characterization showed that there were no significant qualitative differences between the lipidomic profiles of pRBC-derived EVs (pRBC-EVs) and RBC-derived EVs (RBC-EVs). Both EVs were taken up by RBCs and pRBCs, although pRBC-EVs were more efficiently internalized than RBC-EVs, which suggested their potential use as drug delivery vehicles for these cells. When loaded into pRBC-EVs, the antimalarial drugs atovaquone and tafenoquine inhibited in vitro P. falciparum growth more efficiently than their free drug counterparts, indicating that pRBC-EVs can potentially increase the efficacy of several small hydrophobic drugs used for the treatment of malaria.

Keywords: Antimalarial drugs, Drug delivery, Extracellular vesicles, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum


Lantero, E., Fernandes, J., Aláez-Versón, C. R., Gomes, J., Silveira, H., Nogueira, F., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2020). Heparin administered to anopheles in membrane feeding assays blocks plasmodium development in the mosquito Biomolecules 10, (8), 1136

Innovative antimalarial strategies are urgently needed given the alarming evolution of resistance to every single drug developed against Plasmodium parasites. The sulfated glycosaminoglycan heparin has been delivered in membrane feeding assays together with Plasmodium berghei-infected blood to Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes. The transition between ookinete and oocyst pathogen stages in the mosquito has been studied in vivo through oocyst counting in dissected insect midguts, whereas ookinete interactions with heparin have been followed ex vivo by flow cytometry. Heparin interferes with the parasite’s ookinete–oocyst transition by binding ookinetes, but it does not affect fertilization. Hypersulfated heparin is a more efficient blocker of ookinete development than native heparin, significantly reducing the number of oocysts per midgut when offered to mosquitoes at 5 µg/mL in membrane feeding assays. Direct delivery of heparin to mosquitoes might represent a new antimalarial strategy of rapid implementation, since it would not require clinical trials for its immediate deployment.

Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Heparin, Malaria, Mosquito, Ookinete, Plasmodium, Transmission blocking


Khurana, K., Guillem-Marti, J., Soldera, F., Mücklich, F., Canal, C., Ginebra, M. P., (2020). Injectable calcium phosphate foams for the delivery of Pitavastatin as osteogenic and angiogenic agent Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part B Applied Biomaterials 108, (3), 760-770

Apatitic bone cements have been used as a clinical bone substitutes and drug delivery vehicles for therapeutic agents in orthopedic applications. This has led to their combination with different drugs with known ability to foster bone formation. Recent studies have evaluated Simvastatin for its role in enhanced bone regeneration, but its lipophilicity hampers incorporation and release to and from the bone graft. In this study, injectable calcium phosphate foams (i-CPF) based on α-tricalcium phosphate were loaded for the first time with Pitavastatin. The stability of the drug in different conditions relevant to this study, the effect of the drug on the i-CPFs properties, the release profile, and the in vitro biological performance with regard to mineralization and vascularization were investigated. Pitavastatin did not cause any changes in neither the micro nor the macro structure of the i-CPFs, which retained their biomimetic features. PITA-loaded i-CPFs showed a dose-dependent drug release, with early stage release kinetics clearly affected by the evolving microstructure due to the setting of cement. in vitro studies showed dose-dependent enhancement of mineralization and vascularization. Our findings contribute towards the design of controlled release with low drug dosing bone grafts: i-CPFs loaded with PITA as osteogenic and angiogenic agent.

Keywords: Controlled drug release, Endothelial progenitor cells, Mineralization, Rat mesenchymal stem cells, Vascularization


De Matteis, Valeria, Rizzello, Loris, (2020). Noble metals and soft bio-inspired nanoparticles in retinal diseases treatment: A perspective Cells 9, (3), 679

We are witnessing an exponential increase in the use of different nanomaterials in a plethora of biomedical fields. We are all aware of how nanoparticles (NPs) have influenced and revolutionized the way we supply drugs or how to use them as therapeutic agents thanks to their tunable physico-chemical properties. However, there is still a niche of applications where NP have not yet been widely explored. This is the field of ocular delivery and NP-based therapy, which characterizes the topic of the current review. In particular, many efforts are being made to develop nanosystems capable of reaching deeper sections of the eye such as the retina. Particular attention will be given here to noble metal (gold and silver), and to polymeric nanoparticles, systems consisting of lipid bilayers such as liposomes or vesicles based on nonionic surfactant. We will report here the most relevant literature on the use of different types of NPs for an efficient delivery of drugs and bio-macromolecules to the eyes or as active therapeutic tools.

Keywords: Bio-inspired NPs, Drug delivery, Noble metals NPs, Retinal diseases


Moghimiardekani, A., Molina, B. G., Enshaei, H., del Valle, L. J., Pérez-Madrigal, M. M., Estrany, F., Alemán, C., (2020). Semi-interpenetrated hydrogels-microfibers electroactive assemblies for release and real-time monitoring of drugs Macromolecular Bioscience 20, (7), 2000074

Simultaneous drug release and monitoring using a single polymeric platform represents a significant advance in the utilization of biomaterials for therapeutic use. Tracking drug release by real-time electrochemical detection using the same platform is a simple way to guide the dosage of the drug, improve the desired therapeutic effect, and reduce the adverse side effects. The platform developed in this work takes advantage of the flexibility and loading capacity of hydrogels, the mechanical strength of microfibers, and the capacity of conducting polymers to detect the redox properties of drugs. The engineered platform is prepared by assembling two spin-coated layers of poly-γ-glutamic acid hydrogel, loaded with poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) microparticles, and separated by a electrospun layer of poly-ε-caprolactone microfibers. Loaded PEDOT microparticles are used as reaction nuclei for the polymerization of poly(hydroxymethyl-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PHMeDOT), that semi-interpenetrate the whole three layered system while forming a dense network of electrical conduction paths. After demonstrating its properties, the platform is loaded with levofloxacin and its release monitored externally by UV–vis spectroscopy and in situ by using the PHMeDOT network. In situ real-time electrochemical monitoring of the drug release from the engineered platform holds great promise for the development of multi-functional devices for advanced biomedical applications.

