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by Keyword: Phase

del-Mazo-Barbara L, Johansson L, Tampieri F, Ginebra M-P, (2024). Toughening 3D printed biomimetic hydroxyapatite scaffolds: Polycaprolactone-based self-hardening inks Acta Biomaterialia 177, 506-524

The application of 3D printing to calcium phosphates has opened unprecedented possibilities for the fabrication of personalized bone grafts. However, their biocompatibility and bioactivity are counterbalanced by their high brittleness. In this work we aim at overcoming this problem by developing a self-hardening ink containing reactive ceramic particles in a polycaprolactone solution instead of the traditional approach that use hydrogels as binders. The presence of polycaprolactone preserved the printability of the ink and was compatible with the hydrolysis-based hardening process, despite the absence of water in the ink and its hydrophobicity. The microstructure evolved from a continuous polymeric phase with loose ceramic particles to a continuous network of hydroxyapatite nanocrystals intertwined with the polymer, in a configuration radically different from the polymer/ceramic composites obtained by fused deposition modelling. This resulted in the evolution from a ductile behavior, dominated by the polymer, to a stiffer behavior as the ceramic phase reacted. The polycaprolactone binder provides two highly relevant benefits compared to hydrogel-based inks. First, the handleability and elasticity of the as-printed scaffolds, together with the proven possibility of eliminating the solvent, opens the door to implanting the scaffolds freshly printed once lyophilized, while in a ductile state, and the hardening process to take place inside the body, as in the case of calcium phosphate cements. Second, even with a hydroxyapatite content of more than 92 wt.%, the flexural strength and toughness of the scaffolds after hardening are twice and five times those of the all-ceramic scaffolds obtained with the hydrogel-based inks, respectively. Statement of significance: Overcoming the brittleness of ceramic scaffolds would extend the applicability of synthetic bone grafts to high load-bearing situations. In this work we developed a 3D printing ink by replacing the conventional hydrogel binder with a water-free polycaprolactone solution. The presence of polycaprolactone not only enhanced significantly the strength and toughness of the scaffolds while keeping the proportion of bioactive ceramic phase larger than 90 wt.%, but it also conferred flexibility and manipulability to the as-printed scaffolds. Since they are able to harden upon contact with water under physiological conditions, this opens up the possibility of implanting them immediately after printing, while they are still in a ductile state, with clear advantages for fixation and press-fit in the bone defect. © 2024 The Authors

JTD Keywords: 3-d printing, 3d printing, 3d-printing, Binders, Biocompatibility, Biomimetic hydroxyapatites, Biomimetics, Bone cement, Bone scaffolds, Brittleness, Calcium phosphate, Ceramic phase, Ceramic scaffolds, Ceramics particles, Fracture mechanics, Hardening, Hardening process, Hydrogels, Hydroxyapatite, Mechanical properties, Plasticity, Polycaprolactone, Scaffolds, Scaffolds (biology), Self hardening, Strength and toughness


Humbert P, Kampleitner C, De Lima J, Brennan MÁ, Lodoso-Torrecilla I, Sadowska JM, Blanchard F, Canal C, Ginebra MP, Hoffmann O, Layrolle P, (2024). Phase composition of calcium phosphate materials affects bone formation by modulating osteoclastogenesis Acta Biomaterialia 176, 417-431

Human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) seeded on calcium phosphate (CaP) bioceramics are extensively explored in bone tissue engineering and have recently shown effective clinical outcomes. In previous pre-clinical studies, hMSCs-CaP-mediated bone formation was preceded by osteoclastogenesis at the implantation site. The current study evaluates to what extent phase composition of CaPs affects the osteoclast response and ultimately influence bone formation. To this end, four different CaP bioceramics were used, hydroxyapatite (HA), β-tricalcium phosphate (β-TCP) and two biphasic composites of HA/β-TCP ratios of 60/40 and 20/80 respectively, for in vitro osteoclast differentiation and correlation with in vivo osteoclastogenesis and bone formation. All ceramics allowed osteoclast formation in vitro from mouse and human precursors, except for pure HA, which significantly impaired their maturation. Ectopic implantation alongside hMSCs in subcutis sites of nude mice revealed new bone formation at 8 weeks in all conditions with relative amounts for β-TCP > biphasic CaPs > HA. Surprisingly, while hMSCs were essential for osteoinduction, their survival did not correlate with bone formation. By contrast, the degree of early osteoclastogenesis (2 weeks) seemed to define the extent of subsequent bone formation. Together, our findings suggest that the osteoclastic response could be used as a predictive marker in hMSC-CaP-based bone regeneration and strengthens the need to understand the underlying mechanisms for future biomaterial development. STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE: The combination of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) and calcium phosphate (CaP) materials has demonstrated its safety and efficacy for bone regeneration in clinical trials, despite our insufficient understanding of the underlying biological mechanisms. Osteoclasts were previously suggested as key mediators between the early inflammatory phase following biomaterial implantation and the subsequent bone formation. Here we compared the affinity of osteoclasts for various CaP materials with different ratios of hydroxyapatite to β-tricalcium phosphate. We found that osteoclast formation, both in vitro and at early stages in vivo, correlates with bone formation when the materials were implanted alongside MSCs in mice. Surprisingly, MSC survival did not correlate with bone formation, suggesting that the number or phenotype of osteoclasts formed was more important.Copyright © 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: Acid phosphatase tartrate resistant isoenzyme, Animal, Animal cell, Animal experiment, Animal tissue, Animals, Article, Beta-tricalcium phosphate, Bioceramics, Biocompatible materials, Biomaterial, Bone, Bone development, Bone formation, Bone regeneration, Calcium phosphate, Calcium phosphate materials, Calcium phosphates, Cd14 antigen, Cell differentiation, Cell engineering, Cell maturation, Cell survival, Ceramics, Chemical composition, Controlled study, Correlation analysis, Correlation coefficient, Data correlation, Durapatite, Engraftment, Flowcharting, Human, Human cell, Human mesenchymal stromal cell, Human mesenchymal stromal cells, Humans, Hydroxyapatite, Hydroxyapatites, In vitro study, In vivo study, In-vitro, In-vivo, Mammals, Material composition, Material compositions, Mesenchymal stroma cell, Mesenchymal stromal cells, Mice, Mice, nude, Monocyte, Mouse, Nonhuman, Nude mouse, Ossification, Osteoclast, Osteoclastogenesis, Osteoclasts, Osteogenesis, Phase composition, Subcutaneous tissue, Tissue engineering, Transmission control protocol, Tri-calcium phosphates, Vimentin


Wagner, AM, Kostina, NY, Xiao, Q, Klein, ML, Percec, V, Rodriguez-Emmenegger, C, (2024). Glycan-Driven Formation of Raft-Like Domains with Hierarchical Periodic Nanoarrays on Dendrimersome Synthetic Cells Biomacromolecules 25, 366-378

The accurate spatial segregation into distinct phases within cell membranes coordinates vital biochemical processes and functionalities in living organisms. One of nature's strategies to localize reactivity is the formation of dynamic raft domains. Most raft models rely on liquid-ordered L-0 phases in a liquid-disordered L-d phase lacking correlation and remaining static, often necessitating external agents for phase separation. Here, we introduce a synthetic system of bicomponent glycodendrimersomes coassembled from Janus dendrimers and Janus glycodendrimers (JGDs), where lactose-lactose interactions exclusively drive lateral organization. This mechanism results in modulated phases across two length scales, yielding raft-like microdomains featuring nanoarrays at the nanoscale. By varying the density of lactose and molecular architecture of JGDs, the nanoarray type and size, shape, and spacing of the domains were controlled. Our findings offer insight into the potential primordial origins of rudimentary raft domains and highlight the crucial role of glycans within the glycocalyx.

