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Boda, SK, Willkomm, N, Barrera, MS, Mansky, L, Aparicio, C, (2023). Electrostatic capture of viruses on cationic biopolymer membranes for intra-oral disease sampling Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 232, 113602

Naso- and oropharyngeal swabs are the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -recommended disease sampling methods for respiratory viruses. The short swabbing time for sampling by these methods may lead to variability in test results. Further, these methods are mildly invasive and can cause discomfort, tearing or gag reflexes in tested individuals. If longer sampling time is coupled with lesser patient discomfort, test reliability and patient compliance can be improved. Towards this end, we developed cationic biopolymer membranes for the electrostatic capturing of viruses in the oral cavity. Here, chemically (EDC-NHS) crosslinked uncharged chitosan (CS) nanofiber membranes were conferred either with negative surface charge by anionic poly-aspartic acid (pAsp) coating or positive charge by cationic poly-L-lysine (PLL). Consistent with our preliminary findings of dynamic light scattering (DLS) size measurements showing large agglomerates of anionic virus-like particles (VLPs) and cationic PLL in solution, a 75% increase in VLP adsorption by PLL coated CS membranes was recorded by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), in comparison to untreated controls. It is envisaged that the electrostatic concentration of respiratory viruses on cationic membranes can be superior alternatives to traditional swabbing in the oral cavity.

JTD Keywords: Cationic biopolymer membranes, Disease sampling, Dynamic light scattering (dls), Electrostatic capture of viruses, Enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (elisa), Magnetic beads, Virus -like particles (vlps)


Pérez-Domínguez, S, Kulkarni, SG, Pabijan, J, Gnanachandran, K, Holuigue, H, Eroles, M, Lorenc, E, Berardi, M, Antonovaite, N, Marini, ML, Alonso, JL, Redonto-Morata, L, Dupres, V, Janel, S, Acharya, S, Otero, J, Navajas, D, Bielawski, K, Schillers, H, Lafont, F, Rico, F, Podestà, A, Radmacher, M, Lekka, M, (2023). Reliable, standardized measurements for cell mechanical properties Nanoscale 15, 16371-16380

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) has become indispensable for studying biological and medical samples. More than two decades of experiments have revealed that cancer cells are softer than healthy cells (for measured cells cultured on stiff substrates). The softness or, more precisely, the larger deformability of cancer cells, primarily independent of cancer types, could be used as a sensitive marker of pathological changes. The wide application of biomechanics in clinics would require designing instruments with specific calibration, data collection, and analysis procedures. For these reasons, such development is, at present, still very limited, hampering the clinical exploitation of mechanical measurements. Here, we propose a standardized operational protocol (SOP), developed within the EU ITN network Phys2BioMed, which allows the detection of the biomechanical properties of living cancer cells regardless of the nanoindentation instruments used (AFMs and other indenters) and the laboratory involved in the research. We standardized the cell cultures, AFM calibration, measurements, and data analysis. This effort resulted in a step-by-step SOP for cell cultures, instrument calibration, measurements, and data analysis, leading to the concordance of the results (Young's modulus) measured among the six EU laboratories involved. Our results highlight the importance of the SOP in obtaining a reproducible mechanical characterization of cancer cells and paving the way toward exploiting biomechanics for diagnostic purposes in clinics.

JTD Keywords: afm indentation, cancer cells, elastic-moduli, samples, stiffness, Atomic-force microscopy


Costa, Rui R, Caballero, David, Soares da Costa, Diana, Rodriguez-Trujillo, Romen, Kundu, Subhas C, Reis, Rui L, Pashkuleva, Iva, (2023). Microfluidic-Assisted Interfacial Complexation of Extracellular Matrix Components to Mimic the Properties of Neural Tissues Advanced Materials Technologies 8, 2300983

Anisotropy is an important cue for neural organization during morphogenesis and healing, contributing to the mechanical and functional properties of neural tissues. The ability to replicate such anisotropy in vitro holds great promise for the development of effective regeneration strategies. In this work, interfacial polyelectrolyte complexation (IPC) is applied to fabricate microfibers from charged ECM components without any chemical modification. Using flow-focusing microfluidics, collagen (Col) and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), such as chondroitin sulfate (CS) or heparin (Hep), form Col/CS and Col/Hep interfacial complexes that coalesce as IPC microfibers. These fibers are flexible and absorb large amounts of water but remain stable under physiological conditions. At these conditions, the tensile strength of the assembled Col/GAG microfibers is similar to the strength of the neural tissue. The fibers are biocompatible and biofunctional; PC12 neural cells adhere and orient longitudinally to the fibers. Moreover, Col/CS microfibers promote the formation of neural processes. The results demonstrate that the microfluidic-assisted IPC complexation enables the assembly of ECM mimics by synergetic integration of anisotropic, chemical, and mechanical cues that boost the development of neural cells.

JTD Keywords: Cells, Chondroitin sulfate, Collagen, Fibers, Glycosaminoglycans, Heparin, Microfibers


Madrid-Gambin, F, Oller, S, Marco, S, Pozo, OJ, Andres-Lacueva, C, Llorach, R, (2023). Quantitative plasma profiling by 1H NMR-based metabolomics: impact of sample treatment Frontiers In Molecular Biosciences 10, 1125582

Introduction: There is evidence that sample treatment of blood-based biosamples may affect integral signals in nuclear magnetic resonance-based metabolomics. The presence of macromolecules in plasma/serum samples makes investigating low-molecular-weight metabolites challenging. It is particularly relevant in the targeted approach, in which absolute concentrations of selected metabolites are often quantified based on the area of integral signals. Since there are a few treatments of plasma/serum samples for quantitative analysis without a universally accepted method, this topic remains of interest for future research. Methods: In this work, targeted metabolomic profiling of 43 metabolites was performed on pooled plasma to compare four methodologies consisting of Carr-Purcell-Meiboom-Gill (CPMG) editing, ultrafiltration, protein precipitation with methanol, and glycerophospholipid solid-phase extraction (g-SPE) for phospholipid removal; prior to NMR metabolomics analysis. The effect of the sample treatments on the metabolite concentrations was evaluated using a permutation test of multiclass and pairwise Fisher scores. Results: Results showed that methanol precipitation and ultrafiltration had a higher number of metabolites with coefficient of variation (CV) values above 20%. G-SPE and CPMG editing demonstrated better precision for most of the metabolites analyzed. However, differential quantification performance between procedures were metabolite-dependent. For example, pairwise comparisons showed that methanol precipitation and CPMG editing were suitable for quantifying citrate, while g-SPE showed better results for 2-hydroxybutyrate and tryptophan. Discussion: There are alterations in the absolute concentration of various metabolites that are dependent on the procedure. Considering these alterations is essential before proceeding with the quantification of treatment-sensitive metabolites in biological samples for improving biomarker discovery and biological interpretations. The study demonstrated that g-SPE and CPMG editing are effective methods for removing proteins and phospholipids from plasma samples for quantitative NMR analysis of metabolites. However, careful consideration should be given to the specific metabolites of interest and their susceptibility to the sample treatment procedures. These findings contribute to the development of optimized sample preparation protocols for metabolomics studies using NMR spectroscopy.Copyright © 2023 Madrid-Gambin, Oller, Marco, Pozo, Andres-Lacueva and Llorach.