Keywords: Biosensors, Conducting polymers, Drug delivery, Poly-γ-glutamic acid, Poly-ε-caprolactone


Llopis-Lorente, A., García-Fernández, A., Murillo-Cremaes, N., Hortelão, A. C., Patinño, T., Villalonga, R., Sancenón, F., Martínez-Máñer, R., Sánchez, S., (2019). Enzyme-powered gated mesoporous silica nanomotors for on-command intracellular payload delivery ACS Nano 13, (10), 12171-12183

The introduction of stimuli-responsive cargo release capabilities on self-propelled micro- and nanomotors holds enormous potential in a number of applications in the biomedical field. Herein, we report the preparation of mesoporous silica nanoparticles gated with pH-responsive supramolecular nanovalves and equipped with urease enzymes which act as chemical engines to power the nanomotors. The nanoparticles are loaded with different cargo molecules ([Ru(bpy)3]Cl2 (bpy = 2,2′-bipyridine) or doxorubicin), grafted with benzimidazole groups on the outer surface, and capped by the formation of inclusion complexes between benzimidazole and cyclodextrin-modified urease. The nanomotor exhibits enhanced Brownian motion in the presence of urea. Moreover, no cargo is released at neutral pH, even in the presence of the biofuel urea, due to the blockage of the pores by the bulky benzimidazole:cyclodextrin-urease caps. Cargo delivery is only triggered on-command at acidic pH due to the protonation of benzimidazole groups, the dethreading of the supramolecular nanovalves, and the subsequent uncapping of the nanoparticles. Studies with HeLa cells indicate that the presence of biofuel urea enhances nanoparticle internalization and both [Ru(bpy)3]Cl2 or doxorubicin intracellular release due to the acidity of lysosomal compartments. Gated enzyme-powered nanomotors shown here display some of the requirements for ideal drug delivery carriers such as the capacity to self-propel and the ability to “sense” the environment and deliver the payload on demand in response to predefined stimuli.

Keywords: Controlled release, Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Gatekeepers, Nanocarriers, Nanomotors, Stimuli-responsive nanomaterials


Puiggalí-Jou, A., del Valle, L. J., Alemán, C., (2019). Drug delivery systems based on intrinsically conducting polymers Journal of Controlled Release 309, 244-264

This work provides an overview of the up to date research related to intrinsically conducting polymers (ICPs) and their function as novel drug delivery systems (DDSs). Drugs administrated to patients do not always reach the targeted organ, which may affect other tissues leading to undesired side-effects. To overcome these problems, DDSs are under development. Nowadays, it is possible to target the administration and, most importantly, to achieve a controlled drug dosage upon external stimuli. Particularly, the attention of this work focuses on the drug release upon electrical stimuli employing ICPs. These are well-known organic polymers with outstanding electrical properties similar to metals but also retaining some advantageous characteristics normally related to polymers, like mechanical stability and easiness of processing. Depending on the redox state, ICPs can incorporate or release anionic or cationic molecules on-demand. Besides, the releasing rate can be finely tuned by the type of electrical stimulation applied. Another interesting feature is that ICPs are capable to sense redox molecules such as dopamine, serotonin or ascorbic acid among others. Therefore, future prospects go towards the design of materials where the releasing rate could be self-adjusted in response to changes in the surrounding environment. This recompilation of ideas and projects provides a critic outline of ICPs synthesis progress related to their use as DDSs. Definitely, ICPs are a very promising branch of DDSs where the dose can be finely tuned by the exertion of an external stimulus, hence optimizing the repercussions of the drug and diminishing its side effects.

Keywords: Controlled release, DDS, Drug delivery, Electrical stimuli, ICP, Intrinsically conducting polymers


Roki, N., Tsinas, Z., Solomon, M., Bowers, J., Getts, R. C., Muro, S., (2019). Unprecedently high targeting specificity toward lung ICAM-1 using 3DNA nanocarriers Journal of Controlled Release 305, 41-49

DNA nanostructures hold great potential for drug delivery. However, their specific targeting is often compromised by recognition by scavenger receptors involved in clearance. In our previous study in cell culture, we showed targeting specificity of a 180 nm, 4-layer DNA-built nanocarrier called 3DNA coupled with antibodies against intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), a glycoprotein overexpressed in the lungs in many diseases. Here, we examined the biodistribution of various 3DNA formulations in mice. A formulation consisted of 3DNA whose outer-layer arms were hybridized to secondary antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates. Anchoring IgG on this formulation reduced circulation and kidney accumulation vs. non-anchored IgG, while increasing liver and spleen clearance, as expected for a nanocarrier. Anchoring anti-ICAM changed the biodistribution of this antibody similarly, yet this formulation specifically accumulated in the lungs, the main ICAM-1 target. Since lung targeting was modest (2-fold specificity index over IgG formulation), we pursued a second preparation involving direct hybridization of primary antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates to 3DNA. This formulation had prolonged stability in serum and showed a dramatic increase in lung distribution: the specificity index was 424-fold above a matching IgG formulation, 144-fold more specific than observed for PLGA nanoparticles of similar size, polydispersity, ζ-potential and antibody valency, and its lung accumulation increased with the number of anti-ICAM molecules per particle. Immunohistochemistry showed that anti-ICAM and 3DNA components colocalized in the lungs, specifically associating with endothelial markers, without apparent histological changes. The degree of in vivo targeting for anti-ICAM/3DNA-nanocarriers is unprecedented, for which this platform technology holds great potential to develop future therapeutic applications.

Keywords: 3DNA, DNA nanostructure, Drug nanocarrier, Endothelial and lung targeting, ICAM-1, In vivo biodistribution


Mestres, G., Fernandez-Yague, M. A., Pastorino, D., Montufar, E. B., Canal, C., Manzanares-Céspedes, M. C., Ginebra, M. P., (2019). In vivo efficiency of antimicrobial inorganic bone grafts in osteomyelitis treatments Materials Science and Engineering: C 97, 84-95

The purpose of the present work was to evaluate in vivo different antimicrobial therapies to eradicate osteomyelitis created in the femoral head of New Zealand rabbits. Five phosphate-based cements were evaluated: calcium phosphate cements (CPC) and calcium phosphate foams (CPF), both in their pristine form and loaded with doxycycline hyclate, and an intrinsic antimicrobial magnesium phosphate cement (MPC; not loaded with an antibiotic). The cements were implanted in a bone previously infected with Staphylococcus aureus to discern the effects of the type of antibiotic administration (systemic vs. local), porosity (microporosity, i.e. <5 μm vs. macroporosity, i.e. >5 μm) and type of antimicrobial mechanism (release of antibiotic vs. intrinsic antimicrobial activity) on the improvement of the health state of the infected animals. A new method was developed, with a more comprehensive composite score that integrates 5 parameters of bone infection, 4 parameters of bone structural integrity and 4 parameters of bone regeneration. This method was used to evaluate the health state of the infected animals, both before and after osteomyelitis treatment. The results showed that the composite score allows to discern statistically significant differences between treatments that individual evaluations were not able to identify. Despite none of the therapies completely eradicated the infection, it was observed that macroporous materials (CPF and CPFd, the latter loaded with doxycycline hyclate) and intrinsic antimicrobial MPC allowed a better containment of the osteomyelitis. This study provides novel insights to understand the effect of different antimicrobial therapies in vivo, and a promising comprehensive methodology to evaluate the health state of the animals was developed. We expect that the implementation of such methodology could improve the criteria to select a proper antimicrobial therapy.

