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News U16

News U16

New European Project NABIHEAL in biomaterials for complex wound healing

The Horizon Europe project NABIHEAL, coordinated by the Center for Biomedical Research Network (CIBER) at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB-CSIC), was launched on 11-12 January 2023 in Barcelona with the first meeting of the international consortium, formed by 14 partners from 7 countries, including research centers, universities, and private companies. 

This project will apply one the Cutting Edge Biomedical Solutions” of NANBIOSIS for the preparation of different nanoestructures with antimicrobial properties, required for the development of the final multifunctional wound healing biomaterials. This case will gather the expertise of two NANBIOSIS unit: NANBIOSIS U6 will produce and characterize these nanoestructures with antimicrobial properties, which will be tested in NANBIOSIS U16.

NABIHEAL stands for “Antimicrobial Nanostructured Biomaterials for Complex Wound Healing” and is funded under the Horizon Europe Research and Innovation programme with a total budget of nearly 5 million euros over four years. NABIHEAL aims at solving two unmet medical needs in complex wound healing: on the one hand, affordable treatments for wound infections and prevention of complications during wound healing, and on the other, a strategy to optimize the composition and efficacy of wound dressings.

The kickoff meeting, held at the CSIC Researcher’s Residence in Barcelona, was opened by the project coordinator, Nora Ventosa, from CIBER and ICMAB-CSIC, and by institutional and political representatives, including Riccardo Rurali, Vice-Director of ICMAB-CSIC; Ramon Martínez Mañez, Scientific Director of CIBER-BBN; Jordi Aguasca, Director of Technological Transformation and Disruption Unit, ACCIÓ; and Xavier Aldeguer, General Director of Society of Knowledge, Transfer & Territory of the Catalan Government. The meeting provided the opportunity to interact in person with all the consortium partners and establish the first collaborative activities to ensure timely delivery of the project milestones.

Complex wound healing as a global health problem

The NABIHEAL project will advance on the synthesis of advanced nanostructured biomaterials as an alternative to the commonly used silver-based materials. “The project will work to produce multifunctional materials for the treatment of complex wound healing, which has become a global health problem. For example, in developed countries, it affects the quality of life of more than 2% of the total population,” affirms Nora Ventosa, coordinator of the project.

Complex wounds, such as chronic wounds, are highly susceptible to microbial infection and biofilm formation, and thus difficult to treat. The most common antimicrobial products to treat these infections are based on silver. However, they have several economic, environmental and safety drawbacks. The biomaterials developed within the NABIHEAL project will offer a safer, more sustainable and more cost-effective alternative.

The project aims to obtain innovative multifunctional wound healing biomaterials using affordable EU-based manufacturing technologies. In the long term, NABIHEAL could become a game-changing alternative to silver in wound healing dressings.

An International Consortium

The goals of the project will be tackled by an interdisciplinary consortium from 7 countries, combining expertise in different areas, such as synthesis and characterization of biomaterials, biocompatibility and safety, regulatory aspects and ethics, or wound healing product development and scale-up. “We are excited to launch this project, in which 8 academic institutions and 6 private companies will join forces to face the challenging problem of complex wound treatment,” adds Prof. Ventosa.  

In addition to the Center for Biomedical Research Network (CIBER) at the Institute of Materials Science of Barcelona (ICMAB), as coordinator, the international consortium is formed by the following centers and companies: from Spain, the Center for Biomedical Research Network (CIBER) at the University of Extremadura and the University of Cantabria, the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Nanomol Technologies S.L. (NT), Bioiberica S.A.U (BIO), Histocell S.L (HCELL), the University of Granada (UGR), and Asphalion (ASPH); from Germany, MyBiotech GmbH (MyB) and Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin (CH); from Croatia, the Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health (IMI); from Denmark, the Aarhus University (AU); from Israel, the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology (IT); from Austria, BioNanoNet Forschungsgesellschaft mbH (BNN); and from Slovenia, the University of Maribor (UM).

More information:

Prof. Nora Ventosa, Project Coordinator, CIBER, ICMAB-CSIC ventosa@icmab.es

Caitlin Ahern, Communication, BioNanoNet caitlin.ahern@bnn.at

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New leaflets available of new equipment at NANBIOSIS Unit 16

We are delighted to announce the publication of our new brochures which reflects the new equiments and capabilities incorporated to NANBIOSI U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit.