JTD Keywords: binding, h-1-nmr spectroscopy, human serum, lactate, metabolites, nuclear magnetic resonance, plasma, protein, quantification, quantitative analysis, sample treatment, Metabolomics, Nuclear magnetic resonance, Nuclear-magnetic-resonance, Plasma, Quantification, Quantitative analysis, Sample treatment


Roman-Alamo, L, Allaw, M, Avalos-Padilla, Y, Manca, ML, Manconi, M, Fulgheri, F, Fernandez-Lajo, J, Rivas, L, Vazquez, JA, Peris, JE, Roca-Gerones, X, Poonlaphdecha, S, Alcover, MM, Fisa, R, Riera, C, Fernandez-Busquets, X, (2023). In Vitro Evaluation of Aerosol Therapy with Pentamidine-Loaded Liposomes Coated with Chondroitin Sulfate or Heparin for the Treatment of Leishmaniasis Pharmaceutics 15, 1163

The second-line antileishmanial compound pentamidine is administered intramuscularly or, preferably, by intravenous infusion, with its use limited by severe adverse effects, including diabetes, severe hypoglycemia, myocarditis and renal toxicity. We sought to test the potential of phospholipid vesicles to improve the patient compliance and efficacy of this drug for the treatment of leishmaniasis by means of aerosol therapy. The targeting to macrophages of pentamidine-loaded liposomes coated with chondroitin sulfate or heparin increased about twofold (up to ca. 90%) relative to noncoated liposomes. The encapsulation of pentamidine in liposomes ameliorated its activity on the amastigote and promastigote forms of Leishmania infantum and Leishmania pifanoi, and it significantly reduced cytotoxicity on human umbilical endothelial cells, for which the concentration inhibiting 50% of cell viability was 144.2 ± 12.7 µM for pentamidine-containing heparin-coated liposomes vs. 59.3 ± 4.9 µM for free pentamidine. The deposition of liposome dispersions after nebulization was evaluated with the Next Generation Impactor, which mimics human airways. Approximately 53% of total initial pentamidine in solution reached the deeper stages of the impactor, with a median aerodynamic diameter of ~2.8 µm, supporting a partial deposition on the lung alveoli. Upon loading pentamidine in phospholipid vesicles, its deposition in the deeper stages significantly increased up to ~68%, and the median aerodynamic diameter decreased to a range between 1.4 and 1.8 µm, suggesting a better aptitude to reach the deeper lung airways in higher amounts. In all, nebulization of liposome-encapsulated pentamidine improved the bioavailability of this neglected drug by a patient-friendly delivery route amenable to self-administration, paving the way for the treatment of leishmaniasis and other infections where pentamidine is active.

JTD Keywords: aerosol therapy, delivery-systems, drug encapsulation, drugs, ex-vivo models, formulation, leishmania infantum, leishmania pifanoi, leishmaniasis, liposomes, macrophages, miltefosine, pentamidine, pharmacology, pulmonary absorption, visceral leishmaniasis, Amphotericin-b treatment, Leishmania infantum, Pentamidine


Andrade, F, Roca-Melendres, MM, Llaguno, M, Hide, D, Raurell, I, Martell, M, Vijayakumar, S, Oliva, M, Schwartz, S, Duran-Lara, EF, Rafael, D, Abasolo, I, (2022). Smart and eco-friendly N-isopropylacrylamide and cellulose hydrogels as a safe dual-drug local cancer therapy approach Carbohydrate Polymers 295, 119859

Local cancer treatment by in situ injections of thermo-responsive hydrogels (HG) offers several advantages over conventional systemic anti-cancer treatments. In this work, a biodegradable and multicompartmental HG composed of N-isopropylacrylamide, cellulose, citric acid, and ceric ammonium nitrate was developed for the controlled release of hydrophilic (doxorubicin) and hydrophobic (niclosamide) drugs. The formulation presented ideal properties regarding thermo-responsiveness, rheological behavior, drug release profile, biocompatibility, and biological activity in colon and ovarian cancer cells. Cellulose was found to retard drugs release rate, being only 4 % of doxorubicin and 30 % of niclosamide released after 1 week. This low release was sufficient to cause cell death in both cell lines. Moreover, HG demonstrated a proper injectability, in situ prevalence, and safety profile in vivo. Overall, the HG properties, together with its natural and eco-friendly composition, create a safe and efficient platform for the local treatment of non-resectable tumors or tumors requiring pre-surgical adjuvant therapy.

JTD Keywords: biodegradable, cellulose, controlled-release formulation, drug delivery systems, hydrogel, thermo-responsiveness, Ammonium-nitrate, Biodegradable, Cancer treatment, Cellulose, Controlled-release formulation, Delivery, Drug delivery systems, Hydrogel, Reduce, Thermo-responsiveness


Azagra, M, Pose, E, De Chiara, F, Perez, M, Avitabile, E, Servitja, JM, Brugnara, L, Ramon-Azcón, J, Marco-Rius, I, (2022). Ammonium quantification in human plasma by proton nuclear magnetic resonance for staging of liver fibrosis in alcohol-related liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Nmr In Biomedicine 35, e4745

Liver fibrosis staging is a key element driving the prognosis of patients with chronic liver disease. Currently, biopsy is the only technique capable of diagnosing liver fibrosis in patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ArLD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) unequivocally. Non-invasive (e.g. plasma-based) biomarker assays are attractive tools to diagnose and stage disease, yet must prove that they are reliable and sensitive to be used clinically. Here we demonstrate 1 H nuclear magnetic resonance as a method to rapidly quantify the endogenous concentration of ammonium ions from human plasma extracts and show their ability to report upon early and advanced stages of ArLD and NAFLD. We show that, irrespective of the disease aetiology, ammonium concentration is a more robust and informative marker of fibrosis stage than current clinically assessed blood hepatic biomarkers. Subject to validation in larger cohorts, the study indicates that the method can provide accurate and rapid staging of ArLD and NAFLD without need for an invasive biopsy.This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords: ammonium quantification, blood biomarkers, chronic liver disease, disease biomarkers, hepatic dysfunction, nmr, pathogenesis, Ammonium quantification, Hepatic dysfunction, Hepatic-encephalopathy


Perez-Madrigala, MM, Gilb, AM, Casanovas, J, Jimenez, AI, Macor, LP, Aleman, C, (2022). Self-assembly pathways in a triphenylalanine peptide capped with aromatic groups Colloids And Surfaces B-Biointerfaces 216, 112522

Peptide derivatives and, most specifically, their self-assembled supramolecular structures are being considered in the design of novel biofunctional materials. Although the self-assembly of triphenylalanine homopeptides has been found to be more versatile than that of homopeptides containing an even number of residues (i.e. diphe-nylalanine and tetraphenylalanine), only uncapped triphenylalanine (FFF) and a highly aromatic analog blocked at both the N-and C-termini with fluorenyl-containing groups (Fmoc-FFF-OFm), have been deeply studied before. In this work, we have examined the self-assembly of a triphenylalanine derivative bearing 9-fluorenylme-thyloxycarbonyl and benzyl ester end-capping groups at the N-and C-termini, respectively (Fmoc-FFF-OBzl). The antiparallel arrangement clearly dominates in beta-sheets formed by Fmoc-FFF-OBzl, whereas the parallel and antiparallel dispositions are almost isoenergetic in Fmoc-FFF-OFm beta-sheets and the parallel one is slightly favored for FFF. The effects of both the peptide concentration and the mediu m on the self-assembly process have been examined considering Fmoc-FFF-OBzl solutions in a wide variety of solvent:co-solvent mixtures. In addi-tion, Fmoc-FFF-OBzl supramolecular structures have been compared to those obtained for FFF and Fmoc-FFF-OFm under identical experimental conditions. The strength of pi-pi stacking interactions involving the end-capping groups plays a crucial role in the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures, which de-termines the resulting morphology. Finally, the influence of a non-invasive external stimulus, ultrasounds, on the nucleation and growth of supramolecular structures has been examined. Overall, FFF-based peptides provide a wide range of supramolecular structures that can be of interest in the biotechnological field.