Keywords: Calcium phosphate cements, Calcium phosphate foams, Drug delivery, In vivo, Magnesium phosphate cements, Osteomyelitis


Valenti, S., Diaz, A., Romanini, M., del Valle, L. J., Puiggalí, J., Tamarit, J. L., Macovez, R., (2019). Amorphous binary dispersions of chloramphenicol in enantiomeric pure and racemic poly-lactic acid: Morphology, molecular relaxations, and controlled drug release International Journal of Pharmaceutics 568, 118565

We characterize amorphous solid dispersions (ASDs) of the Chloramphenicol antibiotic in two biodegradable polylactic acid polymers, namely a commercial sample of enantiomeric pure PLLA and a home-synthesized PDLLA copolymer, investigating in particular the effect of polylactic acid in stabilizing the amorphous form of the drug and controlling its release (e.g. for antitumoral purposes). Broadband dielectric spectroscopy and differential scanning calorimetry are employed to study the homogeneity, glass transition temperature and relaxation dynamics of solvent-casted ASD membranes with different drug concentrations. We observe improved physical stability of the ASDs with respect to the pure drug, as well as a plasticizing effect of the antibiotic on the polymer, well described by the Gordon-Taylor equation. The release of the active pharmaceutical ingredient from the films in a simulated body fluid is studied by UV/vis spectroscopy at two different drug concentrations (5 and 20% in weight). The amount of released drug is found to be proportional to the square root of time, with proportionality constant that is almost the same in both dispersions, despite the fact that the relaxation time and thus the viscosity of the two samples differ by four orders of magnitude at body temperature. Since the drug release kinetics does not display a significant dependence on the drug content in the carrier, it may be expected to remain roughly constant during longer release times.

Keywords: Amorphous drug, Controlled liberation, Dielectric spectroscopy, Molecular mobility, Plasticizer, Polymer enantiomerism


Biosca, A., Dirscherl, L., Moles, E., Imperial, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2019). An immunoPEGliposome for targeted antimalarial combination therapy at the nanoscale Pharmaceutics 11, (7), 341

Combination therapies, where two drugs acting through different mechanisms are administered simultaneously, are one of the most efficient approaches currently used to treat malaria infections. However, the different pharmacokinetic profiles often exhibited by the combined drugs tend to decrease treatment efficacy as the compounds are usually eliminated from the circulation at different rates. To circumvent this obstacle, we have engineered an immunoliposomal nanovector encapsulating hydrophilic and lipophilic compounds in its lumen and lipid bilayer, respectively. The antimalarial domiphen bromide has been encapsulated in the liposome membrane with good efficiency, although its high IC50 of ca. 1 μM for living parasites complicates its use as immunoliposomal therapy due to erythrocyte agglutination. The conjugation of antibodies against glycophorin A targeted the nanocarriers to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells and to gametocytes, the sole malaria parasite stage responsible for the transmission from the human to the mosquito vector. The antimalarials pyronaridine and atovaquone, which block the development of gametocytes, have been co-encapsulated in glycophorin A-targeted immunoliposomes. The co-immunoliposomized drugs have activities significantly higher than their free forms when tested in in vitro Plasmodium falciparum cultures: Pyronaridine and atovaquone concentrations that, when encapsulated in immunoliposomes, resulted in a 50% inhibition of parasite growth had no effect on the viability of the pathogen when used as free drugs.

Keywords: Combination therapy, Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Moles, E., Kavallaris, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2019). Modeling the distribution of diprotic basic drugs in liposomal systems: Perspectives on malaria nanotherapy Frontiers in Pharmacology 10, 1064

Understanding how polyprotic compounds distribute within liposome (LP) suspensions is of major importance to design effective drug delivery strategies. Advances in this research field led to the definition of LP-based active drug encapsulation methods driven by transmembrane pH gradients with evidenced efficacy in the management of cancer and infectious diseases. An accurate modeling of membrane-solution drug partitioning is also fundamental when designing drug delivery systems for poorly endocytic cells, such as red blood cells (RBCs), in which the delivered payloads rely mostly on the passive diffusion of drug molecules across the cell membrane. Several experimental models have been proposed so far to predict the partitioning of polyprotic basic/acid drugs in artificial membranes. Nevertheless, the definition of a model in which the membrane-solution partitioning of each individual drug microspecies is studied relative to each other is still a topic of ongoing research. We present here a novel experimental approach based on mathematical modeling of drug encapsulation efficiency (EE) data in liposomal systems by which microspecies-specific partition coefficients are reported as a function of pH and phospholipid compositions replicating the RBC membrane in a simple and highly translatable manner. This approach has been applied to the study of several diprotic basic antimalarials of major clinical importance (quinine, primaquine, tafenoquine, quinacrine, and chloroquine) describing their respective microspecies distribution in phosphatidylcholine-LP suspensions. Estimated EE data according to the model described here closely fitted experimental values with no significant differences obtained in 75% of all pH/lipid composition-dependent conditions assayed. Additional applications studied include modeling drug EE in LPs in response to transmembrane pH gradients and lipid bilayer asymmetric charge, conditions of potential interest reflected in our previously reported RBC-targeted antimalarial nanotherapeutics.

Keywords: Distribution coefficient, Liposomal systems, Malaria therapy, Nanomedicine, Partition coefficient, PH-controlled drug encapsulation, Polyprotic drug, Targeted drug delivery


Samitier, Josep, Correia, A., (2019). Biomimetic Nanotechnology for Biomedical Applications (NanoBio&Med 2018) Biomimetics MDPI

Emerging nanobiotechnologies can offer solutions to the current and future challenges in medicine. By covering topics from regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, drug delivery, bionanofabrication, and molecular biorecognition, this Special Issue aims to provide an update on the trends in nanomedicine and drug delivery using biomimetic approaches, and the development of novel biologically inspired devices for the safe and effective diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of disease.

Keywords: Bioinspired nanotechnologies, Bionanofabrication, Bio-nano measurement and microscopy, Nanomaterials for biological and medical applications, Nanoassemblies, Nanostructured surfaces, Drug delivery, Nanobioelectronics, Integrated systems/nanobiosensors, Nanotoxicology, Graphene-based applications


Muro, Silvia, (2018). Alterations in cellular processes involving vesicular trafficking and implications in drug delivery Biomimetics 3, (3), 19

Endocytosis and vesicular trafficking are cellular processes that regulate numerous functions required to sustain life. From a translational perspective, they offer avenues to improve the access of therapeutic drugs across cellular barriers that separate body compartments and into diseased cells. However, the fact that many factors have the potential to alter these routes, impacting our ability to effectively exploit them, is often overlooked. Altered vesicular transport may arise from the molecular defects underlying the pathological syndrome which we aim to treat, the activity of the drugs being used, or side effects derived from the drug carriers employed. In addition, most cellular models currently available do not properly reflect key physiological parameters of the biological environment in the body, hindering translational progress. This article offers a critical overview of these topics, discussing current achievements, limitations and future perspectives on the use of vesicular transport for drug delivery applications.

