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News U8

NANBIOSIS Scientific Women in the International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Today February 11 is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to raise awareness of the gender gap in science and technology.

According to the United Nations, while yet women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science, science and gender equality are vital to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Thus, in recent years, the international community has made a great effort to inspire and promote the participation of women and girls in science.

NANBIOSIS wants to acknowledge  the efforts made by scientific women who struggle every day to contribute their bit to Science and highlight their essential role in nowadays research. Especially we want to recognize the work of scientists women involved in our units, whatever is the nature of their contribution: technical, scientific development, management, coordination, direction, etc; just to mention some examples:
Neus Ferrer in the Scientific Direction of Unit 1 Protein Production Platform (PPP)
Pilar Marco and Nuria Pascual in the Management and Scientific Coordination of U2 Custom Antibody Service (CAbS) 
Miriam Royo in the Scientific Direction of U3 Synthesis of Peptides Unit
Laura Lechuga and M.Carmen Estevez in the Direction and Scientific Coordination of U4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit
Nora Ventosa and Nathaly Segovia in the Scientific Direction and Technical Coordination of U6 Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit
Isabel Oliveira and Teresa Galán in the Coordination of U7 Nanotecnology Unit
Rosa Villa and Gemma Gabriel in the Management and Scientific Coordination of U8 Micro – Nano Technology Unit
Gema Martínez in the Scientific Coordination of U9 Synthesis of Nanoparticles Unit
Fany Peña in the Scientific Coordination of U13 Tissue & Scaffold Characterization Unit
Mª Luisa González Martín in the of Direction and Scientific Coordination of U16 Tissue & Scaffold Characterization Unit
Gemma Pascual and Isabel Trabado in the Coordination of the U17 Confocal Microscopy Service
Mª Virtudes Céspedes in the Scientific Coordination of U18 Nanotoxicology Unit
Beatriz Moreno in the Scientific Direction of Unit 19 Clinical tests lab
Ibane Abásolo in the Scientific Coordination of Unit 20 In Vivo Experimental Platformt
Verónica Crisóstomo in the Scientific Direction of Unit 24 Medical Imaging 

Ana Paula Candiota in the Scientific Coordination of Unit 25 Biomedical Applications I 
Maria Luisa García in the Scientific Direction of U28 NanoImaging Unit from Bionand, recently incorporated to NANBIOSIS

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Rosa Villa explains how New graphene implants can help to better understand the brain

A graphene implant that detects brain activity at extremely low frequencies could improve the technology of the electrodes to analyze the state of our brain, has been developed by researchers from several research institutes of the CSIC in Catalonia and the CIBER-BBN.

Last First of February , Rosa Villa, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U8 Micro – Nano Technology Unit was interviewed in Ágora, a program of Scientific Dissemination of Radio Aragón. Dr. Villa, researcher of the Biomedical Applications Group of the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona and CIBER in Bioengineering, Biomaterials and Nanomedicine, explains the relevance of the research carried out, together with several institutes of the CSIC in Catalonia, on the application of new materials to the study of brain activity.

The brain is composed of many neurons that communicate with each other. This communication occurs through electric currents that are detected with electrodes placed on the surface of the head or above the brain. Brain waves are very different if we are awake or asleep or when we have certain pathologies. The electrodes with which these electrical signals
were analyzed used to be large; thanks to the microelectronics began to make increasingly smaller electrodes that could identify communications much better but that small size also makes their limited reach, since they do not always take all the degrees of frequency.

Graphene has opened the degree of frequencies to detect the electrical signals of the brain. So far the electrodes were placed on top of the hair (for example the encephalograms) but now, although it has only been done in animals for the moment, the microelectrodes are already being placed as implants on the brain itself, which are left on the surface or they dig in to access more depth. When this is done, the brain feels invaded and isolates that electrode generating a scar, which is why more compatible materials are sought that are not rejected by the brain, such as graphene. Overcoming this technical limitation makes accessible the large amount of information that is below 0.1 Hz, while it facilitates the design of new brain-computer interfaces can register a wide range of frequency of what is occurring in a site of the brain.

