Staff member


Maria Guix Noguera

Postdoctoral Researcher
Smart Nano-Bio-Devices
mguix@ibecbarcelona.eu

Staff member publications

Guix, Maria, Mestre, Rafael, Patiño, Tania, De Corato, Marco, Fuentes, Judith, Zarpellon, Giulia, Sánchez, Samuel, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6, (53), eabe7577

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


Hortelao, Ana C., Simó, Cristina, Guix, Maria, Guallar-Garrido, Sandra, Julián, Esther, Vilela, Diana, Rejc, Luka, Ramos-Cabrer, Pedro, Cossíoo, Unai, Gómez-Vallejo, Vanessa, Patiño, Tania, Llop, Jordi, Sánchez, Samuel, (2021). Swarming behavior and in vivo monitoring of enzymatic nanomotors within the bladder Science Robotics 6, (52), eabd2823

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


Mestre, R., Patiño, T., Guix, M., Barceló, X., Sánchez, S., (2019). Design, optimization and characterization of bio-hybrid actuators based on 3D-bioprinted skeletal muscle tissue Biomimetic and Biohybrid Systems 8th International Conference, Living Machines 2019 (Lecture Notes in Computer Science) , Springer International Publishing (Nara, Japan) 11556, 205-215

The field of bio-hybrid robotics aims at the integration of biological components with artificial materials in order to take advantage of many unique features occurring in nature, such as adaptability, self-healing or resilience. In particular, skeletal muscle tissue has been used to fabricate bio-actuators or bio-robots that can perform simple actions. In this paper, we present 3D bioprinting as a versatile technique to develop these kinds of actuators and we focus on the importance of optimizing the designs and properly characterizing their performance. For that, we introduce a method to calculate the force generated by the bio-actuators based on the deflection of two posts included in the bio-actuator design by means of image processing algorithms. Finally, we present some results related to the adaptation, controllability and force modulation of our bio-actuators, paving the way towards a design- and optimization-driven development of more complex 3D-bioprinted bio-actuators.

Keywords: 3D bioprinting, Bio-hybrid robotics, Muscle-based bio-actuators