Keywords: Cellular vesicles, Vesicle fusion, Fission and intracellular trafficking, Drug delivery systems and nanomedicines, Transcytosis and endocytosis of drugs carriers, Disease effects on vesicular trafficking, Drug effects on vesicular trafficking, Role of the biological environment


Hortelão, A. C., Patiño, T., Perez-Jiménez, A., Blanco, A., Sánchez, S., (2018). Enzyme-powered nanobots enhance anticancer drug delivery Advanced Functional Materials 28, 1705086

The use of enzyme catalysis to power micro- and nanomotors exploiting biocompatible fuels has opened new ventures for biomedical applications such as the active transport and delivery of specific drugs to the site of interest. Here, urease-powered nanomotors (nanobots) for doxorubicin (Dox) anticancer drug loading, release, and efficient delivery to cells are presented. These mesoporous silica-based core-shell nanobots are able to self-propel in ionic media, as confirmed by optical tracking and dynamic light scattering analysis. A four-fold increase in drug release is achieved by nanobots after 6 h compared to their passive counterparts. Furthermore, the use of Dox-loaded nanobots presents an enhanced anticancer efficiency toward HeLa cells, which arises from a synergistic effect of the enhanced drug release and the ammonia produced at high concentrations of urea substrate. A higher content of Dox inside HeLa cells is detected after 1, 4, 6, and 24 h incubation with active nanobots compared to passive Dox-loaded nanoparticles. The improvement in drug delivery efficiency achieved by enzyme-powered nanobots may hold potential toward their use in future biomedical applications such as the substrate-triggered release of drugs in target locations.

Keywords: Drug delivery, Enzymatic catalysis, Nanobots, Nanomachines, Nanomotors


Macedo, Maria Helena, Araújo, Francisca, Martínez, Elena, Barrias, Cristina, Sarmento, Bruno, (2018). iPSC-Derived enterocyte-like cells for drug absorption and metabolism studies Trends in Molecular Medicine 24, (8), 696-708

Intestinal cell models have been widely studied and used to evaluate absorption and metabolism of drugs in the small intestine, constituting valuable tools as a first approach to evaluate the behavior of new drugs. However, such cell models might not be able to fully predict the absorption mechanisms and metabolic pathways of the tested compounds. In recent years, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) differentiated into enterocyte-like cells have been proposed as more biorelevant intestinal models. In this review, we describe mechanisms underlying the differentiation of iPSCs into enterocyte-like cells, appraise the usefulness of these cells in tridimensional intestinal models, and discuss their suitability to be used in the future for drug screening.

Keywords: iPSCs, Enterocytes, Differentiation, Small intestine, Drug absorption, Intestinal models


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

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

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


Martí Coma-Cros, E., Biosca, A., Marques, J., Carol, L., Urbán, P., Berenguer, D., Riera, M. C., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Pérez, P., Paaijmans, K., Rottmann, M., Manfredi, A., Ferruti, P., Ranucci, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Polyamidoamine nanoparticles for the oral administration of antimalarial drugs Pharmaceutics 10, (4), 225

Current strategies for the mass administration of antimalarial drugs demand oral formulations to target the asexual Plasmodium stages in the peripheral bloodstream, whereas recommendations for future interventions stress the importance of also targeting the transmission stages of the parasite as it passes between humans and mosquitoes. Orally administered polyamidoamine (PAA) nanoparticles conjugated to chloroquine reached the blood circulation and cured Plasmodium yoelii-infected mice, slightly improving the activity of the free drug and inducing in the animals immunity against malaria. Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry analysis of affinity chromatography-purified PAA ligands suggested a high adhesiveness of PAAs to Plasmodium falciparum proteins, which might be the mechanism responsible for the preferential binding of PAAs to Plasmodium-infected erythrocytes vs. non-infected red blood cells. The weak antimalarial activity of some PAAs was found to operate through inhibition of parasite invasion, whereas the observed polymer intake by macrophages indicated a potential of PAAs for the treatment of certain coinfections such as Plasmodium and Leishmania. When fluorescein-labeled PAAs were fed to females of the malaria mosquito vectors Anopheles atroparvus and Anopheles gambiae, persistent fluorescence was observed in the midgut and in other insect’s tissues. These results present PAAs as a versatile platform for the encapsulation of orally administered antimalarial drugs and for direct administration of antimalarials to mosquitoes, targeting mosquito stages of Plasmodium.

Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymers, Targeted drug delivery


Khurana, Kanupriya, Müller, Frank, Jacobs, Karin, Faidt, Thomas, Neurohr, Jens-Uwe, Grandthyll, Samuel, Mücklich, Frank, Canal, Cristina, Pau Ginebra, Maria, (2018). Plasma polymerized bioceramics for drug delivery: Do surface changes alter biological behaviour? European Polymer Journal 107, 25-33

One of the treatments for recurrent or complicated osteomyelitis is by local antibiotherapy mediated by suitable bone grafts. β–Tricalcium Phosphate (β–TCP) bioceramic is a resorbable bone graft. Its microporosity allows for incorporation of drugs, but a too fast release is often obtained. Complex strategies have been explored to obtain controlled drug release. In this work, plasma polymerization of a biocompatible polymer was investigated on β-TCP. Polyethyleneglycol (PEG)-like polymer coatings of different thickness were deposited on microporous β-TCP loaded with antibiotics. A highly hydrophobic surface was obtained despite the hydrophilicity of the PEG-like layer produced, which was associated to the roughness of the β-TCP substrate. The bioceramics nevertheless retained their suitable biological behavior with regard to human osteoblast cells. The microbiological activity of the antibiotics was preserved, and the coatings reduced the total amount of drug released as a function of the increasing plasma treatment time.

Keywords: Plasma polymerization, β–Tricalcium phosphate, PEG-like polymer, Antibiotics, Drug release, Biocompatibility


Borgheti-Cardoso, L.N., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2018). Turning Plasmodium survival strategies against itself Future Medicinal Chemistry 10, (19), 2245-2248

Duro-Castano, Aroa, Nebot, Vicent J., Niño-Pariente, Amaya, Armiñán, Ana, Arroyo-Crespo, Juan J., Paul, Alison, Feiner-Gracia, Natalia, Albertazzi, Lorenzo, Vicent, María J., (2017). Capturing “extraordinary” soft-assembled charge-like polypeptides as a strategy for nanocarrier design Advanced Materials 29, (39), 1702888

The rational design of nanomedicines is a challenging task given the complex architectures required for the construction of nanosized carriers with embedded therapeutic properties and the complex interface of these materials with the biological environment. Herein, an unexpected charge-like attraction mechanism of self-assembly for star-shaped polyglutamates in nonsalty aqueous solutions is identified, which matches the ubiquitous “ordinary–extraordinary” phenomenon previously described by physicists. For the first time, a bottom-up methodology for the stabilization of these nanosized soft-assembled star-shaped polyglutamates is also described, enabling the translation of theoretical research into nanomaterials with applicability within the drug-delivery field. Covalent capture of these labile assemblies provides access to unprecedented architectures to be used as nanocarriers. The enhanced in vitro and in vivo properties of these novel nanoconstructs as drug-delivery systems highlight the potential of this approach for tumor-localized as well as lymphotropic delivery.