JTD Keywords: aromatic interactions, beta-sheet, hierarchical structures, phenylalanine homopeptides, supramolecular structures, Amino-acids, Aromatic interactions, Beta-sheet, Fmoc, Hierarchical struc tures, Hydrogels, Phenylalanine homopeptides, Solvent, Spectroscopy, Supramolecular structures, Triphenylalanine


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


Narciso, M, Ulldemolins, A, Junior, C, Otero, J, Navajas, D, Farré, R, Gavara, N, Almendros, I, (2022). Novel Decellularization Method for Tissue Slices Frontiers In Bioengineering And Biotechnology 10, 832178

Decellularization procedures have been developed and optimized for the entire organ or tissue blocks, by either perfusion of decellularizing agents through the tissue’s vasculature or submerging large sections in decellularizing solutions. However, some research aims require the analysis of native as well as decellularized tissue slices side by side, but an optimal protocol has not yet been established to address this need. Thus, the main goal of this work was to develop a fast and efficient decellularization method for tissue slices—with an emphasis on lung—while attached to a glass slide. To this end, different decellularizing agents were compared for their effectiveness in cellular removal while preserving the extracellular matrix. The intensity of DNA staining was taken as an indicator of remaining cells and compared to untreated sections. The presence of collagen, elastin and laminin were quantified using immunostaining and signal quantification. Scaffolds resulting from the optimized protocol were mechanically characterized using atomic force microscopy. Lung scaffolds were recellularized with mesenchymal stromal cells to assess their biocompatibility. Some decellularization agents (CHAPS, triton, and ammonia hydroxide) did not achieve sufficient cell removal. Sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS) was effective in cell removal (1% remaining DNA signal), but its sharp reduction of elastin signal (only 6% remained) plus lower attachment ratio (32%) singled out sodium deoxycholate (SD) as the optimal treatment for this application (6.5% remaining DNA signal), due to its higher elastin retention (34%) and higher attachment ratio (60%). Laminin and collagen were fully preserved in all treatments. The SD decellularization protocol was also successful for porcine and murine (mice and rat) lungs as well as for other tissues such as the heart, kidney, and bladder. No significant mechanical differences were found before and after sample decellularization. The resulting acellular lung scaffolds were shown to be biocompatible (98% cell survival after 72 h of culture). This novel method to decellularize tissue slices opens up new methodological possibilities to better understand the role of the extracellular matrix in the context of several diseases as well as tissue engineering research and can be easily adapted for scarce samples like clinical biopsies. Copyright © 2022 Narciso, Ulldemolins, Júnior, Otero, Navajas, Farré, Gavara and Almendros.

JTD Keywords: biocompatibility, bioscaffold recellularization, decellularization, extracellular matrix, flow, impact, lung, scaffolds, tissue slices, Ammonia, Bio-scaffolds, Biocompatibility, Biological organs, Bioscaffold recellularization, Cell removal, Cells, Collagen, Cytology, Decellularization, Dna, Dna signals, Elastin, Extracellular matrices, Extracellular matrix, Extracellular-matrix, Glycoproteins, Laminin, Lung, Mammals, Recellularization, Scaffolds (biology), Sodium deoxycholate, Sulfur compounds, Tissue, Tissue slice, Tissue slices


Valenti, S, del Valle, LJ, Romanini, M, Mitjana, M, Puiggali, J, Tamarit, JL, Macovez, R, (2022). Drug-Biopolymer Dispersions: Morphology- and Temperature- Dependent (Anti)Plasticizer Effect of the Drug and Component-Specific Johari–Goldstein Relaxations International Journal Of Molecular Sciences 23, 2456

Amorphous molecule-macromolecule mixtures are ubiquitous in polymer technology and are one of the most studied routes for the development of amorphous drug formulations. For these applications it is crucial to understand how the preparation method affects the properties of the mixtures. Here, we employ differential scanning calorimetry and broadband dielectric spectroscopy to investigate dispersions of a small-molecule drug (the Nordazepam anxiolytic) in biodegradable polylactide, both in the form of solvent-cast films and electrospun microfibres. We show that the dispersion of the same small-molecule compound can have opposite (plasticizing or antiplasticizing) effects on the segmental mobility of a biopolymer depending on preparation method, temperature, and polymer enantiomerism. We compare two different chiral forms of the polymer, namely, the enantiomeric pure, semicrystalline L-polymer (PLLA), and a random, fully amorphous copolymer containing both L and D monomers (PDLLA), both of which have lower glass transition temperature (Tg) than the drug. While the drug has a weak antiplasticizing effect on the films, consistent with its higher Tg, we find that it actually acts as a plasticizer for the PLLA microfibres, reducing their Tg by as much as 14 K at 30%-weight drug loading, namely, to a value that is lower than the Tg of fully amorphous films. The structural relaxation time of the samples similarly depends on chemical composition and morphology. Most mixtures displayed a single structural relaxation, as expected for homogeneous samples. In the PLLA microfibres, the presence of crystalline domains increases the structural relaxation time of the amorphous fraction, while the presence of the drug lowers the structural relaxation time of the (partially stretched) chains in the microfibres, increasing chain mobility well above that of the fully amorphous polymer matrix. Even fully amorphous homogeneous mixtures exhibit two distinct Johari–Goldstein relaxation processes, one for each chemical component. Our findings have important implications for the interpretation of the Johari–Goldstein process as well as for the physical stability and mechanical properties of microfibres with small-molecule additives.

JTD Keywords: amorphous pharmaceuticals, beta-relaxation, constant loss, crystallization, dielectric spectroscopy, dynamics, formulation morphology, glass transition, molecular mobility, nanofibers, polylactide, polymer enantiomerism, secondary relaxations, valium metabolite, viscous-liquids, Amorphous pharmaceuticals, Glass-transition, Secondary relaxations


Dhiman, S, Andrian, T, Gonzalez, BS, Tholen, MME, Wang, YY, Albertazzi, L, (2022). Can super-resolution microscopy become a standard characterization technique for materials chemistry? Chemical Science 13, 2152-2166

The characterization of newly synthesized materials is a cornerstone of all chemistry and nanotechnology laboratories. For this purpose, a wide array of analytical techniques have been standardized and are used routinely by laboratories across the globe. With these methods we can understand the structure, dynamics and function of novel molecular architectures and their relations with the desired performance, guiding the development of the next generation of materials. Moreover, one of the challenges in materials chemistry is the lack of reproducibility due to improper publishing of the sample preparation protocol. In this context, the recent adoption of the reporting standard MIRIBEL (Minimum Information Reporting in Bio–Nano Experimental Literature) for material characterization and details of experimental protocols aims to provide complete, reproducible and reliable sample preparation for the scientific community. Thus, MIRIBEL should be immediately adopted in publications by scientific journals to overcome this challenge. Besides current standard spectroscopy and microscopy techniques, there is a constant development of novel technologies that aim to help chemists unveil the structure of complex materials. Among them super-resolution microscopy (SRM), an optical technique that bypasses the diffraction limit of light, has facilitated the study of synthetic materials with multicolor ability and minimal invasiveness at nanometric resolution. Although still in its infancy, the potential of SRM to unveil the structure, dynamics and function of complex synthetic architectures has been highlighted in pioneering reports during the last few years. Currently, SRM is a sophisticated technique with many challenges in sample preparation, data analysis, environmental control and automation, and moreover the instrumentation is still expensive. Therefore, SRM is currently limited to expert users and is not implemented in characterization routines. This perspective discusses the potential of SRM to transition from a niche technique to a standard routine method for material characterization. We propose a roadmap for the necessary developments required for this purpose based on a collaborative effort from scientists and engineers across disciplines.

