Nanoscale Functional Polymers for Brain Diseases & Regenerative Medicine

One of the main activities of the Nanosfun group is focused on the development of polymeric nanoparticles and coatings for health and social welfare. For this, we embrace mostly, though not exclusively:

  • Nanoparticles for diagnosis and therapy.
  • Fine-tuning of the hydrophobic/hydrophilic balance, biocompatibility or other additional properties via surface (bio)functionalization.
  • Thin-films for the regeneration of human cells/tissues allowing for the proper functioning of organs or surgical adhesives and appliance bonding.

To achieve all these objectives, polymers represent the leading biomaterials so far used. They can be designed with a range of architecture, functionalities and appropriate characteristics.

In our group, we work both with commercial FDA-approved polymers, as well as with novel biopolymers specifically designed for improved performance. A large part of our work is devoted to the development of novel families of polymers based on coordination chemistry and catechol chemistry.

A schematic representation of the different materials used and derived applications are given in the next scheme:

Healthy Aging

The XXI century society arises as one of its biggest challenges the development of strategies to lead a healthy lifestyle for better aging, as well as strategies to improve quality of life in the elder. This is necessary given that the half-life of the human being is increasing every day, and therefore, the diseases are exacerbated to a greater or lesser extent with aging problems. Among the different derived diseases, in our group, we have focalized mainly, though not exclusively, in brain-derived neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson, or cancer, mainly Glioblastoma.

Our objective is to understand the possible origins of these diseases to design multifunctional polymeric nanoparticles for detection and early treatment through direct collaboration with hospitals, medical centres and research institutes.

Inflammatory and Infectious Diseases

Every year around twelve million people die in the world due to infectious diseases becoming, along with cancer and chronic diseases, among the top ten most common causes of premature death. Our objective is to fabricate artificial nanostructured biomimetic vaccines and biocides. We have selected as a proof-of-concept infection caused by S. aureus but a priori this universal approach can be used where traditional vaccines and/or biocides have not been able to effectively prevent the advance of a large number of infectious pathologies or to prevent the growth and action of antimicrobial multiresistant (AMR) bacteria. Both are major health challenges that worldwide society is facing nowadays.

Regenerative medicine

Catechol derivatives are widely found in nature taking part in a variety of biological functions, ranging from the aqueous adhesion of marine organisms to the storage of transition metal ions. This has been achieved thanks to their (i) rich redox chemistry and ability to cross-link through complex and irreversible oxidation mechanisms, (ii) excellent chelating properties, and (iii) the diverse modes of interaction of the vicinal hydroxyl groups with all kinds of surfaces of remarkably different chemical and physical natures. In recent years, a growing amount of research efforts have been aimed at mimicking and translating these inherent features into new functional adhesives and coatings with enhanced properties.

So far, our main goal has been to gain a better understanding of catechol-based interfaces and to use them to improve our ability to effectively control critical performance parameters such as wettability, colloidal stability and controlled release. We are currently focused on the development of new catechol-based materials to be used as a) bioadhesives and b) functional coatings for Tissue Regeneration.