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Involvement of Cellular Prion Protein in α-Synuclein Transport in Neurons

Researchers of NANBIOSIS U7 Nanotechnology Unit are coauthors of the article “Involvement of Cellular Prion Protein in α-Synuclein Transport in Neurons” by Molecular Neurobiology

The cellular prion protein, encoded by the gene Prnp, has been reported to be a receptor of β-amyloid. Their interaction is mandatory for neurotoxic effects of β-amyloid oligomers. In this study, we aimed to explore whether the cellular prion protein participates in the spreading of α-synuclein. Results demonstrate that Prnp expression is not mandatory for α-synuclein spreading. However, although the pathological spreading of α-synuclein can take place in the absence of Prnp, α-synuclein expanded faster in PrPC-overexpressing mice. In addition, α-synuclein binds strongly on PrPC-expressing cells, suggesting a role in modulating the effect of α-synuclein fibrils.

Article: doi: 10.1007/s12035-017-0451-4


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Resemblance of the human liver sinusoid in a fluidic device with biomedical and pharmaceutical applications

Scientists of Unit 8 of NANBIOSIS are co-authors of the article “Resemblance of the human liver sinusoid in a fluidic device with biomedical and pharmaceutical applications“, recently published  by Biotechnology and Bioengineering.  The fabrication of Exoliver was performed by the platform of Production of Biomaterials and Biomolecules of the ICTS, more specifically by the “NANBIOSIS,” Unit 8.

Maintenance of the complex phenotype of primary hepatocytes in vitro represents a limitation for developing liver support systems and reliable tools for biomedical research and drug screening. We herein aimed at developing a biosystem able to preserve human and rodent hepatocytes phenotype in vitro based on the main characteristics of the liver sinusoid: unique cellular architecture, endothelial biodynamic stimulation, and parenchymal zonation. Primary hepatocytes and liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) were isolated from control and cirrhotic human or control rat livers and cultured in conventional in vitro platforms or within our liver‐resembling device. Hepatocytes phenotype, function, and response to hepatotoxic drugs were analyzed. Results evidenced that mimicking the in vivo sinusoidal environment within our biosystem, primary human and rat hepatocytes cocultured with functional LSEC maintained morphology and showed high albumin and urea production, enhanced cytochrome P450 family 3 subfamily A member 4 (CYP3A4) activity, and maintained expression of hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha (hnf4α) and transporters, showing delayed hepatocyte dedifferentiation. In addition, differentiated hepatocytes cultured within this liver‐resembling device responded to acute treatment with known hepatotoxic drugs significantly different from those seen in conventional culture platforms. In conclusion, this study describes a new bioengineered device that mimics the human sinusoid in vitro, representing a novel method to study liver diseases and toxicology.

Article of reference: https://doi.org/10.1002/bit.26776

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Graphene 2018 with the participation of NANBIOSIS Unit 8

Eli Prats  and Eduard Masvidal researchers of NANBIOSIS Unit 8 Micro and Nanotechnology Unit have shown their last results in ECoG recordings and biosensing using graphene based devices at the 8th edition of Graphene Conference series, the largest European Event in Graphene and 2D Materials, which is taken place in Dresden (Germany) from the 26th until the 29th of June 2018.

Eli Prats has spoken on Label-free Direct Detection of Thrombin through graphene SGFET with chemically modified aptamers and Eduard Masvidal has given a talk on Graphene transistors for ultra-slow frequency (< 0.1Hz) in vivo neural recordings showing graphene SGFETs as a promising technology for recording ultra-slow frequencies with high-spatial resolution

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Online oxygen monitoring using integrated inkjetprinted sensors in a liver-on-a-chip system

Scientists of NANBIOSIS Unit 8. Micro – Nano Technology Unit, led by Gemma Gabriel, Scientific Coordinator of the Unit, are the authors of the article “Online oxygen monitoring using integrated inkjetprinted sensors in a liver-on-a-chip system”, published by Lab on a chip.