JTD Keywords: Article, Artificial cells, Atomic force microscopy, Bicomponents, Bilayer, Bilayer membrane, Biochemical functionality, Biochemical process, Biological-membranes, Cell component, Cell membrane, Cellular parameters, Chemical interaction, Chemical structure, Chemistry, Cytology, Defined janus glycodendrimers, Dehydration, Dendrimer, Dendrimers, Dilution, Dimer, External agents, Fourier transform, Giant vesicles, Glycan, Glycans, Glycocalyx, Glycodendrimers, Janus dendrimer, Janus glycodendrimer, Lactose, Lateral organization, Lectin, Lipid rafts, Living organisms, Membrane damage, Membrane microdomain, Membrane microdomains, Membrane structure, Metabolism, Modulated phases, Molecule, Monomer, Nanoarrays, Oligosaccharide, Organization, Periodicity, Phase separation, Phase-separation, Phospholipids, Polysaccharide, Polysaccharides, Raft like domain, Relative humidity, Spatial segregation, Structure analysis, Sugars, Synthetic systems, Tetramer, Unclassified drug, Unilamellar vesicles, Water


Barskiy, DA, Blanchard, JW, Budker, D, Stern, Q, Eills, J, Elliott, SJ, Picazo-Frutos, R, Garcon, A, Jannin, S, Koptyug, IV, (2023). Possible Applications of Dissolution Dynamic Nuclear Polarization in Conjunction with Zero- to Ultralow-Field Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Applied Magnetic Resonance 54, 1221-1240

The combination of a powerful and broadly applicable nuclear hyperpolarization technique with emerging (near-)zero-field modalities offers novel opportunities in a broad range of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and imaging applications, including biomedical diagnostics, monitoring catalytic reactions within metal reactors and many others. These are discussed along with a roadmap for future developments.

JTD Keywords: Couplings, Hyperpolarization, Nmr, Parahydrogen, Phase, Radicals, Time


Resina, L, Alemán, C, Ferreira, FC, Esteves, T, (2023). Protein-imprinted polymers: How far have "plastic antibodies" come? Biotechnology Advances 68, 108220

Antibodies are highly selective and sensitive, making them the gold standard for recognition affinity tools. However, their production cost is high and their downstream processing is time-consuming. Molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) are tailor-made by incorporating specific molecular recognition sites in their structure, thus translating into receptor-like activity mode of action. The interest in molecular imprinting technology, applied to biomacromolecules, has increased in the past decade. MIPs, produced using biomolecules as templates, commonly referred to as "plastic antibodies" or "artificial receptors", have been considered as suitable cheaper and easy to produce alternatives to antibodies. Research on MIPs, designed to recognize proteins or peptides is particularly important, with potential contributions towards biomedical applications, namely biosensors and targeted drug delivery systems. This mini review will cover recent advances on (bio)molecular imprinting technology, where proteins or peptides are targeted or mimicked for sensing and therapeutic applications. Polymerization methods are reviewed elsewhere, being out of the scope of this review. Template selection and immobilization approaches, monomers and applications will be discussed, highlighting possible drawbacks and gaps in research.Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: artificial antibodies, assay, biomimetics, biomolecules, biosensors, delivery, diagnostics, drug delivery, electrochemical detection, nanoparticles, receptors, science-and-technology, selective recognition, selective targeting, separation, templates, Artificial antibodies, Biomimetics, Biomolecules, Biosensors, Diagnostics, Drug delivery, Molecularly imprinted polymers, Nanoparticles, Selective targeting, Solid-phase synthesis


Valenti, S, Arioli, M, Jamett, A, Tamarit, JL, Puiggalí, J, Macovez, R, (2023). Amorphous solid dispersions of curcumin in a poly(ester amide): Antiplasticizing effect on the glass transition and macromolecular relaxation dynamics, and controlled release International Journal Of Pharmaceutics 644, 123333

In order to exploit the pharmacological potential of natural bioactive molecules with low water solubility, such as curcumin, it is necessary to develop formulations, such as amorphous polymer dispersions, which allow a constant release rate and at the same time avoid possible toxicity effects of the crystalline form of the molecule under scrutiny. In this study, polymer dispersions of curcumin were obtained in PADAS, a biodegradable semicrystalline copolymer based on 1,12-dodecanediol, sebacic acid and alanine. The dispersions were fully characterized by means of differential scanning calorimetry and broadband dielectric spectroscopy, and the drug release profile was measured in a simulated body fluid. Amorphous homogeneous binary dispersions were obtained for curcumin mass fraction between 30 and 50%. Curcumin has significantly higher glass transition temperature Tg (≈ 347 K) than the polymer matrix (≈274-277 K depending on the molecular weight), and dispersions displayed Tg's intermediate between those of the pure amorphous components, implying that curcumin acts as an effective antiplasticizer for PADAS. Dielectric spectroscopy was employed to assess the relaxation dynamics of the binary dispersion with 30 wt% curcumin, as well as that of each (amorphous) component separately. The binary dispersion was characterized by a single structural relaxation, a single Johari-Goldstein process, and two local intramolecular processes, one for each component. Interestingly, the latter processes scaled with the Tg of the sample, indicating that they are viscosity-sensitive. In addition, both the pristine polymer and the dispersion exhibited an interfacial Maxwell-Wagner relaxation, likely due to spatial heterogeneities associated with phase disproportionation in this polymer. The release of curcumin from the dispersion in a simulated body fluid followed a Fickian diffusion profile, and 51% of the initial curcumin content was released in 48 h.Copyright © 2023. Published by Elsevier B.V.

JTD Keywords: antioxidant, bioavailability, dielectric spectroscopy, domain havriliak-negami, glass transition temperature, kinetic stability, molecular mobility, nm pores, phase-behavior, physical stability, release kinetics, temperature, thermodynamic quantities, time, Amorphous formulations, Dielectric spectroscopy, Glass transition temperature, Kinetic stability, Kohlrausch-williams-watts, Molecular mobility, Release kinetics


Almadhi, S, Forth, J, Rodriguez-Arco, L, Duro-Castano, A, Williams, I, Ruiz-Pérez, L, Battaglia, G, (2023). Bottom-Up Preparation of Phase-Separated Polymersomes Macromolecular Bioscience 23, 2300068

A bottom-up approach to fabricating monodisperse, two-component polymersomes that possess phase-separated ("patchy") chemical topology is presented. This approach is compared with already-existing top-down preparation methods for patchy polymer vesicles, such as film rehydration. These findings demonstrate a bottom-up, solvent-switch self-assembly approach that produces a high yield of nanoparticles of the target size, morphology, and surface topology for drug delivery applications, in this case patchy polymersomes of a diameter of ≈50 nm. In addition, an image processing algorithm to automatically calculate polymersome size distributions from transmission electron microscope images based on a series of pre-processing steps, image segmentation, and round object identification is presented.© 2023 Wiley-VCH GmbH.