JTD Keywords: blinking, fluorophore, intramolecular spirocyclization, localization, nanoparticles, resolution limit, reveals, single-molecule fluorescence, stimulated-emission, Characterization techniques, Diffraction, Distributed computer systems, Environmental management, Information reporting, Material chemistry, Materials characterization, Minimum information, Optical reconstruction microscopy, Optical resolving power, Sample preparation, Structure dynamics, Structure functions, Super-resolution microscopy, Synthesized materials


McGill, K, Sackley, C, Godwin, J, Gavaghan, D, Ali, M, Ballester, BR, Brady, MC, (2022). Using the Barthel Index and modified Rankin Scale as Outcome Measures for Stroke Rehabilitation Trials; A Comparison of Minimum Sample Size Requirements Journal Of Stroke & Cerebrovascular Diseases 31, 106229

Underpowered trials risk inaccurate results. Recruitment to stroke rehabilitation randomised controlled trials (RCTs) is often a challenge. Statistical simulations offer an important opportunity to explore the adequacy of sample sizes in the context of specific outcome measures. We aimed to examine and compare the adequacy of stroke rehabilitation RCT sample sizes using the Barthel Index (BI) or modified Rankin Scale (mRS) as primary outcomes.We conducted computer simulations using typical experimental event rates (EER) and control event rates (CER) based on individual participant data (IPD) from stroke rehabilitation RCTs. Event rates are the proportion of participants who experienced clinically relevant improvements in the RCT experimental and control groups. We examined minimum sample size requirements and estimated the number of participants required to achieve a number needed to treat within clinically acceptable boundaries for the BI and mRS.We secured 2350 IPD (18 RCTs). For a 90% chance of statistical accuracy on the BI a rehabilitation RCT would require 273 participants per randomised group. Accurate interpretation of effect sizes would require 1000s of participants per group. Simulations for the mRS were not possible as a clinically relevant improvement was not detected when using this outcome measure.Stroke rehabilitation RCTs with large sample sizes are required for accurate interpretation of effect sizes based on the BI. The mRS lacked sensitivity to detect change and thus may be unsuitable as a primary outcome in stroke rehabilitation trials.Copyright © 2021 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

JTD Keywords:  , barthel index, design, increasing value, modified rankin scale, randomised controlled trials, recruitment, reducing waste, reliability, sample size calculations, simulations, stroke rehabilitation, Adult, Article, Barthel index, Calculation, Computer simulation, Controlled study, Effect size, Female, Human, Human experiment, Major clinical study, Male, Modified rankin scale, Numbers needed to treat, Outcome assessment, Randomised controlled trials, Randomized controlled trial, Randomized controlled-trials, Rankin scale, Recruitment, Rehabilitation, Sample size, Sample size calculations, Simulations, Stroke rehabilitation


Duro-Castano, A, Rodríguez-Arco, L, Ruiz-Pérez, L, De Pace, C, Marchello, G, Noble-Jesus, C, Battaglia, G, (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.

JTD 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


Sans, J, Sanz, V, Turon, P, Aleman, C, (2021). Enhanced CO2 Conversion into Ethanol by Permanently Polarized Hydroxyapatite through C-C Coupling Chemcatchem 13, 5025-5033

Castillo-Escario, Y, Kumru, H, Ferrer-Lluis, I, Vidal, J, Jané, R, (2021). Detection of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Patients with Spinal Cord Injury Using a Smartphone Sensors 21, 7182

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

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


Covington, JA, Marco, S, Persaud, KC, Schiffman, SS, Nagle, HT, (2021). Artificial Olfaction in the 21st Century Ieee Sensors Journal 21, 12969-12990

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

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


Badia, M, Bolognesi, B, (2021). Assembling the right type of switch: Protein condensation to signal cell death Current Opinion In Cell Biology 69, 55-61

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

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


de la Serna, E, Arias-Alpízar, K, Borgheti-Cardoso, LN, Sanchez-Cano, A, Sulleiro, E, Zarzuela, F, Bosch-Nicolau, P, Salvador, F, Molina, I, Ramírez, M, Fernàndez-Busquets, X, Sánchez-Montalvá, A, Baldrich, E, (2021). Detection of Plasmodium falciparum malaria in 1 h using a simplified enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay Analytica Chimica Acta 1152, 338254

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

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


Seras-Franzoso, J, Diaz-Riascos, ZV, Corchero, JL, González, P, Garcia-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.

JTD Keywords: alpha?galactosidase a, alpha‐galactosidase a, drug delivery, enzyme replacement therapy, fabry disease, lysosomal storage disorders, n-sulfoglucosamine sulfohydrolase, 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


Seuma, M, Faure, AJ, Badia, M, Lehner, B, Bolognesi, B, (2021). The genetic landscape for amyloid beta fibril nucleation accurately discriminates familial Alzheimer's disease mutations Elife 10, e63364

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

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


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

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

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


Rafols-de-Urquia, M., Estrada, L., Estevez-Piorno, J., Sarlabous, L., Jane, R., Torres, A., (2019). Evaluation of a wearable device to determine cardiorespiratory parameters from surface diaphragm electromyography IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 23, (5), 1964-1971

The use of wearable devices in clinical routines could reduce healthcare costs and improve the quality of assessment in patients with chronic respiratory diseases. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the capacity of a Shimmer3 wearable device to extract reliable cardiorespiratory parameters from surface diaphragm electromyography (EMGdi). Twenty healthy volunteers underwent an incremental load respiratory test whilst EMGdi was recorded with a Shimmer3 wearable device (EMGdiW). Simultaneously, a second EMGdi (EMGdiL), inspiratory mouth pressure (Pmouth) and lead-I electrocardiogram (ECG) were recorded via a standard wired laboratory acquisition system. Different cardiorespiratory parameters were extracted from both EMGdiW and EMGdiL signals: heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory muscle activity and mean frequency of EMGdi signals. Alongside these, similar parameters were also extracted from reference signals (Pmouth and ECG). High correlations were found between the data extracted from the EMGdiW and the reference signal data: heart rate (R = 0.947), respiratory rate (R = 0.940), respiratory muscle activity (R = 0.877), and mean frequency (R = 0.895). Moreover, similar increments in EMGdiW and EMGdiL activity were observed when Pmouth was raised, enabling the study of respiratory muscle activation. In summary, the Shimmer3 device is a promising and cost-effective solution for the ambulatory monitoring of respiratory muscle function in chronic respiratory diseases.

JTD Keywords: Cardiorespiratory monitoring, Chronic respiratory diseases, Fixed sample entropy, Non-invasive respiratory monitoring, Surface diaphragm electromyography, Wearable wireless device


Sarlabous, L., Estrada, L., Cerezo-Hernández, A., Leest, Sietske V. D., Torres, A., Jané, R., Duiverman, M., Garde, Ainara, (2019). Electromyography-based respiratory onset detection in COPD patients on non-invasive mechanical ventilation Entropy 21, (3), 258

To optimize long-term nocturnal non-invasive ventilation in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, surface diaphragm electromyography (EMGdi) might be helpful to detect patient-ventilator asynchrony. However, visual analysis is labor-intensive and EMGdi is heavily corrupted by electrocardiographic (ECG) activity. Therefore, we developed an automatic method to detect inspiratory onset from EMGdi envelope using fixed sample entropy (fSE) and a dynamic threshold based on kernel density estimation (KDE). Moreover, we combined fSE with adaptive filtering techniques to reduce ECG interference and improve onset detection. The performance of EMGdi envelopes extracted by applying fSE and fSE with adaptive filtering was compared to the root mean square (RMS)-based envelope provided by the EMG acquisition device. Automatic onset detection accuracy, using these three envelopes, was evaluated through the root mean square error (RMSE) between the automatic and mean visual onsets (made by two observers). The fSE-based method provided lower RMSE, which was reduced from 298 ms to 264 ms when combined with adaptive filtering, compared to 301 ms provided by the RMS-based method. The RMSE was negatively correlated with the proposed EMGdi quality indices. Following further validation, fSE with KDE, combined with adaptive filtering when dealing with low quality EMGdi, indicates promise for detecting the neural onset of respiratory drive.