The equipment is available has been incorporated to the Unit thanks to European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) allocated by the Goberment of Spain for the development of ICTSs, specifically through the Project FICTS-1420-14-09.

Further information: NANBIOSIS News

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In search of antimicrobials from natural bee products to coat implantable biomaterials, avoiding resistance.

The Microbial Adhesion research group-NANBIOSIS ICTS U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit of the University of Extremadura (AM-UEX)-, belonging to the CIBER-BBN, led by Maria Luisa González, is searching in natural products, specifically in propolis, compounds with antimicrobial activity to help fight infections associated with biomaterials.

Medical devices have greatly improved healthcare. But biofilm-associated infections related to the use of these devices are a major clinical concern. Biofilms are understood as bacterial communities that adhere to the surface of the devices and are embedded in a polymeric matrix that they themselves produce. This supracellular social organization arises as a survival strategy in hostile environments, such as the human being itself, endowing the microorganisms embedded in it with resistance to mechanical clearance, the host’s immune response and antimicrobial agents. In this context, to prevent bacterial adhesion and the subsequent formation of biofilms, one of the prevention strategies is the coating of the biomaterial surfaces or the incorporation into the biomaterial itself of antimicrobial agents that can prevent their development. These type of infection are also aggravated by the multi-resistance of the microorganisms involved. For this reason, the AM-UEX group works in the search for natural products, with antimicrobial activity, that do not generate resistance, for their incorporation into new implantable biomaterials.

Bees are our allies, and their products can be a good source of available antimicrobials. Propolis is a glue for the hive and is a potentially useful food additive as it contains antioxidant and preservative properties. However, its application in other fields is limited, due to its strong flavor and low solubility. In addition, standardization is difficult because its chemical composition varies according to the flora of the environment. However, it’s common to all that they exhibit remarkable biological activities.

In a first study, the chemical composition of a Spanish propolis with a high antimicrobial capacity against bacterial strains closely related to infections associated with the formation of biofilms on biomaterials, Staphylococcus epidermidis, has been identified. The group has found in a novel Spanish ethanolic extract of propolis (SEEP) a high amount of polyphenols (205 ± 34 mg GAE / g), of which more than half correspond to the flavonoids group ( 127 ± 19 mg QE / g). The importance of this finding lies in the remarkable antioxidant and antimicrobial activities that have been attributed to this class of phenols. In addition, a more detailed analysis revealed the presence of compounds that are also present in olive oil such as vanillic acid, 1-Acetoxypinoresinol, p-HPEA-EA and 3,4-DHPEA-EDA, not previously detected in samples of propolis, which contribute to various health benefits. Other compounds found in relatively low amounts such as ferulic acid and quercetin also provide important therapeutic benefits. Regarding the antimicrobial properties of SEEP, a high sensitivity for S. epidermidis at low concentrations and a high inhibitory capacity at lower concentrations were found.

The antibacterial activity of propolis has been extensively studied, but its mechanism of action remains unclear. Research by our group has focused on measuring alterations in the physicochemical properties of the outermost surface layer of bacterial cells, both in gram-positive (S. epidermidis) and gram-negative (E. coli) cells, after incubation. with different concentrations of this antimicrobial agent. Propolis was found to induce substantial changes in bulk charge density, electrophoretic smoothness, and degree of hydrophobicity of the outermost surface layer of cells. Furthermore, observation by electron microscopy and determination of the release of cellular components carried out in NANBIOSIS Unit 16 of CIBER-BBN and UEX showed that propolis at sub-bactericidal concentrations already causes, at least locally, structural and morphological damage and/or disturbances in the cell wall. This research proposes that the mechanism of action of propolis against bacteria comes initially from the structural damage of the membrane / wall produced by the different constituents of propolis. It is a mechanism of action to which it can be difficult for bacteria to generate resistance, especially if different SEEP molecules work together synergistically.