JTD Keywords: assemblies, copolymers, evolution, membranes, micelles, ph, phase separation, polymersomes, rafts, self-assembly, size, vesicles, Cell biology, Drug delivery, Phase separation, Polymersomes, Self-assembly, Vesicles


Ferre-Torres, J, Noguera-Monteagudo, A, Lopez-Canosa, A, Romero-Arias, JR, Barrio, R, Castaño, O, Hernandez-Machado, A, (2023). Modelling of chemotactic sprouting endothelial cells through an extracellular matrix Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 11, 1145550

Sprouting angiogenesis is a core biological process critical to vascular development. Its accurate simulation, relevant to multiple facets of human health, is of broad, interdisciplinary appeal. This study presents an in-silico model replicating a microfluidic assay where endothelial cells sprout into a biomimetic extracellular matrix, specifically, a large-pore, low-concentration fibrin-based porous hydrogel, influenced by chemotactic factors. We introduce a novel approach by incorporating the extracellular matrix and chemotactic factor effects into a unified term using a single parameter, primarily focusing on modelling sprouting dynamics and morphology. This continuous model naturally describes chemotactic-induced sprouting with no need for additional rules. In addition, we extended our base model to account for matrix sensing and degradation, crucial aspects of angiogenesis. We validate our model via a hybrid in-silico experimental method, comparing the model predictions with experimental results derived from the microfluidic setup. Our results underscore the intricate relationship between the extracellular matrix structure and angiogenic sprouting, proposing a promising method for predicting the influence of the extracellular matrix on angiogenesis.Copyright © 2023 Ferre-Torres, Noguera-Monteagudo, Lopez-Canosa, Romero-Arias, Barrio, Castaño and Hernandez-Machado.

JTD Keywords: angiogenesis, biomimmetic, chemotaxis, endothelial cells, filopodia, growth, in silico model, mathematical models, mechanisms, metalloproteinase, migration, morphogenesis, phase field, pore-size, simulation, Angiogenesis, Biomimmetic, Chemotaxis, Endothelial cells, Extracellular matrix, In silico model, Mathematical models, Phase field, Tip cells


Blanco-Fernandez, G, Blanco-Fernandez, B, Fernandez-Ferreiro, A, Otero-Espinar, FJ, (2023). Lipidic lyotropic liquid crystals: Insights on biomedical applications Advances In Colloid And Interface Science 313, 102867

Liquid crystals (LCs) possess unique physicochemical properties, translatable into a wide range of applications. To date, lipidic lyotropic LCs (LLCs) have been extensively explored in drug delivery and imaging owing to the capability to encapsulate and release payloads with different characteristics. The current landscape of lipidic LLCs in biomedical applications is provided in this review. Initially, the main properties, types, methods of fabrication and applications of LCs are showcased. Then, a comprehensive discussion of the main biomedical applications of lipidic LLCs accordingly to the application (drug and biomacromolecule delivery, tissue engi-neering and molecular imaging) and route of administration is examined. Further discussion of the main limi-tations and perspectives of lipidic LLCs in biomedical applications are also provided.Statement of significance: Liquid crystals (LCs) are those systems between a solid and liquid state that possess unique morphological and physicochemical properties, translatable into a wide range of biomedical applications. A short description of the properties of LCs, their types and manufacturing procedures is given to serve as a background to the topic. Then, the latest and most innovative research in the field of biomedicine is examined, specifically the areas of drug and biomacromolecule delivery, tissue engineering and molecular imaging. Finally, prospects of LCs in biomedicine are discussed to show future trends and perspectives that might be utilized. This article is an ampliation, improvement and actualization of our previous short forum article "Bringing lipidic lyotropic liquid crystal technology into biomedicine" published in TIPS.

JTD Keywords: drug delivery, glycerol monooleate, imaging, liquid crystals, Cancer, Drug delivery, Drug-delivery-systems, Glycerol monooleate, Imaging, In-situ, Liquid crystals, Nano-carriers, Nanoparticles, Phase-behavior, Stratum-corneum, Sustained-release, Tissue engineering, Vegetable-oil, Water


Avalos-Padilla, Y, Georgiev, VN, Ewins, E, Robinson, T, Orozco, E, Lipowsky, R, Dimova, R, (2023). Stepwise remodeling and subcompartment formation in individual vesicles by three ESCRT-III proteins Iscience 26, 105765

The endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) is a multi-protein machinery involved in several membrane remodeling processes. Different approaches have been used to resolve how ESCRT proteins scission membranes. However, the underlying mechanisms generating membrane deformations are still a matter of debate. Here, giant unilamellar vesicles, microfluidic technology, and micropipette aspiration are combined to continuously follow the ESCRT-III-mediated membrane remodeling on the single-vesicle level for the first time. With this approach, we identify different mechanisms by which a minimal set of three ESCRT-III proteins from Entamoeba histolytica reshape the membrane. These proteins modulate the membrane stiffness and spontaneous curvature to regulate bud size and generate intraluminal vesicles even in the absence of ATP. We demonstrate that the bud stability depends on the protein concentration and membrane tension. The approaches introduced here should open the road to diverse applications in synthetic biology for establishing artificial cells with several membrane compartments.© 2022 The Author(s).

JTD Keywords: bilayer, curvature, diffusion-coefficients, identification, membrane-scission, phase-diagram, reveals, sorting complex, structural basis, Biophysics, Biotechnology, Cell biology, Giant vesicles, Membranes


De Corato, M, Arroyo, M, (2022). A theory for the flow of chemically responsive polymer solutions: Equilibrium and shear-induced phase separation Journal Of Rheology 66, 813-835

Chemically responsive polymers are macromolecules that respond to local variations of the chemical composition of the solution by changing their conformation, with notable examples including polyelectrolytes, proteins, and DNA. The polymer conformation changes can occur in response to changes in the pH, the ionic strength, or the concentration of a generic solute that interacts with the polymer. These chemical stimuli can lead to drastic variations of the polymer flexibility and even trigger a transition from a coil to a globule polymer conformation. In many situations, the spatial distribution of the chemical stimuli can be highly inhomogeneous, which can lead to large spatial variations of polymer conformation and of the rheological properties of the mixture. In this paper, we develop a theory for the flow of a mixture of solute and chemically responsive polymers. The approach is valid for generic flows and inhomogeneous distributions of polymers and solutes. To model the polymer conformation changes introduced by the interactions with the solute, we consider the polymers as linear elastic dumbbells whose spring stiffness depends on the solute concentration. We use Onsager's variational formalism to derive the equations governing the evolution of the variables, which unveils novel couplings between the distribution of dumbbells and that of the solute. Finally, we use a linear stability analysis to show that the governing equations predict an equilibrium phase separation and a distinct shear-induced phase separation whereby a homogeneous distribution of solute and dumbbells spontaneously demix. Similar phase transitions have been observed in previous experiments using stimuli-responsive polymers and may play an important role in living systems. (C) 2022 The Society of Rheology.