JTD Keywords: Fixed sample entropy, Adaptive filtering, Root mean square, Diaphragm electromyography, Non-invasive mechanical ventilation, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


Lozano-García, M., Estrada, L., Jané, R., (2019). Performance evaluation of fixed sample entropy in myographic signals for inspiratory muscle activity estimation Entropy 21, (2), 183

Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn) has been successfully applied to myographic signals for inspiratory muscle activity estimation, attenuating interference from cardiac activity. However, several values have been suggested for fSampEn parameters depending on the application, and there is no consensus standard for optimum values. This study aimed to perform a thorough evaluation of the performance of the most relevant fSampEn parameters in myographic respiratory signals, and to propose, for the first time, a set of optimal general fSampEn parameters for a proper estimation of inspiratory muscle activity. Different combinations of fSampEn parameters were used to calculate fSampEn in both non-invasive and the gold standard invasive myographic respiratory signals. All signals were recorded in a heterogeneous population of healthy subjects and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients during loaded breathing, thus allowing the performance of fSampEn to be evaluated for a variety of inspiratory muscle activation levels. The performance of fSampEn was assessed by means of the cross-covariance of fSampEn time-series and both mouth and transdiaphragmatic pressures generated by inspiratory muscles. A set of optimal general fSampEn parameters was proposed, allowing fSampEn of different subjects to be compared and contributing to improving the assessment of inspiratory muscle activity in health and disease.

JTD Keywords: Electromyography, Fixed sample entropy, Mechanomyography, Non-invasive physiological measurements, Oesophageal electromyography, Respiratory muscle


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2018). Onset and offset estimation of the neural inspiratory time in surface diaphragm electromyography: A pilot study in healthy subjects IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics 22, (1), 67-76

This study evaluates the onset and offset of neural inspiratory time estimated from surface diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) recordings. EMGdi and airflow signals were recorded in ten healthy subjects according to two respiratory protocols based on respiratory rate (RR) increments, from 15 to 40 breaths per minute (bpm), and fractional inspiratory time (Ti/Ttot) decrements, from 0.54 to 0.18. The analysis of diaphragm electromyographic (EMGdi) signal amplitude is an alternative approach for the quantification of neural respiratory drive (NRD). The EMGdi amplitude was estimated using the fixed sample entropy computed over a 250 ms moving window of the EMGdi signal (EMGdifse). The neural onset was detected through a dynamic threshold over the EMGdifse using the kernel density estimation method, while neural offset was detected by finding when the EMGdifse had decreased to 70 % of the peak value reached during inspiration. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural onsets showed a global bias of 46 ms in the RR protocol and 22 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The Bland-Altman analysis between airflow and neural offsets reveals a global bias of 11 ms in the RR protocol and -2 ms in the Ti/Ttot protocol. The relationship between pairs of RR values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.99, Bland- Altman limits of -2.39 to 2.41 bpm, and mean bias of 0.01 bpm) and between pairs of Ti/Ttot values (Pearson’s correlation coefficient of 0.86, Bland-Altman limits of -0.11 to 0.10, and mean bias of -0.01) showed a good agreement. In conclusion, we propose a method for determining neural onset and neural offset based on non-invasive recordings of the electrical activity of the diaphragm that requires no filtering of cardiac muscle interference.

JTD Keywords: Kernel density estimation (KDE),, Surface diaphragm electromyographic,, (EMGdi) signal,, Inspiratory time,, Neural respiratory drive (NRD),, Neural inspiratory time,, Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn)


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.

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


Santander-Nelli, M., Silva, C. P., Espinoza-Vergara, J., Silva, J. F., Olguín, C. F., Cortés-Arriagada, D., Zagal, J. H., Mendizabal, F., Díez-Pérez, I., Pavez, J., (2017). Tailoring electroactive surfaces by non-template molecular assembly. Towards electrooxidation of L-cysteine Electrochimica Acta 254, 201-213

We have prepared a nanoelectrode ensemble containing vertically aligned single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) using a non-template molecular self-assembling strategy. We used a bottom-up construction approach to assemble amino functionalized SWCNTs (af-SWCNTs) in a well-defined architecture. These af-SWCNTs were linked and vertically aligned to pre-formed self-assembled monolayers of 4-MBA. A Cobalt(II) tetracarboxyphthalocyanine (Co(COOH)4Pc) complex was covalently bonded to external portion of af-SWCNTs to complete the final nanoelectrode ensemble. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and Atomic Force Microcopy (AFM) confirmed the effectiveness of the assembling steps on the gold surface starting from the Au/MBA SAMs. The system Au/4-MBA/af-SWCNTs shows an interface with large ordered array, which exhibits a high activity for the electrooxidation of L-cysteine (L-cys). Theoretical calculations suggest that the incorporation of the af-SWCNTs increased the activity of the assembly to electronic transfer and it was observed that the electrooxidation reaction is energetically favorable.

JTD Keywords: Bottom-up construction, DFT, Modified electrode, Molecular assembly, SAMs, Single walled carbon nanotube


Estrada, L., Torres, A., Sarlabous, L., Jané, R., (2017). Influence of parameter selection in fixed sample entropy of surface diaphragm electromyography for estimating respiratory activity Entropy 19, (9), 460

Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn) is a robust technique that allows the evaluation of inspiratory effort in diaphragm electromyography (EMGdi) signals, and has potential utility in sleep studies. To appropriately estimate respiratory effort, fSampEn requires the adjustment of several parameters. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the influence of the embedding dimension m, the tolerance value r, the size of the moving window, and the sampling frequency, and to establish recommendations for estimating the respiratory activity when using the fSampEn on surface EMGdi recorded for different inspiratory efforts. Values of m equal to 1 and r ranging from 0.1 to 0.64, and m equal to 2 and r ranging from 0.13 to 0.45, were found to be suitable for evaluating respiratory activity. fSampEn was less affected by window size than classical amplitude parameters. Finally, variations in sampling frequency could influence fSampEn results. In conclusion, the findings suggest the potential utility of fSampEn for estimating muscle respiratory effort in further sleep studies.