The demand for real-time monitoring of cell functions and cell conditions has dramatically increased with the emergence of organ-on-a-chip (OOC) systems. However, the incorporation of co-cultures and microfluidic channels in OOC systems increases their biological complexity and therefore makes the analysis and monitoring of analytical parameters inside the device more difficult. In this work, theauthors present an approach to integrate multiple sensors in an extremely thin, porous and delicate membrane inside a liver-on-a-chip device. Specifically, three electrochemical dissolved oxygen (DO) sensors were inkjet-printed along the microfluidic channel allowing local online monitoring of oxygen concentrations. This approach demonstrates the existence of an oxygen gradient up to 17.5% for rat hepatocytes and 32.5% for human hepatocytes along the bottom channel. Such gradients are considered crucial for the appearance of zonation of the liver. Inkjet printing (IJP) was the selected technology as it allows drop on demand material deposition compatible with delicate substrates, as used in this study, which cannot withstand temperatures higher than 130 °C. For the deposition of uniform gold and silver conductive inks on the porous membrane, a primer layer using SU-8 dielectric material was used to seal the porosity of the membrane at defined areas, with the aim of building a uniform sensor device. As a proof-of-concept, experiments with cell cultures of primary human and rat hepatocytes were performed, and oxygen consumption rate was stimulated with carbonyl-cyanide-4-(trifluoromethoxy)phenylhydrazone (FCCP), accelerating the basal respiration of 0.23 ± 0.07 nmol s−1/106 cells up to 5.95 ± 0.67 nmol s−1/106 cells s for rat cells and the basal respiration of 0.17 ± 0.10 nmol s−1/106 cells by up to 10.62 ± 1.15 nmol s−1/106 cells for human cells, with higher oxygen consumption of the cells seeded at the outflow zone. These results demonstrate that the approach of printing sensors inside an OOC has tremendous potential because IJP is a feasible technique for the integration of different sensors for evaluating metabolic activity of cells, and overcomes one of the major challenges still remaining on how to tap the full potential of OOC systems.


Article of reference: DOI: 10.1039/C8LC00456K

This article is part of the themed collection: Organ-, body- and disease-on-a-chip systems

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Why research in micro-electronics? Neural interfaces, interaction between the nervous and the artificial system

Dra. Rosa Villa,  Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U8. Micro – Nano Technology Unit, explained last June, 11 at the Residence of Researchers of Barcelona the great scientific challenges in finding tools that allow a good interaction between the nervous and the artificial system.

This talk is part of the series of conferences organized by the CNM with the theme “Why research in micro-electronics?” Dr. Manuel Lozano, Director of the CNM, introduced the talk explaining that with microelectronic technology scientists  can capture the signals that occur in the nerves and in the brain and presented Rosa Villa  as a doctor  with a PhD in cochlear implants (electronic medical devices that perform the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain). Dr. Villa now directs the group of biomedical applications of the CNM that currently uses nano technologies in their research. Her training in medicine and microelectronics has allowed her to tackle electronic-based projects with biomedical application. Her lines of research are focused, nowadays, on neural interfaces and on organ-on-chip technology, (a multi-channel 3-D microfluidic cell culture chip that simulates the activities, mechanics and physiological response of the entire organs and organ systems, the group of Dr. Villa works mainly the liver, very useful for the test of drug patho-toxicity).

In this talk, Rosa Villa explains her second line research of neural interfaces, the development of suitable interfaces between the biological systems and electronic devices and how they study the improvement of the necessary technologies to restore the motor skills or to know how the brain works applying microelectronic techniques.  These investigations run into the main problems of biocompatibility and conectivity and Rosa Villa shows us her letter to Santa Claus to solve them and how graphene is being of great help.

You can see the whole conference clicking here

The video includes a funny class by Eli Prats to produce graphene at home.

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Agreements signed with MINECO for the allocation of FEDER funds for NANBIOSIS ICTS

In the framework of the FEDER Program in ICTS 2014-2020, several projects related to the ICTS NANBIOSIS have been selected by the MINECO for co-financing with FEDER funds of the European Regional Development Funds program.