JTD Keywords: Coil-globule transition, Constitutive equation, Dilute-solutions, Dumbbell model, Dynamics, Macromolecules, Nonequilibrium thermodynamics, Polyelectrolytes, Polymer migration, Polymer phase separation, Polymers, Predictions, Rheology, Shear-induced phase separation, Solute-polymer interactions, Stress, Viscoelasticity


Checa, M, Jin, X, Millan-Solsona, R, Neumayer, SM, Susner, MA, McGuire, MA, O'Hara, A, Gomila, G, Maksymovych, P, Pantelides, ST, Collins, L, (2022). Revealing Fast Cu-Ion Transport and Enhanced Conductivity at the CuInP2S6?In4/3P2S6 Heterointerface Acs Nano 16, 15347-15357

Van der Waals layered ferroelectrics, such as CuInP2S6 (CIPS), offer a versatile platform for miniaturization of ferroelectric device technologies. Control of the targeted composition and kinetics of CIPS synthesis enables the formation of stable self-assembled heterostructures of ferroelectric CIPS and nonferroelectric In4/3P2S6 (IPS). Here, we use quantitative scanning probe microscopy methods combined with density functional theory (DFT) to explore in detail the nanoscale variability in dynamic functional properties of the CIPS-IPS heterostructure. We report evidence of fast ionic transport which mediates an appreciable out-of-plane electromechanical response of the CIPS surface in the paraelectric phase. Further, we map the nanoscale dielectric and ionic conductivity properties as we thermally stimulate the ferroelectric-paraelectric phase transition, recovering the local dielectric behavior during this phase transition. Finally, aided by DFT, we reveal a substantial and tunable conductivity enhancement at the CIPS/IPS interface, indicating the possibility of engineering its interfacial properties for next generation device applications.

JTD Keywords: copper indium thiophosphate, diffusion, elastic band method, ferroelectrics, ionic conductor, migration, nanoscale, phase transition, piezoresponse force microscopy, scanning dielectric microscopy, transition, Copper indium thiophosphate, Initio molecular-dynamics, Scanning dielectric microscopy


Seuma, M, Bolognesi, B, (2022). Understanding and evolving prions by yeast multiplexed assays Current Opinion In Genetics & Development 75, 101941

Yeast genetics made it possible to derive the first fundamental insights into prion composition, conformation, and propagation. Fast-forward 30 years and the same model organism is now proving an extremely powerful tool to comprehensively explore the impact of mutations in prion sequences on their function, toxicity, and physical properties. Here, we provide an overview of novel multiplexed strategies where deep mutagenesis is combined to a range of tailored selection assays in yeast, which are particularly amenable for investigating prions and prion-like sequences. By mimicking evolution in a flask, these multiplexed approaches are revealing mechanistic insights on the consequences of prion self-assembly, while also reporting on the structure prion sequences adopt in vivo.Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: aggregation, appearance, domains, inheritance, mutations, nucleation, physical basis, propagation, protein, Phase-separation


Sole-Marti, X, Vilella, T, Labay, C, Tampieri, F, Ginebra, MP, Canal, C, (2022). Thermosensitive hydrogels to deliver reactive species generated by cold atmospheric plasma: a case study with methylcellulose Biomaterials Science 10, 3845-3855

Hydrogels have been recently proposed as suitable materials to generate reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) upon gas-plasma treatment, and postulated as promising alternatives to conventional cancer therapies. Acting as delivery vehicles that allow a controlled release of RONS to the diseased site, plasma-treated hydrogels can overcome some of the limitations presented by plasma-treated liquids in in vivo therapies. In this work, we optimized the composition of a methylcellulose (MC) hydrogel to confer it with the ability to form a gel at physiological temperatures while remaining in the liquid phase at room temperature to allow gas-plasma treatment with suitable formation of plasma-generated RONS. MC hydrogels demonstrated the capacity for generation, prolonged storage and release of RONS. This release induced cytotoxic effects on the osteosarcoma cancer cell line MG-63, reducing its cell viability in a dose-response manner. These promising results postulate plasma-treated thermosensitive hydrogels as good candidates to provide local anticancer therapies.

JTD Keywords: Cellulose, Phase-separation, Stability, Substituent, Thermoreversible gelation


Sans, J, Arnau, M, Roa, JJ, Turon, P, Alernan, C, (2022). Tailorable Nanoporous Hydroxyapatite Scaffolds for Electrothermal Catalysis Acs Applied Nano Materials 5, 8526-8536

Polarized hydroxyapatite (HAp) scaffolds with customized architecture at the nanoscale have been presented as a green alternative to conventional catalysts used for carbon and dinitrogen fixation. HAp printable inks with controlled nanoporosity and rheological properties have been successfully achieved by incorporating Pluronic hydrogel. Nanoporous scaffolds with good mechanical properties, as demonstrated by means of the nanoindentation technique, have been obtained by a sintering treatment and the posterior thermally induced polarization process. Their catalytic activity has been evaluated by considering three different key reactions (all in the presence of liquid water): (1) the synthesis of amino acids from gas mixtures of N-2, CO2, and CH4; (2) the production of ethanol from gas mixtures of CO2 and CH4; and (3) the synthesis of ammonia from N-2 gas. Comparison of the yields obtained by using nanoporous and nonporous (conventional) polarized HAp catalysts shows that both the nanoporosity and water absorption capacity of the former represent a drawback when the catalytic reaction requires auxiliary coating layers, as for example for the production of amino acids. This is because the surface nanopores achieved by incorporating Pluronic hydrogel are completely hindered by such auxiliary coating layers. On the contrary, the catalytic activity improves drastically for reactions in which the HAp-based scaffolds with enhanced nanoporosity are used as catalysts. More specifically, the carbon fixation from CO2 and CH4 to yield ethanol improves by more than 3000% when compared with nonporous HAp catalyst. Similarly, the synthesis of ammonia by dinitrogen fixation increases by more than 2000%. Therefore, HAp catalysts based on nanoporous scaffolds exhibit an extraordinary potential for scalability and industrial utilization for many chemical reactions, enabling a feasible green chemistry alternative to catalysts based on heavy metals.

JTD Keywords: Amino acids, Amino-acids, Ammonium production, Bone, Carbon fixation, Composites, Constitutive phases, Decarbonization, Dinitrogen, Ditrogen fixation, Elastic-modulus, Electrophotosynthesis, Ethanol production, Hardness, Indentation, Nanoindentation, Pluronic hydrogel, Polarized hydroxyapatite


Sans, J, Arnau, M, Turon, P, Alemán, C, (2022). Permanently polarized hydroxyapatite, an outstanding catalytic material for carbon and nitrogen fixation Materials Horizons 9, 1566-1576

Permanently polarized hydroxyapatite is a new material with electrical enhanced properties. This review discusses the advances in this material in terms of structure, properties and catalytic activity of green processes.

JTD Keywords: ammonia, bone, copper hydroxyapatite, electrophotosynthesis, nanoparticles, oxidation, phase-transition, reduction, Amino-acids


Montero, J, Haq, R, (2022). Adapted to Survive: Targeting Cancer Cells with BH3 Mimetics Cancer Discovery 12, 1217-1232

A hallmark of cancer is cell death evasion, underlying suboptimal responses to chemotherapy, targeted agents, and immunotherapies. The approval of the anti apoptotic BCL2 antagonist venetoclax has fi nally validated the potential of targeting apoptotic pathways in patients with cancer. Nevertheless, pharmacologic modulators of cell death have shown markedly varied responses in preclinical and clinical studies. Here, we review emerging concepts in the use of this class of therapies. Building on these observations, we propose that treatment-induced changes in apoptotic dependency, rather than pretreatment dependencies, will need to be recognized and targeted to realize the precise deployment of these new pharmacologic agents. Signifi cance: Targeting antiapoptotic family members has proven effi cacious and tolerable in some cancers, but responses are infrequent, particularly for patients with solid tumors. Biomarkers to aid patient selection have been lacking. Precision functional approaches that overcome adaptive resistance to these compounds could drive durable responses to chemotherapy, targeted therapy, and immunotherapies.