Reference articles:

Fernández-Calderón, M. C., Navarro-Pérez, M. L., Blanco-Roca, M. T., Gómez-Navia, C., Pérez-Giraldo, C., and Vadillo-Rodríguez, V. (2020). Chemical Profile and Antibacterial Activity of a Novel Spanish Propolis with New Polyphenols also Found in Olive Oil and High Amounts of Flavonoids. Molecules 25, 3318. [DOI]

Vadillo-Rodríguez V, Cavagnola MA, Pérez-Giraldo, Fernández-Calderón MC. (2021) A physico-chemical study of the interaction of ethanolic extracts of propolis with bacterial cells. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces 200, 111571. [DOI]

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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 NANBIOSIS, whatever is the nature of their contribution: technical, scientific development, management, coordination, direction, etc; just to mention some examples:
Neus Ferrer and Mercedes Márquez in the Scientific Direction and Coordination 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
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 and Margarita Hierro 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
Isolda Casanova 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, Anna Aviñó in the Scientific Coordination of U29 Oligonucleotide Synthesis Platform (OSP) – and

Nerea Argarate in the coordination of NANBIOSIS

Thanks to all of you and your teams!

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Chemical composition of explanted deteriorated nephrostomy polyurethane-catheters through X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy

Researchers of Nanbiosis U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit of CIBER-BBN and University of Extremadura in Badajoz, are the authors of an article published by Materials Chemistry and Physics,

The researchers studied the surface chemical information of thirteen used catheters that had remained in patients for two months, using the XPS technique with the purpose of this communication is to report.
Compositional changes in relation to unused catheters provided information on the degree of the chemical degradation suffered. ATR-IR
added information on the chemical characterization of the samples
and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis will advise on topographical changes.

The XPS technique is optimum to analyzed the surface chemical composition of medical polymer device. Applied to the ureteral catheters, XPS shows on the surface of damaged catheters calcium and other ions from urine. XPS was performed by the ICTS “NANBIOSIS”, more specifically by the Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit of the CIBER in Bioengineering, Biomaterials & Nanomedicne (CIBERBBN)
and the SACSS-SAIUEx of the University of Extremadura (UEx)

Ureteral catheters are a fundamental part of the modern urologist’s armamentarium. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) was used for the first time as a powerful analytical tool for the study of the chemical
composition of nephrostomy catheters retrieved from patients who had undergone nephrostomy to detect their chemical deterioration inside the human body. Depth profile analysis provided not only the composition of the surface but also that of the catheter bulk. The results obtained by XPS showed the presence of calcium and other ions, such as phosphorus, sulphur and fluorine in the explanted deteriorated catheters. The detection of barium on the surface of all the retrieved catheters has special relevance. This chemical element is usually incorporated as a radiomarker in the catheter polymeric matrix and its diffusion from the bulk material to the surface must be responsible for its XPS detection. The accumulation of high levels of this element from toxic barium salts in cases of urine drainage failure could lead to its adsorption from the surrounding tissues into the patient’s body, thus compromising the safety concentrations of this soft alkaline earth metal.

Article of reference:

Chemical composition of explanted deteriorated nephrostomy polyurethane-catheters through X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy María Fernández-Grajera, Margarita Hierro-Oliva, Luis Fernández-deAlarcón, Amparo M.Gallardo-Moreno. Materials Chemistry and Physics Volume 239,  2020, 121979 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.matchemphys.2019.121979

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New equipment for calorimetry and surface characterization for NANBIOSIS U16

NANBIOSIS unit 16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit form CIBER-BBN and University of Extremadura offers the performance of tasks of physical-chemical characterization of surfaces using techniques such as ellipsometry, calorimetry, X-ray photoelectronic spectroscopy (XPS) and detection of secondary ions by means of mass spectrometry by time of flight (Tof-SIMS). Recently, new equipment acquired through the execution an investment of 1.3 million euros, cofinanced with FEDER funds, the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and Junta de Extremadura, Regional Ministry of Economy, Science and Digital Agency, througth the project FICTS1420-14-09. These equipments are a microdroplet and picodroplet contact angle goniometry system and an optical profilometry system.

Equipment acquired


This system allows to measure contact angles automatically, controlling by software, the deposition of drops of different liquids, their analysis and the orientation of the substrate, as well as pending drops. In addition, the microdroplet system has a tilting base that allows the samples to be tilted by at least 90o. It also includes a thermostatic chamber, for temperature changes of the sample with a range between 5 and 90 ºC, and a chamber for humidity control.

Obtaining surface tension, through contact angle measurements, is a factor to consider in technologies of biomedical interest such as implants and other materials that must be in contact with biological fluids. In these systems the contact angle is related to the wettability, the hydrophobicity of the surface and the adhesion capacity of substances such as proteins or other compounds on the surfaces.