JTD Keywords: Fixed sample entropy (fSampEn), Non-invasive respiratory monitoring, Respiratory activity, Respiratory effort, Surface diaphragm electromyography


Zhao, M., Altankov, G., Grabiec, U., Bennett, M., Salmeron-Sanchez, M., Dehghani, F., Groth, T., (2016). Molecular composition of GAG-collagen I multilayers affects remodeling of terminal layers and osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells Acta Biomaterialia 41, 86-99

The effect of molecular composition of multilayers, by pairing type I collagen (Col I) with either hyaluronic acid (HA) or chondroitin sulfate (CS) was studied regarding the osteogenic differentiation of adhering human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs). Polyelectrolyte multilayer (PEM) formation was based primarily on ion pairing and on additional intrinsic cross-linking through imine bond formation with Col I replacing native by oxidized HA (oHA) or CS (oCS). Significant amounts of Col I fibrils were found on both native and oxidized CS-based PEMs, resulting in higher water contact angles and surface potential under physiological condition, while much less organized Col I was detected in either HA-based multilayers, which were more hydrophilic and negatively charged. An important finding was that hADSCs remodeled Col I at the terminal layers of PEMs by mechanical reorganization and pericellular proteolytic degradation, being more pronounced on CS-based PEMs. This was in accordance with the higher quantity of Col I deposition in this system, accompanied by more cell spreading, focal adhesions (FA) formation and significant α2β1 integrin recruitment compared to HA-based PEMs. Both CS-based PEMs caused also an increased fibronectin (FN) secretion and cell growth. Furthermore, significant calcium phosphate deposition, enhanced ALP, Col I and Runx2 expression were observed in hADSCs on CS-based PEMs, particularly on oCS-containing one. Overall, multilayer composition can be used to direct cell-matrix interactions, and hence stem cell fates showing for the first time that PEMs made of biogenic polyelectrolytes undergo significant remodeling of terminal protein layers, which seems to enable cells to form a more adequate extracellular matrix-like environment. Statement of Significance: Natural polymer derived polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) have been recently applied to adjust biomaterials to meet specific tissue demands. However, the effect of molecular composition of multilayers on both surface properties and cellular response, especially the fate of human adipose derived stem cells (hADSCs) upon osteogenic differentiation has not been studied extensively, yet. In addition, no studies exist that investigate a potential cell-dependent remodeling of PEMs made of extracellular matrix (ECM) components like collagens and glycosaminoglycans (GAGs). Furthermore, there is no knowledge whether the ability of cells to remodel PEM components may provide an added value regarding cell growth and differentiation. Finally, it has not been explored yet, how intrinsic cross-linking of ECM derived polyelectrolytes that improve the stability of PEMs will affect the differentiation potential of hADSCs. The current work aims to address these questions and found that the type of GAG has a strong effect on properties of multilayers and osteogenic differentiation of hADSCs. Additionally, we also show for the first time that PEMs made of biogenic polyelectrolytes undergo significant remodeling of terminal layers as completely new finding, which allows cells to form an ECM-like environment supporting differentiation upon osteogenic lineage. The finding of this work may open new avenues of application of PEM systems made by layer by layer (LbL) technique in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

JTD Keywords: Collagen reorganization, Glycosaminoglycans, Layer-by-layer technique, Mesenchymal stem cells, Osteogenic differentiation


Bennetts, Victor, Schaffernicht, Erik, Pomareda, Victor, Lilienthal, Achim, Marco, Santiago, Trincavelli, Marco, (2014). Combining non selective gas sensors on a mobile robot for identification and mapping of multiple chemical compounds Sensors 14, (9), 17331-17352

In this paper, we address the task of gas distribution modeling in scenarios where multiple heterogeneous compounds are present. Gas distribution modeling is particularly useful in emission monitoring applications where spatial representations of the gaseous patches can be used to identify emission hot spots. In realistic environments, the presence of multiple chemicals is expected and therefore, gas discrimination has to be incorporated in the modeling process. The approach presented in this work addresses the task of gas distribution modeling by combining different non selective gas sensors. Gas discrimination is addressed with an open sampling system, composed by an array of metal oxide sensors and a probabilistic algorithm tailored to uncontrolled environments. For each of the identified compounds, the mapping algorithm generates a calibrated gas distribution model using the classification uncertainty and the concentration readings acquired with a photo ionization detector. The meta parameters of the proposed modeling algorithm are automatically learned from the data. The approach was validated with a gas sensitive robot patrolling outdoor and indoor scenarios, where two different chemicals were released simultaneously. The experimental results show that the generated multi compound maps can be used to accurately predict the location of emitting gas sources.

JTD Keywords: Environmental monitoring, Gas discrimination, Gas distribution mapping, Service robots, Open sampling systems, PID, Metal oxide sensors


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

Jané, R., Lazaro, J., Ruiz, P., Gil, E., Navajas, D., Farre, R., Laguna, P., (2013). Obstructive Sleep Apnea in a rat model: Effects of anesthesia on autonomic evaluation from heart rate variability measures CinC 2013 Computing in Cardiology Conference (CinC) , IEEE (Zaragoza, Spain) , 1011-1014

Rat model of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a realistic approach for studying physiological mechanisms involved in sleep. Rats are usually anesthetized and autonomic nervous system (ANS) could be blocked. This study aimed to assess the effect of anesthesia on ANS activity during OSA episodes. Seven male Sprague-Dawley rats were anesthetized intraperitoneally with urethane (1g/kg). The experiments were conducted applying airway obstructions, simulating 15s-apnea episodes for 15 minutes. Five signals were acquired: respiratory pressure and flow, SaO2, ECG and photoplethysmography (PPG). In total, 210 apnea episodes were studied. Normalized power spectrum of Pulse Rate Variability (PRV) was analyzed in the Low Frequency (LF) and High Frequency (HF) bands, for each episode in consecutive 15s intervals (before, during and after the apnea). All episodes showed changes in respiratory flow and SaO2 signal. Conversely, decreases in the amplitude fluctuations of PPG (DAP) were not observed. Normalized LF presented extremely low values during breathing (median=7,67%), suggesting inhibition of sympathetic system due to anesthetic effect. Subtle increases of LF were observed during apnea. HRV and PPG analysis during apnea could be an indirect tool to assess the effect and deep of anesthesia.

JTD Keywords: electrocardiography, fluctuations, medical disorders, medical signal detection, medical signal processing, neurophysiology, photoplethysmography, pneumodynamics, sleep, ECG, SaO2 flow, SaO2 signal, airway obstructions, amplitude fluctuations, anesthesia effects, anesthetized nervous system, autonomic evaluation, autonomic nervous system, breathing, heart rate variability, high-frequency bands, low-frequency bands, male Sprague-Dawley rats, normalized power spectrum, obstructive sleep apnea, photoplethysmography, physiological mechanisms, pulse rate variability, rat model, respiratory flow, respiratory pressure, signal acquisition, sympathetic system inhibition, time 15 min, time 15 s, Abstracts, Atmospheric modeling, Computational modeling, Electrocardiography, Rats, Resonant frequency


Tort, N., Salvador, J. P., Avino, A., Eritja, R., Comelles, J., Martinez, E., Samitier, J., Marco, M. P., (2012). Synthesis of steroid-oligonucleotide conjugates for a DNA site-encoded SPR immunosensor Bioconjugate Chemistry , 23, (11), 2183-2191

The excellent self-assembling properties of DNA and the excellent specificity of the antibodies to detect analytes of small molecular weight under competitive conditions have been combined in this study. Three oligonucleotide sequences (N(1)up, N(2)up, and N(3)up) have been covalently attached to three steroidal haptens (8, hG, and 13) of three anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS), stanozolol (ST), tetrahydrogestrinone (THG), and boldenone (B), respectively. The synthesis of steroid oligonucleotide conjugates has been performed by the reaction of oligonucleotides carrying amino groups with carboxyl acid derivatives of steroidal haptens. Due to the chemical nature of the steroid derivatives, two methods for coupling the haptens and the ssDNA have been studied: a solid-phase coupling strategy and a solution-phase coupling strategy. Specific antibodies against ST, THG, and B have been used in this study to asses the possibility of using the self-assembling properties of the DNA to prepare biofunctional SPR gold chips based on the immobilization of haptens, by hybridization with the complementary oligonucleotide strands possessing SH groups previously immobilized. The capture of the steroid oligonucleotide conjugates and subsequent binding of the specific antibodies can be monitored on the sensogram due to variations produced on the refractive index on top of the gold chip. The resulting steroid oligonucleotide conjugates retain the hybridization and specific binding properties of oligonucleotides and haptens as demonstrated by thermal denaturation experiments and surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