JTD Keywords: Anti-apoptotic mcl-1, Bcl-x-l, Bim expression, Chemotherapy sensitivity, Combination strategies, Family proteins, Multiple-myeloma, Oblimersen sodium, Phase-i, Venetoclax resistance


Espinoso, A, Andrzejak, RG, (2022). Phase irregularity: A conceptually simple and efficient approach to characterize electroencephalographic recordings from epilepsy patients Physical Review e 105, 34212

The severe neurological disorder epilepsy affects almost 1% of the world population. For patients who suffer from pharmacoresistant focal-onset epilepsy, electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings are essential for the localization of the brain area where seizures start. Apart from the visual inspection of the recordings, quantitative EEG signal analysis techniques proved to be useful for this purpose. Among other features, regularity versus irregularity and phase coherence versus phase independence allowed characterizing brain dynamics from the measured EEG signals. Can phase irregularities also characterize brain dynamics? To address this question, we use the univariate coefficient of phase velocity variation, defined as the ratio of phase velocity standard deviation and the mean phase velocity. Beyond that, as a bivariate measure we use the classical mean phase coherence to quantify the degree of phase locking. All phase-based measures are combined with surrogates to test null hypotheses about the dynamics underlying the signals. In the first part of our analysis, we use the Rössler model system to study our approach under controlled conditions. In the second part, we use the Bern-Barcelona EEG database which consists of focal and nonfocal signals extracted from seizure-free recordings. Focal signals are recorded from brain areas where the first seizure EEG signal changes can be detected, and nonfocal signals are recorded from areas that are not involved in the seizure at its onset. Our results show that focal signals have less phase variability and more phase coherence than nonfocal signals. Once combined with surrogates, the mean phase velocity proved to have the highest discriminative power between focal and nonfocal signals. In conclusion, conceptually simple and easy to compute phase-based measures can help to detect features induced by epilepsy from EEG signals. This holds not only for the classical mean phase coherence but even more so for univariate measures of phase irregularity. © 2022 American Physical Society.

JTD Keywords: brain, entropy, epileptogenic networks, functional connectivity, hilbert transform, seizure onset, surrogate data, synchronization, time-series, Biomedical signal processing, Brain areas, Brain dynamics, Dynamics, Electroencephalographic signals, Electroencephalography, Electrophysiology, Intracranial eeg signals, Localisation, Neurological disorders, Neurology, Phase based, Phase coherence, Signal detection, Simple++, Univariate, Velocity, World population


Zeinali, R, del Valle, LJ, Franco, L, Yousef, I, Rintjema, J, Aleman, C, Bravo, F, Kleij, AW, Puiggali, J, (2022). Biobased Terpene Derivatives: Stiff and Biocompatible Compounds to Tune Biodegradability and Properties of Poly(butylene succinate) Polymers 14, 161

Different copolymers incorporating terpene oxide units (e.g., limonene oxide) have been evaluated considering thermal properties, degradability, and biocompatibility. Thus, polycarbonates and polyesters derived from aromatic, monocyclic and bicyclic anhydrides have been considered. Furthermore, ring substitution with myrcene terpene has been evaluated. All polymers were amorphous when evaluated directly from synthesis. However, spherulites could be observed after the slow evaporation of diluted chloroform solutions of polylimonene carbonate, with all isopropene units possessing an R configuration. This feature was surprising considering the reported information that suggested only the racemic polymer was able to crystallize. All polymers were thermally stable and showed a dependence of the maximum degradation rate temperature (from 242 °C to 342 °C) with the type of terpene oxide. The graduation of glass transition temperatures (from 44 °C to 172 °C) was also observed, being higher than those corresponding to the unsubstituted polymers. The chain stiffness of the studied polymers hindered both hydrolytic and enzymatic degradation while a higher rate was detected when an oxidative medium was assayed (e.g., weight losses around 12% after 21 days of exposure). All samples were biocompatible according to the adhesion and proliferation tests performed with fibroblast cells. Hydrophobic and mechanically consistent films (i.e., contact angles between 90° and 110°) were obtained after the evaporation of chloroform from the solutions, having different ratios of the studied biobased polyterpenes and poly(butylene succinate) (PBS). The blend films were comparable in tensile modulus and tensile strength with the pure PBS (e.g., values of 330 MPa and 7 MPa were determined for samples incorporating 30 wt.% of poly(PA-LO), the copolyester derived from limonene oxide and phthalic anhydride. Blends were degradable, biocompatible and appropriate to produce oriented-pore and random-pore scaffolds via a thermally-induced phase separation (TIPS) method and using 1,4-dioxane as solvent. The best results were attained with the blend composed of 70 wt.% PBS and 30 wt.% poly(PA-LO). In summary, the studied biobased terpene derivatives showed promising properties to be used in a blended form for biomedical applications such as scaffolds for tissue engineering.

JTD Keywords: alternating copolymerization, biobased materials, biodegradability, composites, crystallization, cyclohexene oxide, induced phase-separation, limonene oxide, mechanical-properties, polyesters, scaffolds, spherulites, terpene derivatives, thermal properties, thermally-induced phase separation, Acetone, Bio-based, Bio-based materials, Biobased materials, Biocompatibility, Biodegradability, Butenes, Cell culture, Chlorine compounds, Degradation, Evaporation, Glass transition, Limonene oxide, Monoterpenes, Phase separation, Poly (butylenes succinate), Polybutylene succinate, Property, Ring-opening copolymerization, Scaffolds, Spheru-lites, Tensile strength, Terpene derivatives, Thermal properties, Thermally induced phase separation, Thermally-induced phase separation, Thermally?induced phase separation, Thermodynamic properties, Thermogravimetric analysis


Lozano, H, Millan-Solsona, R, Blanco-Cabra, N, Fabregas, R, Torrents, E, Gomila, G, (2021). Electrical properties of outer membrane extensions from Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 Nanoscale 13, 18754-18762

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

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


Le Roux, AL, Tozzi, C, Walani, N, Quiroga, X, Zalvidea, D, Trepat, X, Staykova, M, Arroyo, M, Roca-Cusachs, P, (2021). Dynamic mechanochemical feedback between curved membranes and BAR protein self-organization Nature Communications 12, 6550

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

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


Avalos-Padilla, Y, Georgiev, VN, Dimova, R, (2021). ESCRT-III induces phase separation in model membranes prior to budding and causes invagination of the liquid-ordered phase Biochimica Et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes 1863, 183689

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

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


Apriceno, A, Silvestro, I, Girelli, A, Francolini, I, Pietrelli, L, Piozzi, A, (2021). Preparation and characterization of chitosan-coated manganese-ferrite nanoparticles conjugated with laccase for environmental bioremediation Polymers 13, 1453

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

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


Guix, M, Mestre, R, Patiño, T, De Corato, M, Fuentes, J, Zarpellon, G, Sánchez, S, (2021). Biohybrid soft robots with self-stimulating skeletons Science Robotics 6, 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. Copyright © 2021 The Authors, some rights reserved;

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


Zeinali, R, del Valle, LJ, Torras, J, Puiggalí, J, (2021). Recent progress on biodegradable tissue engineering scaffolds prepared by thermally-induced phase separation (Tips) International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 22, 3504

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

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


Estefan, DP, Zucca, R, Arsiwalla, X, Principe, A, Zhang, H, Rocamora, R, Axmacher, N, Verschure, PFMJ, (2021). Volitional learning promotes theta phase coding in the human hippocampus Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 118, e2021238118