An agreement has been signed between MINECO and CIBER (partner of NANBIOSIS for the co-financing of the Project: “Purchase, installation and set-up of production and characterization equipment to complement the Units: U3-Synthesis of Peptides Unit, U18-Nanotoxicology and U20- In Vivo Experimental Platform”. The total budget of the project amounts to € 307,566.16, with 50% financing with FEDER Funds.

Also CSIC (The State Agency Superior Council of Scientific Investigations), institution that houses some of the NANBIOSIS units,  as distributed ICTS,  has signed an agreement with MINECO for the co-financing of the Project: “Purchase and installation and set-up of equipment and production and characterization laboratories to complement the units U2-Production of antibodies, U4-Biodeposition and biosensing, U6-Processing of biomaterials and U8-Micro, nanotechnology. The total budget of the project amounts to € 312.800,00 €, with 50% financing with FEDER Funds.

These two projects aim to increase the quantity and quality of the services offered by th implied units, with the objetive of positioning them as national and international benchmark in their respective fields of application. As a consequence, an increase in the performance (number of services and number of users) of each unit is expected, especially from companies (pharmaceutical and small biotechnology).

CSIC and CIBER are processing the necessary contracting procedures for the execution of these projects.

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NANBIOSIS collaborates in the dissemination of science and triumphs in the Pint of Science Festival

On May 16, scientists from two units of NANBIOSIS filled the pubs, not to talk about football but about science.

According to Jorge Bueno, Coordinator of Pint of Science in Spain, at the VanguardScience is also culture, just as we go to the bar to talk about football or politics, we can also talk about science, we want people to conceive science as part of society

In the cafe of the civic center of the Casa Orlandai in Barcelona, ​​Eli Prats, a researcher of NANBIOSIS U8. Micro – Nano Technology Unit, explains her group has  developed graphene electrodes, a material with unique properties, that can monitor the activity of the brain in a less invasive than conventional ones. “We have tested it in rats and we have discovered that graphene can detect very poorly studied brain waves, which occur just before dying, just before an attack of epilepsy or before a migraine attack.” The researcher shows a sample of the tiny electrodes, which passes from hand to hand in the pub. “It’s still just an idea, but theoretically in the future these electrodes, placed on a person’s brain, could send a signal to a tablet and predict when they will suffer an attack of epilepsy,” adds Eli Prats.

Esther Pueyo, researcher of NANBIOSIS, U27. High Performance Computing, in the Drinks and Pool Aranda pub of Zaragoza explained that “Chronological age does not matter, but the biological one does,  not all hearts age equally”  and she tried to answer the questions why do I look older? What other people of my age? Will this have consequences? To show the tiny tissues Esther and researchers around her commonly work with, biopsies were collected from a cow heart and examples of the experimental and theoretical analyses they conduct were illustrated.

Throughout Spain, a total of 730 scientists have participated giving talks within the Pint of Science Festival, in 56 cities,  together with around 400 organizers, all of them volunteers.


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Nanotechnology, gene therapy, omics therapies and ‘big data’

Nanotechnology, gene therapy, omics therapies and ‘big data’ were the topics discussed in the Forum on Emerging Technologies oganized on May 8 by nanotechnology, gene therapy, omics therapies and ‘big data’ were the topics discussed in the I Forum on Emerging Technologies held on May 8, organized by the CIBER Internationalization Platform, of which the CIBERER, the CIBER-BBN and the CIBERES.

The objective of this event, structured in sessions of presentations and scientific debates about the types of technologies addressed, was to promote the exchange of ideas and scientific knowledge with the aim of generating new collaborations among the CIBER research groups  such as participation in transversal projects or the development of cutting-edge technologies.

NANBIOSIS was represented by Pablo Laguna (Unit 27, High Performance Computing), Laura Lechuga (Unit 4, Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit), José Luis Pedraz (Unit 10, Drug Formulation) and Rosa Villa (Unit8, Micro – Nano Technology Unit)

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