JTD Keywords: Directed protein immobilization, Plasmon resonance biosensor, Self-assembled monolayers, Label-free, Serum samples, Assay, Immunoassays, Antibodies, Progress, Binding


Caballero, D., Martinez, E., Bausells, J., Errachid, A., Samitier, J., (2012). Impedimetric immunosensor for human serum albumin detection on a direct aldehyde-functionalized silicon nitride surface Analytica Chimica Acta 720, 43-48

In this work we report the fabrication and characterization of a label-free impedimetric immunosensor based on a silicon nitride (Si 3N 4) surface for the specific detection of human serum albumin (HSA) proteins. Silicon nitride provides several advantages compared with other materials commonly used, such as gold, and in particular in solid-state physics for electronic-based biosensors. However, few Si 3N 4-based biosensors have been developed; the lack of an efficient and direct protocol for the integration of biological elements with silicon-based substrates is still one of its the main drawbacks. Here, we use a direct functionalization method for the direct covalent binding of monoclonal anti-HSA antibodies on an aldehyde-functionalized Si-p/SiO 2/Si 3N 4 structure. This methodology, in contrast with most of the protocols reported in literature, requires less chemical reagents, it is less time-consuming and it does not need any chemical activation. The detection capability of the immunosensor was tested by performing non-faradaic electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) measurements for the specific detection of HSA proteins. Protein concentrations within the linear range of 10 -13-10 -7M were detected, showing a sensitivity of 0.128ΩμM -1 and a limit of detection of 10 -14M. The specificity of the sensor was also addressed by studying the interferences with a similar protein, bovine serum albumin. The results obtained show that the antibodies were efficiently immobilized and the proteins detected specifically, thus, establishing the basis and the potential applicability of the developed silicon nitride-based immunosensor for the detection of proteins in real and more complex samples.

JTD Keywords: Aldehyde, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, Human serum albumin, Immunosensor, Silicon nitride, Bovine serum albumins, Chemical reagents, Complex samples, Covalent binding, Detection capability, Electrochemical impedance, Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy measurements, Functionalizations, Human serum albumins, Impedimetric immunosensors, Label free, Limit of detection, Linear range, Protein concentrations, Silicon-based, Specific detection, Aldehydes


Gramse, G., Gomila, G., Fumagalli, L., (2012). Quantifying the dielectric constant of thick insulators by electrostatic force microscopy: effects of the microscopic parts of the probe Nanotechnology 23, (20), 205703

We present a systematic analysis of the effects that the microscopic parts of electrostatic force microscopy probes (the cone and cantilever) have on the electrostatic interaction between the tip apex and thick insulating substrates (thickness>100mum). We discuss how these effects can influence the measurement and quantification of the local dielectric constant of the substrates. We propose and experimentally validate a general methodology that takes into account the influence of the cone and the cantilever, thus enabling us to obtain very accurate values of the dielectric constants of thick insulators.

JTD Keywords: Polarization, Samples


Garde, A., Laguna, P., Giraldo, B.F., Jané, R., Sörnmo, L., (2012). Ensemble-based time alignment of biomedical signals Proceedings BSI 2012 7th International Workshop on Biosignal Interpretation (BSI 2012) , IEEE (Como, Italy) W3: METHODS FOR BIOMEDICAL SIGNAL PROCESSING ENHANCEMENT, 307-310

In this paper, the problem of time alignment is revisited by adopting an ensemble-based approach with all signals jointly aligned. It is shown that the maximization of an eigenvalue ratio is synonymous to maximizing the signal-to-jitter-and-noise ratio. Since optimization of this criterion is extremely time consuming, a relaxed optimization procedure is introduced which converges much more quickly. Using simulations based on respiratory flow signals, the results suggest that the time delay error variance of the new method is much lower than that obtained with the well-known Woody’s method.

JTD Keywords: Time alignment, Signal ensemble, Subsample precision, Eigenvalue decomposition


Miranda Coelho, Nuno, Gonzalez-Garcia, Cristina, Salmeron-Sanchez, Manuel, Altankov, George, (2011). Arrangement of type IV collagen on NH(2) and COOH functionalized surfaces Biotechnology and Bioengineering , 108, (12), 3009-3018

Apart from the paradigm that cell-biomaterials interaction depends on the adsorption of soluble adhesive proteins we anticipate that upon distinct conditions also other, less soluble ECM proteins such as collagens, associate with the biomaterials interface with consequences for cellular response that might be of significant bioengineering interest. Using atomic force microscopy (AFM) we seek to follow the nanoscale behavior of adsorbed type IV collagen (Col IV)-a unique multifunctional matrix protein involved in the organization of basement membranes (BMs) including vascular ones. We have previously shown that substratum wettability significantly affects Col IV adsorption pattern, and in turn alters endothelial cells interaction. Here we introduce two new model surfaces based on self-assembled monolayers (SAMs), a positively charged - NH(2), and negatively charged -COOH surface, to learn more about their particular effect on Col IV behavior. AFM studies revealed distinct pattern of Col IV assembly onto the two SAMs resembling different aspects of network-like structure or aggregates (suggesting altered protein conformation). Moreover, the amount of adsorbed FITC-labeled Col IV was quantified and showed about twice more protein on NH(2) substrata. Human umbilical vein endothelial cells attached less efficiently to Col IV adsorbed on negatively charged COOH surface judged by altered cell spreading, focal adhesions formation, and actin cytoskeleton development. Immunofluorescence studies also revealed better Col IV recognition by both alpha(1) and alpha(2) integrins on positively charged NH(2) substrata resulting in higher phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase recruitment in the focal adhesion complexes. On COOH surface, no integrin clustering was observed. Taken altogether these results, point to the possibility that combined NH(2) and Col IV functionalization may support endothelization of cardiovascular implants.

JTD Keywords: Collagen type IV, SAMs, AFM, Surface-induced protein assembly, Endothelial cells, Vascular grafts


Gavín, R., Ferrer, Isidro, del Río, J. A., (2010). Involvement of Dab1 in APP processing and [beta]-amyloid deposition in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob patients Neurobiology of Disease , 37, (2), 324-329

Alzheimer's disease and prion pathologies (e.g., Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD)) display profound neural lesions associated with aberrant protein processing and extracellular amyloid deposits. Dab1 has been implicated in the regulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP), but a direct link between human prion diseases and Dab1/APP interactions has not been published. Here we examined this putative relationship in 17 cases of sporadic CJD (sCJD) post-mortem. Biochemical analyses of brain tissue revealed two groups, which also correlated with PrPsc types 1 and 2. One group with PrPsc type 1 showed increased Dab1 phosphorylation and lower [beta]CTF production with an absence of A[beta] deposition. The second sCJD group, which carried PrPsc type 2, showed lower levels of Dab1 phosphorylation and [beta]CTF production, and A[beta] deposition. Thus, the present observations suggest a correlation between Dab1 phosphorylation, A[beta] deposition and PrPsc type in sCJD.