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

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


Minguela, J., Slawik, S., Mücklich, F., Ginebra, M. P., Llanes, L., Mas-Moruno, C., Roa, J. J., (2020). Evolution of microstructure and residual stresses in gradually ground/polished 3Y-TZP Journal of the European Ceramic Society 40, (4), 1582-1591

A comprehensive study of progressively ground/polished 3Y-TZP was performed with the aim of better understanding the mechanisms driving the microstructural modifications observed after such procedures, and identifying the processing parameters leading to optimal microstructures (i.e. ageing-protective and damage-free). Gradually ground/polished surfaces were produced, yielding four different topographies of increasing roughness (grades 1–4) and two different textures (unidirectionally, U, and multidirectionally, M). Phase transformation, microstructure and residual stresses were investigated by means of advanced characterization techniques. It was found that low-roughness mildly ground/polished specimens (i.e. 2-M/U) presented a nanometric layer with the ageing-related protective features generally associated with coarsely ground specimens. A lower limit for grain refinement in terms of surface abrasion was also found, in which partial recrystallization took place (i.e. 1-M/U). A mathematical relation was established between average surface roughness (Sa), monoclinic volume fraction (Vm) and surface compressive residual stresses, demonstrating that if the processing parameters are controlled, both Vm and residual stresses can be predicted by the measurement of Sa.

JTD Keywords: Grinding, Microstructure, Phase transformation, Residual stresses, Zirconia


Alert, R., Trepat, X., (2020). Physical models of collective cell migration Annual Review of Condensed Matter Physics 11, 77-101

Collective cell migration is a key driver of embryonic development, wound healing, and some types of cancer invasion. Here, we provide a physical perspective of the mechanisms underlying collective cell migration. We begin with a catalog of the cell-cell and cell-substrate interactions that govern cell migration, which we classify into positional and orientational interactions. We then review the physical models that have been developed to explain how these interactions give rise to collective cellular movement. These models span the subcellular to the supracellular scales, and they include lattice models, phase-field models, active network models, particle models, and continuum models. For each type of model, we discuss its formulation, its limitations, and the main emergent phenomena that it has successfully explained. These phenomena include flocking and fluid-solid transitions, as well as wetting, fingering, and mechanical waves in spreading epithelial monolayers. We close by outlining remaining challenges and future directions in the physics of collective cell migration.

JTD Keywords: Active network models, Cellular Potts models, Continuum models, Particle models, Phase-field models, Tissue biophysics


De Corato, M., Pagonabarraga, I., Abdelmohsen, L. K. E. A., Sánchez, S., Arroyo, M., (2020). Spontaneous polarization and locomotion of an active particle with surface-mobile enzymes Physical Review Fluids 5, (12), 122001

We examine a mechanism of locomotion of active particles whose surface is uniformly coated with mobile enzymes. The enzymes catalyze a reaction that drives phoretic flows but their homogeneous distribution forbids locomotion by symmetry. We find that the ability of the enzymes to migrate over the surface combined with self-phoresis can lead to a spontaneous symmetry-breaking instability whereby the homogeneous distribution of enzymes polarizes and the particle propels. The instability is driven by the advection of enzymes by the phoretic flows and occurs above a critical Péclet number. The transition to polarized motile states occurs via a supercritical or subcritical pitchfork bifurcations, the latter of which enables hysteresis and coexistence of uniform and polarized states.

JTD Keywords: Biomimetic & bio-inspired materials, Locomotion, Surface-driven phase separation


Redondo-Morata, Lorena, Losada-Pérez, Patricia, Giannotti, Marina Inés, (2020). Lipid bilayers: Phase behavior and nanomechanics Current Topics in Membranes (ed. Levitan, Irena, Trache, Andreea), Academic Press (Berlin, Germany) 86, 1-55

Lipid membranes are involved in many physiological processes like recognition, signaling, fusion or remodeling of the cell membrane or some of its internal compartments. Within the cell, they are the ultimate barrier, while maintaining the fluidity or flexibility required for a myriad of processes, including membrane protein assembly. The physical properties of in vitro model membranes as model cell membranes have been extensively studied with a variety of techniques, from classical thermodynamics to advanced modern microscopies. Here we review the nanomechanics of solid-supported lipid membranes with a focus in their phase behavior. Relevant information obtained by quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D) and atomic force microscopy (AFM) as complementary techniques in the nano/mesoscale interface is presented. Membrane morphological and mechanical characterization will be discussed in the framework of its phase behavior, phase transitions and coexistence, in simple and complex models, and upon the presence of cholesterol.

JTD Keywords: Lipid phase behavior, Phase transition, Phase coexistence, Nanomechanics, Thermodynamics, Atomic force microscopy (AFM), Quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring (QCM-D)


Grice, L. F., Gauthier, M. E. A., Roper, K. E., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Degnan, S. M., Degnan, B. M., (2017). Origin and evolution of the sponge aggregation factor gene family Molecular Biology and Evolution , 34, (5), 1083-1099

Although discriminating self from nonself is a cardinal animal trait, metazoan allorecognition genes do not appear to be homologous. Here, we characterize the Aggregation Factor (AF) gene family, which encodes putative allorecognition factors in the demosponge Amphimedon queenslandica, and trace its evolution across 24 sponge (Porifera) species. The AF locus in Amphimedon is comprised of a cluster of five similar genes that encode Calx-beta and Von Willebrand domains and a newly defined Wreath domain, and are highly polymorphic. Further AF variance appears to be generated through individualistic patterns of RNA editing. The AF gene family varies between poriferans, with protein sequences and domains diagnostic of the AF family being present in Amphimedon and other demosponges, but absent from other sponge classes. Within the demosponges, AFs vary widely with no two species having the same AF repertoire or domain organization. The evolution of AFs suggests that their diversification occurs via high allelism, and the continual and rapid gain, loss and shuffling of domains over evolutionary time. Given the marked differences in metazoan allorecognition genes, we propose the rapid evolution of AFs in sponges provides a model for understanding the extensive diversification of self-nonself recognition systems in the animal kingdom.

JTD Keywords: Aggregation factor, Allorecognition, Intron phase, Polymorphism, Porifera, RNA editing


O'Neill, R., McCarthy, H. O., Montufar, E. B., Ginebra, M. P., Wilson, D. I., Lennon, A., Dunne, N., (2017). Critical review: Injectability of calcium phosphate pastes and cements Acta Biomaterialia 50, 1-19

Calcium phosphate cements (CPC) have seen clinical success in many dental and orthopaedic applications in recent years. The properties of CPC essential for clinical success are reviewed in this article, which includes properties of the set cement (e.g. bioresorbability, biocompatibility, porosity and mechanical properties) and unset cement (e.g. setting time, cohesion, flow properties and ease of delivery to the surgical site). Emphasis is on the delivery of calcium phosphate (CaP) pastes and CPC, in particular the occurrence of separation of the liquid and solid components of the pastes and cements during injection; and established methods to reduce this phase separation. In addition a review of phase separation mechanisms observed during the extrusion of other biphasic paste systems and the theoretical models used to describe these mechanisms are discussed. Statement of Significance Occurrence of phase separation of calcium phosphate pastes and cements during injection limits their full exploitation as a bone substitute in minimally invasive surgical applications. Due to lack of theoretical understanding of the phase separation mechanism(s), optimisation of an injectable CPC that satisfies clinical requirements has proven difficult. However, phase separation of pastes during delivery has been the focus across several research fields. Therefore in addition to a review of methods to reduce phase separation of CPC and the associated constraints, a review of phase separation mechanisms observed during extrusion of other pastes and the theoretical models used to describe these mechanisms is presented. It is anticipated this review will benefit future attempts to develop injectable calcium phosphate based systems.