Keywords: Charge-like, Drug delivery, Polymer therapeutics, Polypeptides, Self-assembly


Stanton, Morgan M., Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Pushing bacterial biohybrids to in vivo applications Trends in Biotechnology , 35, (10), 910-913

Bacterial biohybrids use the energy of bacteria to manipulate synthetic materials with the goal of solving biomedical problems at the micro- and nanoscale. We explore current in vitro studies of bacterial biohybrids, the first attempts at in vivo biohybrid research, and problems to be addressed for the future.

Keywords: Bacteria, Biohybrid, Microswimmers, Micromotors, Drug delivery


Moles, E., Galiano, S., Gomes, A., Quiliano, M., Teixeira, C., Aldana, I., Gomes, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). ImmunoPEGliposomes for the targeted delivery of novel lipophilic drugs to red blood cells in a falciparum malaria murine model Biomaterials 145, 178-191

Most drugs currently entering the clinical pipeline for severe malaria therapeutics are of lipophilic nature, with a relatively poor solubility in plasma and large biodistribution volumes. Low amounts of these compounds do consequently accumulate in circulating Plasmodium-infected red blood cells, exhibiting limited antiparasitic activity. These drawbacks can in principle be satisfactorily dealt with by stably encapsulating drugs in targeted nanocarriers. Here this approach has been adapted for its use in immunocompetent mice infected by the Plasmodium yoelii 17XL lethal strain, selected as a model for human blood infections by Plasmodium falciparum. Using immunoliposomes targeted against a surface protein characteristic of the murine erythroid lineage, the protocol has been applied to two novel antimalarial lipophilic drug candidates, an aminoquinoline and an aminoalcohol. Large encapsulation yields of >90% were obtained using a citrate-buffered pH gradient method and the resulting immunoliposomes reached in vivo erythrocyte targeting and retention efficacies of >80%. In P. yoelii-infected mice, the immunoliposomized aminoquinoline succeeded in decreasing blood parasitemia from severe to uncomplicated malaria parasite densities (i.e. from ≥25% to ca. 5%), whereas the same amount of drug encapsulated in non-targeted liposomes had no significant effect on parasite growth. Pharmacokinetic analysis indicated that this good performance was obtained with a rapid clearance of immunoliposomes from the circulation (blood half-life of ca. 2 h), suggesting a potential for improvement of the proposed model.

Keywords: Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium yoelii 17XL, Targeted drug delivery


Marques, J., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Urbán, P., Baró, E., Prohens, R., Mayor, A., Cisteró, P., Delves, M., Sinden, R. E., Grandfils, C., de Paz, J. L., García-Salcedo, J. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). Adaptation of targeted nanocarriers to changing requirements in antimalarial drug delivery Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine 13, (2), 515-525

The adaptation of existing antimalarial nanocarriers to new Plasmodium stages, drugs, targeting molecules, or encapsulating structures is a strategy that can provide new nanotechnology-based, cost-efficient therapies against malaria. We have explored the modification of different liposome prototypes that had been developed in our group for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs). These new models include: (i) immunoliposome-mediated release of new lipid-based antimalarials; (ii) liposomes targeted to pRBCs with covalently linked heparin to reduce anticoagulation risks; (iii) adaptation of heparin to pRBC targeting of chitosan nanoparticles; (iv) use of heparin for the targeting of Plasmodium stages in the mosquito vector; and (v) use of the non-anticoagulant glycosaminoglycan chondroitin 4-sulfate as a heparin surrogate for pRBC targeting. The results presented indicate that the tuning of existing nanovessels to new malaria-related targets is a valid low-cost alternative to the de novo development of targeted nanosystems.

Keywords: Glycosaminoglycans, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Aláez-Versón, C. R., Lantero, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2017). Heparin: New life for an old drug Nanomedicine 12, (14), 1727-1744

Heparin is one of the oldest drugs, which nevertheless remains in widespread clinical use as an inhibitor of blood coagulation. The history of its identification a century ago unfolded amid one of the most fascinating scientific controversies turning around the distribution of credit for its discovery. The composition, purification and structure-function relationship of this naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan regarding its classical role as anticoagulant will be dealt with before proceeding to discuss its therapeutic potential in, among other, inflammatory and infectious disease, cancer treatment, cystic fibrosis and Alzheimer's disease. The first bibliographic reference hit using the words 'nanomedicine' and 'heparin' is as recent as 2008. Since then, nanomedical applications of heparin have experienced an exponential growth that will be discussed in detail, with particular emphasis on its antimalarial activity. Some of the most intriguing potential applications of heparin nanomedicines will be exposed, such as those contemplating the delivery of drugs to the mosquito stages of malaria parasites.

Keywords: Anopheles, Antimalarial drugs, Heparin, Malaria, Mosquitoes, Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Ma, Xing, Sánchez, Samuel, (2017). Self-propelling micro-nanorobots: challenges and future perspectives in nanomedicine Nanomedicine 12, (12), 1363-1367

Mohammadi, M. H., Obregón, R., Ahadian, S., Ramón-Azcón, J., Radisic, M., (2017). Engineered muscle tissues for disease modeling and drug screening applications Current Pharmaceutical Design , 23, (20), 2991-3004

Animal models have been the main resources for drug discovery and prediction of drugs’ pharmacokinetic responses in the body. However, noticeable drawbacks associated with animal models include high cost, low reproducibility, low physiological similarity to humans, and ethical problems. Engineered tissue models have recently emerged as an alternative or substitute for animal models in drug discovery and testing and disease modeling. In this review, we focus on skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle tissues by first describing their characterization and physiology. Major fabrication technologies (i.e., electrospinning, bioprinting, dielectrophoresis, textile technology, and microfluidics) to make functional muscle tissues are then described. Finally, currently used muscle tissue models in drug screening are reviewed and discussed.

Keywords: Cardiac muscle, Drug screening, Engineering muscle, Human pharmacological response, Physiological similarity, Skeletal muscle


Moles, E., Moll, K., Ch'ng, J. H., Parini, P., Wahlgren, M., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Development of drug-loaded immunoliposomes for the selective targeting and elimination of rosetting Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells Journal of Controlled Release 241, 57-67

Parasite proteins exported to the surface of Plasmodium falciparum-parasitized red blood cells (pRBCs) have a major role in severe malaria clinical manifestation, where pRBC cytoadhesion and rosetting processes have been strongly linked with microvascular sequestration while avoiding both spleen filtration and immune surveillance. The parasite-derived and pRBC surface-exposed PfEMP1 protein has been identified as one of the responsible elements for rosetting and, therefore, considered as a promising vaccine candidate for the generation of rosette-disrupting antibodies against severe malaria. However, the potential role of anti-rosetting antibodies as targeting molecules for the functionalization of antimalarial drug-loaded nanovectors has never been studied. Our manuscript presents a proof-of-concept study where the activity of an immunoliposomal vehicle with a dual performance capable of specifically recognizing and disrupting rosettes while simultaneously eliminating those pRBCs forming them has been assayed in vitro. A polyclonal antibody against the NTS-DBL1α N-terminal domain of a rosetting PfEMP1 variant has been selected as targeting molecule and lumefantrine as the antimalarial payload. After 30 min incubation with 2 μM encapsulated drug, a 70% growth inhibition for all parasitic forms in culture (IC50: 414 nM) and a reduction in ca. 60% of those pRBCs with a rosetting phenotype (IC50: 747 nM) were achieved. This immunoliposomal approach represents an innovative combination therapy for the improvement of severe malaria therapeutics having a broader spectrum of activity than either anti-rosetting antibodies or free drugs on their own.