JTD Keywords: Prionopathies, Amyloid plaques, Alzheimer's disease, Dab1


Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Ponce, J., Bravo, R., Arimon, M., Martianez, T., Gella, A., Cladera, J., Durany, N., (2010). Modulation of amyloid beta peptide(1-42) cytotoxicity and aggregation in vitro by glucose and chondroitin sulfate Current Alzheimer Research , 7, (5), 428-438

One mechanism leading to neurodegeneration during Alzheimer's Disease (AD) is amyloid beta peptide (A beta)-induced neurotoxicity. Among the factors proposed to potentiate A beta toxicity is its covalent modification through carbohydrate-derived advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs). Other experimental evidence, though, indicates that certain polymeric carbohydrates like the glycosaminoglycan (GAG) chains found in proteoglycan molecules attenuate the neurotoxic effect of A beta in primary neuronal cultures. Pretreatment of the 42-residue A beta fragment (A beta(1-42)) with the ubiquitous brain carbohydrates, glucose, fructose, and the GAG chondroitin sulfate B (CSB) inhibits A beta beta(1-42)-induced apoptosis and reduces the peptide neurotoxicity on neuroblastoma cells, a cytoprotective effect that is partially reverted by AGE inhibitors such as pyridoxamine and L-carnosine. Thioflavin T fluorescence measurements indicate that at concentrations close to physiological, only CSB promotes the formation of A beta amyloid fibril structure. Atomic force microscopy imaging and Western blot analysis suggest that glucose favours the formation of globular oligomeric structures derived from aggregated species. Our data suggest that at short times carbohydrates reduce A beta(1-42) toxicity through different mechanisms both dependent and independent of AGE formation.

JTD Keywords: Alzheimer's disease, Advanced glycation endproducts, Amyloid fibrils, Amyloid beta peptide, Apoptosis, Carbohydrates, Glycosaminoglycans


Harder, A., Walhorn, V., Dierks, T., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Anselmetti, D., (2010). Single-molecule force spectroscopy of cartilage aggrecan self-adhesion Biophysical Journal , 99, (10), 3498-3504

We investigated self-adhesion between highly negatively charged aggrecan macromolecules extracted from bovine cartilage extracellular matrix by performing atomic force microscopy (AFM) imaging and single-molecule force spectroscopy (SMFS) in saline solutions. By controlling the density of aggrecan molecules on both the gold substrate and the gold-coated tip surface at submonolayer densities, we were able to detect and quantify the Ca2+-dependent homodimeric interaction between individual aggrecan molecules at the single-molecule level. We found a typical nonlinear sawtooth profile in the AFM force-versus-distance curves with a molecular persistence length of I-p = 0.31 +/- 0.04 nm. This is attributed to the stepwise dissociation of individual glycosaminoglycan (GAG) side chains in aggrecans, which is very similar to the known force fingerprints of other cell adhesion proteoglycan systems. After studying the GAG-GAG dissociation in a dynamic, loading-rate-dependent manner (dynamic SMFS) and analyzing the data according to the stochastic Bell-Evans model for a thermally activated decay of a metastable state under an external force, we estimated for the single glycan interaction a mean lifetime of tau = 7.9 +/- 4.9 s and a reaction bond length of x(beta) = 0.31 +/- 0.08 nm. Whereas the x(beta)-value compares well with values from other cell adhesion carbohydrate recognition motifs in evolutionary distant marine sponge proteoglycans, the rather short GAG interaction lifetime reflects high intermolecular dynamics within aggrecan complexes, which may be relevant for the viscoelastic properties of cartilage tissue.

JTD Keywords: Bovine nasal cartilage, Articular-cartilage, Sinorhizobium-meliloti, Proteoglycan, Microscopy, DNA, Macromolecules, Binding, Protein, Glycosaminoglycans


Sanmarti, M., Iavicoli, P., Pajot-Augy, E., Gomila, G., Samitier, J., (2010). Human olfactory receptors immobilization on a mixed self assembled monolayer for the development of a bioelectronic nose Procedia Engineering (EUROSENSOR XXIV CONFERENCE) 24th Eurosensor Conference (ed. Jakoby, B., Vellekoop, M.J.), Elsevier Science (Linz, Austria) 5, 786-789

The present work focuses on the development of an immunosensing surface to build a portable olfactory system for the detection of complex mixture of odorants. Homogeneous cell derived vesicles expressing the olfactory receptors were produced and immobilized with efficiency onto a gold substrate through an optimized surface functionalization method.

JTD Keywords: Bioelectronic noses, Biosensors, Nanoproteoliposomes, Nanosomes, Olfactory receptors, SAMs


Morell, M., Bravo, R., Espargaro, A., Sisquella, X., Aviles, F. X., Fernàndez-Busquets, X., Ventura, S., (2008). Inclusion bodies: Specificity in their aggregation process and amyloid-like structure Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research , 1783, (10), 1815-1825

The accumulation of aggregated protein in the cell is associated with the pathology of many diseases and constitutes a major concern in protein production. Intracellular aggregates have been traditionally regarded as nonspecific associations of misfolded polypeptides. This view is challenged by studies demonstrating that, in vitro, aggregation often involves specific interactions. However, little is known about the specificity of in vivo protein deposition. Here, we investigate the degree of in vivo co-aggregation between two self-aggregating proteins, A beta A2 amyloid peptide and foot-and-mouth disease virus VP1 capsid protein, in prokaryotic cells. In addition, the ultrastructure of intracellular aggregates is explored to decipher whether amyloid fibrils and intracellular protein inclusions share structural properties. The data indicate that in vivo protein aggregation exhibits a remarkable specificity that depends on the establishment of selective interactions and results in the formation of oligomeric and fibrillar structures displaying amyloid-like properties. These features allow prokaryotic A beta A2 intracellular aggregates to act as effective seeds in the formation of A beta A2 amyloid fibrils. overall, our results suggest that conserved mechanisms underlie protein aggregation in different organisms. They also have important implications for biotechnological and biomedical applications of recombinant polypeptides.

JTD Keywords: Protein aggregation, Inclusion bodies, Conformational diseases, Amyloid fibrils, Protein folding


Oncins, G., Torrent-Burgues, J., Sanz, F., (2008). Nanomechanical properties of arachidic acid Langmuir-Blodgett films Journal of Physical Chemistry C 112, (6), 1967-1974

The nanomechanical properties of Langmuir-Blodgett monolayers of arachidic acid extracted at surface pressures of 1, 15, and 35 mN/m and deposited on mica were investigated by atomic force microscopy, force spectroscopy, and lateral force microscopy. It was experimentally demonstrated that the arachidic acid molecular orientation depends on the extraction pressure. According to this, tilting angles of 50, 34, and 22 degrees with respect to the surface perpendicular were detected and identified as conformations that maximize van der Waals interactions between the arachidic acid alkyl chains. The vertical force needed to puncture the monolayers with the AFM tip strongly depends on the molecular tilting angles attained at different monolayer extraction surface pressures, obtaining values that range from 13.07 +/- 3.24 nN for 50 degrees to 22.94 +/- 5.49 nN for 22 degrees tilting angles. The different molecular interactions involved in the monolayer cohesion are discussed and quantitatively related to the experimental monolayer breakthrough forces. The friction measurements performed from low vertical forces up to monolayer disruption reveal the existence of three well-defined regimes: first, a low friction response due to the elastic deformation of the monolayer, which is followed by a sharp increase in the friction force due to the onset of a sudden plastic deformation. The last regime corresponds to the monolayer rupture and the contact between tip and substrate. The friction coefficient of the substrate is seen to depend on the monolayer extraction pressure, a fact that is discussed in terms of the relationship between the sample compactness and its rupture mechanism.

JTD Keywords: AFM, SAM, Reflection-absortion spectroscopy, Lipid-bilayers, Frictional-properies, Molecular-structure, Thermal behavior, Nanometer-scale, Chain-length, LB films