JTD Keywords: Bone cements, Calcium phosphates, Injectability, Material properties, Phase separation


Solà-Soler, J., Giraldo, B. F., Fiz, J. A., Jané, R., (2016). Study of phase estimation methods to analyse cardiorespiratory synchronization in OSA patients Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (EMBC) 38th Annual International Conference of the IEEE , IEEE (Orlando, USA) , 4280-4283

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder highly prevalent in the general population. Cardiorespiratory Phase Synchronization (CRPS) is a form of non-linear interaction between respiratory and cardiovascular systems that was found to be reduced in severe OSA patients. The Hilbert Transform (HT) method was the recommended choice for estimating the respiratory phase in CRPS studies. But we have noticed that HT provides a phase that is aligned to the transition between the exhalation and the inhalation parts of different breathing cycles, instead of being aligned to the breathing onsets. In this work we proposed a Realigned HT phase estimation method (RHT) and we compared it to the conventional HT and to the Linear Phase (LP) approximation for estimating CRPS in a database of 28 patients with different OSA severity levels. RHT provided similar synchronization percentages (%Sync) as HT, and it enhanced the significant differences in %Sync between mild and severe OSA patients. %Sync showed the highest negative correlation with the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) when using RHT (rAHI=-0.692, p<;0.001), which only had an 10% extra computational cost. On the other hand, LP method significantly overestimated %Sync especially in the more severe patients, because it was unable to track the phase non-linearities that can be observed during sleep disordered breathing. Therefore, the newly proposed RHT can be the preferred alternative over the conventional HT or the LP approximation for estimating CRPS in OSA patients.

JTD Keywords: Correlation, Databases, Electrocardiography, Phase estimation, Sleep apnea, Synchronization, Transforms


Arvizu-Rodríguez, L. E., Palacios-Padrós, A., Chalé-Lara, F., Fernández-Muñoz, J. L., Díez-Pérez, I., Sanz, F., Espinosa-Faller, F. J., Sandoval, J., Caballero-Briones, F., (2015). Phase and surface modification by electrochemical post deposition treatments in ultrasonic-assisted CuInSe2/Cu electrodeposited films Chalcogenide Letters , 12, (10), 537-545

CuInSe2 films were prepared onto Cu-cladded substrates by ultrasonic-assisted electrodeposition using different bath compositions and a fixed deposition potential of E=-1500 mV vs Ag/AgCl. In situ electrochemical treatments named selenization and electrocrystallization, in a Se4+ electrolyte were applied to modify the morphology, film structure and the phase composition. Films were characterized by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Raman spectroscopy and photocurrent response. A Cu2-xSe layer develops as the electrode is introduced into the electrolyte. The presence of Cu-In, In-Se, Cu-Se, cubic, hexagonal and tetragonal CuInSe2 phases as well as elemental In and Se was observed. After selenization, partial phase dissolution and Se deposition is observed and after the electrocrystallization treatment the secondary phases such as Cu-Se, Cu-In, In and Se reduce substantially and the grain sizes increase, as well as the photocurrent response. Phase diagrams are constructed for each set of films and reaction mechanisms are proposed to explain the phase evolution.

JTD Keywords: CuInSe2, Electrodeposition, In situ electrochemical treatments, Phase composition, Surface modification


Fresco-Cala, B., Jimenez-Soto, J. M., Cardenas, S., Valcarcel, M., (2014). Single-walled carbon nanohorns immobilized on a microporous hollow polypropylene fiber as a sorbent for the extraction of volatile organic compounds from water samples Microchimica Acta , 181, (9-10), 1117-1124

We have evaluated the behavior of single-walled carbon nanohorns as a sorbent for headspace and direct immersion (micro)solid phase extraction using volatile organic compounds (VOCs) as model analytes. The conical carbon nanohorns were first oxidized in order to increase their solubility in water and organic solvents. A microporous hollow polypropylene fiber served as a mechanical support that provides a high surface area for nanoparticle retention. The extraction unit was directly placed in the liquid sample or the headspace of an aqueous standard or a water sample to extract and preconcentrate the VOCs. The variables affecting extraction have been optimized. The VOCs were then identified and quantified by GC/MS. We conclude that direct immersion of the fiber is the most adequate method for the extraction of VOCs from both liquid samples and headspace. Detection limits range from 3.5 to 4.3 ng L-1 (excepted for toluene with 25 ng L-1), and the precision (expressed as relative standard deviation) is between 3.9 and 9.6 %. The method was applied to the determination of toluene, ethylbenzene, various xylene isomers and styrene in bottled, river and tap waters, and the respective average recoveries of spiked samples are 95.6, 98.2 and 86.0 %.

JTD Keywords: (Micro)solid phase extraction, Nanotechnology, Oxidized single-walled carbon nanohorns, Volatiles compounds, Waters


Karpas, Zeev, Guamán, Ana V., Calvo, Daniel, Pardo, Antonio, Marco, Santiago, (2012). The potential of ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) for detection of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (2,4,6-TCA) in wine Talanta 93, 200-205

The off-flavor of “tainted wine” is attributed mainly to the presence of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (2,4,6-TCA) in the wine. In the present study the atmospheric pressure gas-phase ion chemistry, pertaining to ion mobility spectrometry, of 2,4,6-trichloroanisole was investigated. In positive ion mode the dominant species is a monomer ion with a lower intensity dimer species with reduced mobility values (K0) of 1.58 and 1.20 cm2 V−1 s−1, respectively. In negative mode the ion with K0 = 1.64 cm2 V−1 s−1 is ascribed to a trichlorophenoxide species while the ions with K0 = 1.48 and 1.13 cm2 V−1 s−1 are attributed to chloride attachment adducts of a TCA monomer and dimer, respectively. The limit of detection of the system for 2,4,6-TCA dissolved in dichloromethane deposited on a filter paper was 2.1 ug and 1.7 ppm in the gas phase. In ethanol and in wine the limit of detection is higher implying that pre-concentration and pre-separation are required before IMS can be used to monitor the level of TCA in wine.

JTD Keywords: 2,4,6-Trichloroanisole, Gas phase ion chemistry, Ion mobility spectrometry, "Tainted wine"


Pomareda, Víctor, Guamán, Ana V., Mohammadnejad, Masoumeh, Calvo, Daniel, Pardo, Antonio, Marco, Santiago, (2012). Multivariate curve resolution of nonlinear ion mobility spectra followed by multivariate nonlinear calibration for quantitative prediction Chemometrics and Intelligent Laboratory Systems , 118, 219-229

In this work, a new methodology to analyze spectra time-series obtained from ion mobility spectrometry (IMS) has been investigated. The proposed method combines the advantages of multivariate curve resolution-alternating least squares (MCR-ALS) for an optimal physical and chemical interpretation of the system (qualitative information) and a multivariate calibration technique such as polynomial partial least squares (poly-PLS) for an improved quantification (quantitative information) of new samples. Ten different concentrations of 2-butanone and ethanol were generated using a volatile generator based on permeation tubes. The different concentrations were measured with IMS. These data present a non-linear behaviour as substance concentration increases. Although MCR-ALS is based on a bilinear decomposition, non-linear behaviour can be modelled adding new components to the model. After spectral pre-processing, MCR-ALS was applied aiming to get information about the ionic species that appear in the drift tube and their evolution with the analyte concentration. By resolving the IMS data matrix, concentration profiles and pure spectra of the different ionic species have been obtained for both analytes. Finally, poly-PLS was used in order to build a calibration model using concentration profiles obtained from MCR-ALS for ethanol and 2-butanone. The results, with more than 99% of explained variance for both substances, show the feasibility of using MCR-ALS to resolve IMS datasets. Furthermore, similar or better prediction accuracy is achieved when concentration profiles from MCR-ALS are used to build a calibration model (using poly-PLS) compared to other standard univariate and multivariate calibration methodologies.