Keywords: Combination therapy, Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Rosetting, Targeted drug delivery


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2016). Novel strategies for Plasmodium-targeted drug delivery Expert Opinion on Drug Delivery , 13, (7), 919-922

Paoli, R., Samitier, J., (2016). Mimicking the kidney: A key role in organ-on-chip development Micromachines , 7, (7), 126

Pharmaceutical drug screening and research into diseases call for significant improvement in the effectiveness of current in vitro models. Better models would reduce the likelihood of costly failures at later drug development stages, while limiting or possibly even avoiding the use of animal models. In this regard, promising advances have recently been made by the so-called "organ-on-chip" (OOC) technology. By combining cell culture with microfluidics, biomedical researchers have started to develop microengineered models of the functional units of human organs. With the capacity to mimic physiological microenvironments and vascular perfusion, OOC devices allow the reproduction of tissue- and organ-level functions. When considering drug testing, nephrotoxicity is a major cause of attrition during pre-clinical, clinical, and post-approval stages. Renal toxicity accounts for 19% of total dropouts during phase III drug evaluation-more than half the drugs abandoned because of safety concerns. Mimicking the functional unit of the kidney, namely the nephron, is therefore a crucial objective. Here we provide an extensive review of the studies focused on the development of a nephron-on-chip device.

Keywords: Disease model, Drug discovery, Kidney, Nephron-on-chip, Organ-on-chip


Moles, E., Urbán, P., Jiménez-Díaz, M. B., Viera-Morilla, S., Angulo-Barturen, I., Busquets, M. A., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2015). Immunoliposome-mediated drug delivery to Plasmodium-infected and non-infected red blood cells as a dual therapeutic/prophylactic antimalarial strategy Journal of Controlled Release 210, 217-229

One of the most important factors behind resistance evolution in malaria is the failure to deliver sufficiently high amounts of drugs to early stages of Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs). Despite having been considered for decades as a promising approach, the delivery of antimalarials encapsulated in immunoliposomes targeted to pRBCs has not progressed towards clinical applications, whereas in vitro assays rarely reach drug efficacy improvements above 10-fold. Here we show that encapsulation efficiencies reaching >96% are achieved for the weak basic drugs chloroquine (CQ) and primaquine using the pH gradient loading method in liposomes containing neutral saturated phospholipids. Targeting antibodies are best conjugated through their primary amino groups, adjusting chemical crosslinker concentration to retain significant antigen recognition. Antigens from non-parasitized RBCs have also been considered as targets for the delivery to the cell of drugs not affecting the erythrocytic metabolism. Using this strategy, we have achieved unprecedented complete nanocarrier targeting to early intraerythrocytic stages of the malaria parasite for which there is a lack of specific extracellular molecular tags. Immunoliposomes studded with monoclonal antibodies raised against the erythrocyte surface protein glycophorin A were capable of targeting 100% RBCs and pRBCs at the low concentration of 0.5 μM total lipid in the culture, with >95% of added liposomes retained on cell surfaces. When exposed for only 15 min to Plasmodium falciparum in vitro cultures of early stages, free CQ had no significant effect on the viability of the parasite up to 200 nM, whereas immunoliposomal 50 nM CQ completely arrested its growth. In vivo assays in mice showed that immunoliposomes cleared the pathogen below detectable levels at a CQ dose of 0.5 mg/kg, whereas free CQ administered at 1.75 mg/kg was, at most, 40-fold less efficient. Our data suggest that this significant improvement is in part due to a prophylactic effect of CQ found by the pathogen in its host cell right at the very moment of invasion.

Keywords: Immunoliposomes, Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Targeted drug delivery


Moles, E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2015). Loading antimalarial drugs into noninfected red blood cells: An undesirable roommate for Plasmodium Future Medicinal Chemistry 7, (7), 837-840

The malaria parasite, Plasmodium spp., is a delicate unicellular organism unable to survive in free form for more than a couple of minutes in the bloodstream. Upon injection in a human by its Anopheles mosquito vector, Plasmodium sporozoites pass through the liver with the aim of invading hepatocytes. Those which succeed spend inside their host cell a recovery time before replicating and entering the blood circulation as fragile merozoites, although their exposure to host defenses is extraordinarily short. Quick invasion of red blood cells (RBCs) in a process lasting just a few minutes allows the parasite to escape immune system surveillance. For most of its erythrocytic cycle the pathogen feeds mainly on hemoglobin as it progresses from the early blood stages, termed rings, to the late forms trophozoites and schizonts. Early stages are ideal targets for antimalarial therapies because drugs delivered to them would have a longer time to kill the parasite before it completes its development. However, only 6 h after invasion does the permeability of the infected erythrocyte to anions and small nonelectrolytes, including some drugs, start to increase as the parasite matures [1]. During this maturation process the parasite hydrolyzes hemoglobin in a digestive vacuole, which is the target of many amphiphilic drugs that freely cross the RBC membrane and accumulate intracellularly. As a result, most antimalarials start affecting the infected cell relatively late in the intraerythrocytic parasite life cycle, when their effect is probably often too short to be lethal to Plasmodium.

Keywords: Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Red blood cell, Targeted drug delivery


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

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

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

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


Urbán, P., Valle-Delgado, J. J., Mauro, N., Marques, J., Manfredi, A., Rottmann, M., Ranucci, E., Ferruti, P., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2014). Use of poly(amidoamine) drug conjugates for the delivery of antimalarials to Plasmodium Journal of Controlled Release 177, (1), 84-95

Current malaria therapeutics demands strategies able to selectively deliver drugs to Plasmodium-infected red blood cells (pRBCs) in order to limit the appearance of parasite resistance. Here, the poly(amidoamines) AGMA1 and ISA23 have been explored for the delivery of antimalarial drugs to pRBCs. AGMA1 has antimalarial activity per se as shown by its inhibition of the in vitrogrowth of Plasmodium falciparum, with an IC50 of 13.7 μM. Fluorescence-assisted cell sorting data and confocal fluorescence microscopy and transmission electron microscopy images indicate that both polymers exhibit preferential binding to and internalization into pRBCs versus RBCs, and subcellular targeting to the parasite itself in widely diverging species such as P. falciparum and Plasmodium yoelii, infecting humans and mice, respectively. AGMA1 and ISA23 polymers with hydrodynamic radii around 7 nm show a high loading capacity for the antimalarial drugs primaquine and chloroquine, with the final conjugate containing from 14.2% to 32.9% (w/w) active principle. Intraperitoneal administration of 0.8 mg/kg chloroquine as either AGMA1 or ISA23 salts cured P. yoelii–infected mice, whereas control animals treated with twice as much free drug did not survive. These polymers combining into a single chemical structure drug carrying capacity, low unspecific toxicity, high biodegradability and selective internalization into pRBCs, but not in healthy erythrocytes for human and rodent malarias, may be regarded as promising candidates deserving to enter the antimalarial therapeutic arena.

