We engineer biomaterials with controlled properties for applications in cell engineering, to support in vitro models and as tools for mechanobiology.
Our research focuses on the design of advanced biomaterials to engineer the cellular microenvironment, and has the potential to impact health by translating fundamental research into innovative therapies.
We have pioneered the design of materials that trigger the organisation of extracellular matrix proteins in a physiological way, a phenomenon that named material-driven protein fibrillogenesis (Science Advances 2016). We have also introduced new concepts in the field, such as the use viscosity to control cell behaviour (PNAS 2018); living biomaterials (bacteria-based materials) for stem cell engineering (Advanced Materials 2018); the low dose use of BMP-2 for bone regeneration (Advanced Science 2019), the relationship between matrix rigidity and metabolism (Nature Metabolism 2020) and interfaces that trigger the mechanical activation of growth factors (Advanced Materials 2024).
Our group develops radical new concepts that are pushed all the way through the translational ladder to tackle unmet clinical problems related to the health of people.
1. Engineered viscoelasticity in regenerative medicine and mechanobiology
We know that the extracellular matrix is viscoelastic yet most biomaterials that support tissue engineering and regenerative medicine approaches only consider the elasticity of biomaterials. We strive at design of materials where elasticity and viscosity can be tuned independently to provide 2D and 3D hydrogels that support dynamic cellular process and their physical remodelling.
2. in vitro models in health and disease
Improved in vitro models enable the study of human tissues in health and disease (e.g. cancer, degenerative diseases, inflammatory diseases), the assessment of new drug delivery tools (e.g. functional biomaterials, encapsulation delivery technologies, new microfluidic devices, etc.), and the cheaper and safer toxicity screening of new drug candidates. We develop robust extracellular matrix mimics, that provide the essential characteristics of a natural ECM in its ability to direct and control cell behaviour, yet with minimal complexity.
3. Engineered living biomaterials to control stem cell fate
Materials-based approaches to direct stem cell fate have resulted in major findings in relation to surface chemistry, stiffness and nanotopography. However, these models are a poor representation of in vivo behaviours, where cells interact with the extracellular matrix through a highly dynamic process. We have pioneered genetically engineered non-pathogenic bacteria that underpin living biomaterials that support stem cells. Living biomaterials that are responsive to small molecules and controlled by light will be new tools in the field.
Manuel Salmeron Sanchez
IBEC is strengthened by the addition of three new research groups in advanced and emerging therapies
IBEC kicks off 2024 with the incorporation of three new research groups led by Manuel Salmerón Sánchez, Zaida Álvarez Pinto, and Xavier Rovira Clavé. With these additions, IBEC strengthens its position in the field of advanced and emerging therapies.
IBEC’s 16th annual Symposium focused on ‘Bioengineering for Future and Precision Medicine,’ one of IBEC’s three key application areas. Approximately 300 people attended the event, including local and international researchers. It provided a multidisciplinary environment where experts from other institutions and the IBEC community had the opportunity to present their projects and exchange knowledge.