JTD Keywords: Ion Mobility Spectrometry, Multivariate Curve Resolution, Gas phase ion chemistry, Multivariate calibration


Garrido-Delgado, R., Arce, L., Guaman, A. V., Pardo, A., Marco, S., Valcárcel, M., (2011). Direct coupling of a gas-liquid separator to an Ion Mobility Spectrometer for the classification of different white wines using chemometrics tools Talanta 84, (2), 471-479

The potential of a vanguard technique as is the Ion Mobility Spectrometry with Ultraviolet ionization (UV-IMS) coupled to a Continuous Flow System (CFS) have been demonstrated in this work by using a Gas Phase Separator (GPS). This vanguard system (CFS-GPS-UV-IMS) has been used for the analysis of different types of white wines to obtain a characteristic profile for each type of wine and their posterior classification using different chemometric tools. Precision of the method was 3.1% expressed as relative standard deviation. A deep chemometric study was carried out for the classification of the four types of wines selected. The best classification performance was obtained by first reducing the data dimensionality by Principal Component Analysis (PCA) followed by Linear Discriminant Analysis (LDA) and finally using a K-Nearest Neighbour (kNN) classifier. The classification rate in an independent validation set were 92.0% classification rate value with confidence interval [89.0%, 95.0%] at P = 0.05 confidence level. The same white wines analyzed by using CFS-GPS-UV-IMS were analyzed by using Gas Chromatography with a Flame Detector (GC-FID) as conventional technique. The chromatographic method used for the determination of superior alcohols in wine samples shown in the Regulation CEE 1238/1992 was selected to carry out the analysis of the same samples set and later the classification using appropriate chemometric tools. In this case, strategies PCA-LDA and kNN classifier were also used for the correct classification of the wine samples. This combination showed similar results to the ones obtained with the proposed method.

JTD Keywords: Classification, White wines, Ultraviolet-Ion Mobility Spectrometry, Gas Phase Separate, Vanguard method, Continuous Flow System, Chemometric analysis.


Messeguer, J., Masip, I., Montolio, M., del Rio, J. A., Soriano, E., Messeguer, A., (2010). Peptoids bearing tertiary amino residues in the n-alkyl side chains: synthesis of a potent inhibitor of Semaphorin 3A Tetrahedron , 66, (13), 2444-2454

A study on the preparation of N-alkylglycines (peptoids) that contain tertiary amino residues on the N-alkyl side chains is reported. The appropriate combination of the submonomer strategy with N-alkylglycine monomer couplings depending upon the structure of the N-alkyl side chain that must be incorporated into the peptoid is determinant for the efficiency of the synthetic pathway. The application of this strategy to the preparation of SICHI, an N-alkyglycine trimer containing tertiary amino residues in the three N-alkyl branches, and that has been identified as a potent Semaphorin 3A inhibitor, is presented.

JTD Keywords: Peptoids, N-Alkylglycine monomers, Solid-phase synthesis, Semaphorin inhibition, Axonal regeneration


Roca-Cusachs, P., Alcaraz, J., Sunyer, R., Samitier, J., Farre, R., Navajas, D., (2008). Micropatterning of single endothelial cell shape reveals a tight coupling between nuclear volume in G1 and proliferation Biophysical Journal , 94, (12), 4984-4995

Shape-dependent local differentials in cell proliferation are considered to be a major driving mechanism of structuring processes in vivo, such as embryogenesis, wound healing, and angiogenesis. However, the specific biophysical signaling by which changes in cell shape contribute to cell cycle regulation remains poorly understood. Here, we describe our study of the roles of nuclear volume and cytoskeletal mechanics in mediating shape control of proliferation in single endothelial cells. Micropatterned adhesive islands were used to independently control cell spreading and elongation. We show that, irrespective of elongation, nuclear volume and apparent chromatin decondensation of cells in G1 systematically increased with cell spreading and highly correlated with DNA synthesis (percent of cells in the S phase). In contrast, cell elongation dramatically affected the organization of the actin cytoskeleton, markedly reduced both cytoskeletal stiffness (measured dorsally with atomic force microscopy) and contractility (measured ventrally with traction microscopy), and increased mechanical anisotropy, without affecting either DNA synthesis or nuclear volume. Our results reveal that the nuclear volume in G1 is predictive of the proliferative status of single endothelial cells within a population, whereas cell stiffness and contractility are not. These findings show that the effects of cell mechanics in shape control of proliferation are far more complex than a linear or straightforward relationship. Our data are consistent with a mechanism by which spreading of cells in G1 partially enhances proliferation by inducing nuclear swelling and decreasing chromatin condensation, thereby rendering DNA more accessible to the replication machinery.

JTD Keywords: Cell Line, Cell Nucleus/ physiology, Cell Proliferation, Cell Size, Computer Simulation, Endothelial Cells/ cytology/ physiology, G1 Phase/ physiology, Humans, Mechanotransduction, Cellular/ physiology, Models, Biological, Statistics as Topic


Domènech, Ò., Morros, A., Cabañas, M. E., Teresa Montero, M., Hernéndez-Borrell, J., (2007). Supported planar bilayers from hexagonal phases Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes , 1768, (1), 100-106

In this work the presence of inverted hexagonal phases HII of 1-palmitoy-2-oleoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphoethanolamine (POPE) and cardiolipin (CL) (0.8:0.2, mol/mol) in the presence of Ca2+ were observed via 31P-NMR spectroscopy. When suspensions of the same composition were extended onto mica, HII phases transformed into structures which features are those of supported planar bilayers (SPBs). When characterized by atomic force microscopy (AFM), the SPBs revealed the existence of two laterally segregated domains (the interdomain height being ∼ 1 nm). Cytochrome c (cyt c), which binds preferentially to acidic phospholipids like CL, was used to demonstrate the nature of the domains. We used 1-anilinonaphtalen-8-sulfonate (ANS) to demonstrate that in the presence of cyt c, the fluorescence of ANS decreased significantly in lamellar phases. Conversely, the ANS binding to HII phases was negligible. When cyt c was injected into AFM fluid imaging cells, where SPBs of POPE:CL had previously formed poorly defined structures, protein aggregates (∼ 100 nm diameter) were ostensibly observed only on the upper domains, which suggests not only that they are mainly formed by CL, but also provides evidence of bilayer formation from HII phases. Furthermore, a model for the nanostructure of the SPBs is herein proposed.

JTD Keywords: 31P-NMR, AFM, ANS fluorescence, Cytochrome c (cyt c), Hexagonal phase (HII), Liposome, Supported planar bilayers (SPBs)