Keywords: Malaria, Nanomedicine, Plasmodium, Polyamidoamines, Polymer-drug carriers, Targeted drug delivery


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

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

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


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

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

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


Tajes, M., Ramos-Fernández, E., Weng-Jiang, X., Bosch-Morató, M., Guivernau, B., Eraso-Pichot, A., Salvador, B., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Roquer, J., Muñoz, F. J., (2014). The blood-brain barrier: Structure, function and therapeutic approaches to cross it Molecular Membrane Biology , 31, (5), 152-167

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is constituted by a specialized vascular endothelium that interacts directly with astrocytes, neurons and pericytes. It protects the brain from the molecules of the systemic circulation but it has to be overcome for the proper treatment of brain cancer, psychiatric disorders or neurodegenerative diseases, which are dramatically increasing as the population ages. In the present work we have revised the current knowledge on the cellular structure of the BBB and the different procedures utilized currently and those proposed to cross it. Chemical modifications of the drugs, such as increasing their lipophilicity, turn them more prone to be internalized in the brain. Other mechanisms are the use of molecular tools to bind the drugs such as small immunoglobulins, liposomes or nanoparticles that will act as Trojan Horses favoring the drug delivery in brain. This fusion of the classical pharmacology with nanotechnology has opened a wide field to many different approaches with promising results to hypothesize that BBB will not be a major problem for the new generation of neuroactive drugs. The present review provides an overview of all state-of-the-art of the BBB structure and function, as well as of the classic strategies and these appeared in recent years to deliver drugs into the brain for the treatment of Central Nervous System (CNS) diseases.

Keywords: Blood brain barrier, Drug delivery, Membrane transport


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Amyloid fibrils in neurodegenerative diseases: villains or heroes? Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (16), 1903-1906

Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2013). Heparin-functionalized nanocapsules: Enabling targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs Future Medicinal Chemistry 5, (7), 737-739

Acerbi, I., Luque, T., Giménez, A., Puig, M., Reguart, N., Farré, R., Navajas, D., Alcaraz, J., (2012). Integrin-specific mechanoresponses to compression and extension probed by cylindrical flat-ended afm tips in lung cells PLoS ONE 7, (2), e32261

Cells from lung and other tissues are subjected to forces of opposing directions that are largely transmitted through integrin-mediated adhesions. How cells respond to force bidirectionality remains ill defined. To address this question, we nanofabricated flat-ended cylindrical Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) tips with ~1 μm 2 cross-section area. Tips were uncoated or coated with either integrin-specific (RGD) or non-specific (RGE/BSA) molecules, brought into contact with lung epithelial cells or fibroblasts for 30 s to form focal adhesion precursors, and used to probe cell resistance to deformation in compression and extension. We found that cell resistance to compression was globally higher than to extension regardless of the tip coating. In contrast, both tip-cell adhesion strength and resistance to compression and extension were the highest when probed at integrin-specific adhesions. These integrin-specific mechanoresponses required an intact actin cytoskeleton, and were dependent on tyrosine phosphatases and Ca 2+ signaling. Cell asymmetric mechanoresponse to compression and extension remained after 5 minutes of tip-cell adhesion, revealing that asymmetric resistance to force directionality is an intrinsic property of lung cells, as in most soft tissues. Our findings provide new insights on how lung cells probe the mechanochemical properties of the microenvironment, an important process for migration, repair and tissue homeostasis.

Keywords: Arginylglycylaspartic acid, Arginylglycylglutamic acid, Bovine serum albumin, Calcium ion, Integrin, Protein tyrosine phosphatase, Unclassified drug


Urban, Patricia, Estelrich, Joan, Adeva, Alberto, Cortes, Alfred, Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2011). Study of the efficacy of antimalarial drugs delivered inside targeted immunoliposomal nanovectors Nanoscale Research Letters 6, (1), 620

Paul Ehrlich's dream of a 'magic bullet' that would specifically destroy invading microbes is now a major aspect of clinical medicine. However, a century later, the implementation of this medical holy grail continues being a challenge in three main fronts: identifying the right molecular or cellular targets for a particular disease, having a drug that is effective against it, and finding a strategy for the efficient delivery of sufficient amounts of the drug in an active state exclusively to the selected targets. In a previous work, we engineered an immunoliposomal nanovector for the targeted delivery of its contents exclusively to Plasmodium falciparum-infected red blood cells [pRBCs]. In preliminary assays, the antimalarial drug chloroquine showed improved efficacy when delivered inside immunoliposomes targeted with the pRBC-specific monoclonal antibody BM1234. Because difficulties in determining the exact concentration of the drug due to its low amounts prevented an accurate estimation of the nanovector performance, here, we have developed an HPLC-based method for the precise determination of the concentrations in the liposomal preparations of chloroquine and of a second antimalarial drug, fosmidomycin. The results obtained indicate that immunoliposome encapsulation of chloroquine and fosmidomycin improves by tenfold the efficacy of antimalarial drugs. The targeting antibody used binds preferentially to pRBCs containing late maturation stages of the parasite. In accordance with this observation, the best performing immunoliposomes are those added to Plasmodium cultures having a larger number of late form-containing pRBCs. An average of five antibody molecules per liposome significantly improves in cell cultures the performance of immunoliposomes over non-functionalized liposomes as drug delivery vessels. Increasing the number of antibodies on the liposome surface correspondingly increases performance, with a reduction of 50% parasitemia achieved with immunoliposomes encapsulating 4 nM chloroquine and bearing an estimated 250 BM1234 units. The nanovector prototype described here can be a valuable platform amenable to modification and improvement with the objective of designing a nanostructure adequate to enter the preclinical pipeline as a new antimalarial therapy.

Keywords: Plasmodium falciparum, Antimalarial drug, Nanovector, Immuno-liposomes


Sisquella, X., de Pourcq, K., Alguacil, J., Robles, J., Sanz, F., Anselmetti, D., Imperial, S., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., (2010). A single-molecule force spectroscopy nanosensor for the identification of new antibiotics and antimalarials FASEB Journal , 24, (11), 4203-4217

An important goal of nanotechnology is the application of individual molecule handling techniques to the discovery of potential new therapeutic agents. Of particular interest is the search for new inhibitors of metabolic routes exclusive of human pathogens, such as the 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway essential for the viability of most human pathogenic bacteria and of the malaria parasite. Using atomic force microscopy single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS), we have probed at the single-molecule level the interaction of 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase (DXS), which catalyzes the first step of the MEP pathway, with its two substrates, pyruvate and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate. The data obtained in this pioneering SMFS analysis of a bisubstrate enzymatic reaction illustrate the substrate sequentiality in DXS activity and allow for the calculation of catalytic parameters with single-molecule resolution. The DXS inhibitor fluoropyruvate has been detected in our SMFS competition experiments at a concentration of 10 mu M, improving by 2 orders of magnitude the sensitivity of conventional enzyme activity assays. The binding of DXS to pyruvate is a 2-step process with dissociation constants of k(off) = 6.1 x 10(-4) +/- 7.5 x 10(-3) and 1.3 x 10(-2) +/- 1.0 x 10(-2) s(-1), and reaction lengths of x(beta) = 3.98 +/- 0.33 and 0.52 +/- 0.23 angstrom. These results constitute the first quantitative report on the use of nanotechnology for the biodiscovery of new antimalarial enzyme inhibitors and open the field for the identification of compounds represented only by a few dozens of molecules in the sensor chamber.

Keywords: Malaria, 2-C-methyl-D-erythritol-4-phosphate pathway, 1-deoxy-D-xylulose 5-phosphate synthase, Pyruvate, Glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate, Drug discovery


Torrents, E., Sjoberg, B. M., (2010). Antibacterial activity of radical scavengers against class Ib ribonucleotide reductase from Bacillus anthracis Biological Chemistry , 391, (2-3), 229-234

Bacillus anthracis is a severe mammalian pathogen. The deoxyribonucleotides necessary for DNA replication and repair are provided via the ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) enzyme. RNR is also important for spore germination and cell proliferation upon infection. We show that the expression of B. anthracis class Ib RNR responds to the environment that the pathogen encounters upon infection. We also show that several anti-proliferative agents (radical scavengers) specifically inhibit the B. anthracis RNR. Owing to the importance of RNR in the pathogenic infection process, our results highlight a promising potential to inhibit the growth of B. anthracis early during infection.

Keywords: Anthrax, Antibacterial drug, Antibacterial target, Enzyme inhibition


Hosta, L., Pla, M., Arbiol, J., Lopez-Iglesias, C., Samitier, J., Cruz, L. J., Kogan, M. J., Albericio, F., (2009). Conjugation of Kahalalide F with gold nanoparticles to enhance in vitro antitumoral activity Bioconjugate Chemistry , 20, (1), 138-146

Two Cys-containing analogues of the anticancer drug Kahalalide F are synthesized and conjugated to 20 and 40 nm gold nanoparticles (GNPs). The resulting complexes are characterized by different analytical techniques to confirm the attachment of peptide to the GNPs. The self-assembly capacity of a peptide dramatically influences the final ratio number of molecules per nanoparticle, saturating the nanoparticle surface and prompting multilayered capping on the surface. In such way, the nanoparticle could act as a concentrator for the delivery of drugs, thereby increasing bioactivity. The GNP sizes and the conjugation have influence on the biological activities. Kahalalide F analogues conjugated with GNPs are located subcellularly at lysosome-like bodies, which may be related to the action mechanism of Kahalalide F. The results suggest that the selective delivery and activity of Kahalalide F analogues can be improved by conjugating the peptides to GNPs.

Keywords: Electrical detection, Cellular uptake, Drug-delivery, Cancer-cells, Peptide, Size, Surface, Absorption, Scattering, Therapy


Gimenez-Oya, V., Villacanas, O., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Rubio-Martinez, J., Imperial, S., (2009). Mimicking direct protein-protein and solvent-mediated interactions in the CDP-methylerythritol kinase homodimer: a pharmacophore-directed virtual screening approach Journal of Molecular Modeling , 15, (8), 997-1007

The 2C-methylerythritol 4-phosphate (MEP) pathway for the biosynthesis of isopentenyl pyrophosphate and its isomer dimethylallyl pyrophosphate, which are the precursors of isoprenoids, is present in plants, in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum and in most eubacteria, including pathogenic agents. However, the MEP pathway is absent from fungi and animals, which have exclusively the mevalonic acid pathway. Given the characteristics of the MEP pathway, its enzymes represent potential targets for the generation of selective antibacterial, antimalarial and herbicidal molecules. We have focussed on the enzyme 4-(cytidine 5'-diphospho)-2-C-methyl-D: -erythritol kinase (CMK), which catalyses the fourth reaction step of the MEP pathway. A molecular dynamics simulation was carried out on the CMK dimer complex, and protein-protein interactions analysed, considering also water-mediated interactions between monomers. In order to find small molecules that bind to CMK and disrupt dimer formation, interactions observed in the dynamics trajectory were used to model a pharmacophore used in database searches. Using an intensity-fading matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation time-of-flight mass spectrometry approach, one compound was found to interact with CMK. The data presented here indicate that a virtual screening approach can be used to identify candidate molecules that disrupt the CMK-CMK complex. This strategy can contribute to speeding up the discovery of new antimalarial, antibacterial, and herbicidal compounds.

Keywords: Solvent-mediated interactions, Protein-protein interactions, Molecular dynamics, Drug design, Intensisty-fading MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry


Engel, E., Del Valle, S., Aparicio, C., Altankov, G., Asin, L., Planell, J. A., Ginebra, M. P., (2008). Discerning the role of topography and ion exchange in cell response of bioactive tissue engineering scaffolds Tissue Engineering Part A , 14, (8), 1341-1351

Surface topography is known to have an influence on osteoblast activity. However, in the case of bioactive materials, topographical changes can affect also ion exchange properties. This makes the problem more complex, since it is often difficult to separate the strictly topographical effects from the effects of ionic fluctuations in the medium. The scope of this paper is to analyze the simultaneous effect of topography and topography-mediated ion exchange on the initial cellular behavior of osteoblastic-like cells cultured on bioactive tissue engineering substrates. Two apatitic substrates with identical chemical composition but different micro/nanostructural features were obtained by low-temperature setting of a calcium phosphate cement. MG63 osteoblastic-like cells were cultured either in direct contact with the substrates or with their extracts. A strong and permanent decrease of calcium concentration in the culture medium, dependent on substrate topography, was detected. A major effect of the substrate microstructure on cell proliferation was observed, explained in part by the topography-mediated ion exchange, but not specifically by the ionic Ca(2+) fluctuations. Cell differentiation was strongly enhanced when cells were cultured on the finer substrate. This effect was not explained by the chemical modification of the medium, but rather suggested a strictly topographical effect.

Keywords: Alkaline Phosphatase/metabolism, Bone Cements/pharmacology, Calcium/metabolism, Calcium Phosphates/pharmacology, Cell Adhesion/drug effects, Cell Differentiation/drug effects, Cell Proliferation/drug effects, Cell Shape/drug effects, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Durapatite/pharmacology, Humans, Interferometry, Ion Exchange, Materials Testing, Osteoblasts/ cytology/drug effects/enzymology/ultrastructure, Phosphorus/metabolism, Powders, Tissue Engineering, Tissue Scaffolds