In the case of pico-droplet measurements, the system allows to very precisely dose drops much smaller than in the previous case, which can be as low as 20 picoliters, as well as to analyze their shape to measure the contact angle. This fact solves the problem of measuring wettability in very small structures, such as capillaries, microchips, joints created in the union of two materials, etc.


The system allows the roughness of a multitude of surfaces to be measured by an optical method that does not make any changes to the sample. With the operating base of a confocal microscope commonly used in different fields of science, it allows to create high-resolution 3D images quickly and automatically, as well as obtaining color images thanks to the use of three LEDs: Red, Green and Blue. With the available objectives, it is possible to measure from more macroscopic samples such as screws used as dental implants to be able to observe bacterial colonies composed of bacteria the size of a micron. This will make it possible to measure the roughness of any sample covering the range of roughness between a magnifying glass, which gives a more macroscopic view, and the atomic force microscope capable of measuring nanometric roughness (10 ^ -9 m). In addition, this equipment also works as an interferometer that allows to measure the roughness with greater precision of mirror polished samples in a simple way, obtaining images of higher resolution than any confocal technique.

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II Conference on Nanotoxicity, organised by Nanomed Spain, NANBIOSIS and Materplat, Sept. 22

NANBIOSIS is organizing an on-line Conference on Nanotoxicity in collaboration with Nanomed Spain and Materplat, next September 22, to debate about the efect of nanotoxicity of nanoparticles and nanotechnologies in health.

Nanotechnology, a science involved in the design, production, and use of structures and objects that have at least one of their dimensions on the scale of 100 nanometers or less, is enabling progress to be made in various areas with far-reaching repercussions. scope for society. Currently, there are several areas in which nanotechnology is under development or even in the practical application phase.

However, manufactured nanoparticles can have very different properties and effects than those of the same materials in conventional sizes, which can pose new risks to human and other species’ health. Some nanoparticles, which are used as a vehicle for the drugs to reach the desired cells in greater quantity, to reduce the side effects of the drug in other organs or for both, have the same dimensions as certain biological molecules and can interact with them.

The increase in potential health risks has created a new discipline, nanotoxicity, that is, the study of toxicity produced by the effect of nanoparticles and nanomaterials. The objective of this conference, co-organized by the advanced materials and nanomaterials platform (MATERPLAT), NANBIOSIS ICTS and the nanomedicine platform (Nanomed Spain), is to learn more about the lines that are being followed in research in the area of ​​nanotoxicity, the progress of different projects in this field, as well as existing tools to understand and reduce the toxicity of nanoparticles and nanomaterials.

The event will count with the expertise of Marisa Gonzalez, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit, speaking about Surface characterization of micro and nanoplastics among other experts.

The assistance is free but it is necessary to register. For further information, agenda and registration click here 

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Scientific trends with the participation of NANBIOSIS expertise

Within the series of virtual conferences organized during the months of May, June and July by the Extremaduran office, two researchers of NANBIOSIS are invited speakers: Laura M. Lechuga Gómez, NANBIOSIS Unit 4 Biodeposition and Biodetection Unit (form CIBER-BBN and ICN2-CSIC); and María Coronada Fernández Calderón NANBIOSIS U16 Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit (from CIBER-BBN and University of Extremadura)who will talk about technologies at the service of health.

The cycle ’90 minutes for Science, for innovation to bring society closer to the latest scientific trends, starts next Wednesday, May 27, at 5:00 p.m. It will deal with topics such as biomedical research and its influence on the improvement of early diagnosis of diseases (the director of the Department of Immunology and Oncology of the CSIC National Biotechnology Center, Ana Cuenda Méndez, will offer a conference on the role of proteins in inflammatory, infectious and cancer processes, and the engineer in Molecular Biotechnology and principal investigator in the Laboratory of Medical Biotechnology of the Austral University of Chile, Alejandro Rojas-Fernández, will address the generation of nano-antibodies against emerging viruses, such as COVID19), ethics in the face of the challenges of artificial intelligence.

Registration, open and free, can now be formalized on the website of the Office for Innovation.

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Unit 16 of NANBIOSIS will expand its capabilities with cofinancing of FEDER funds

On October 25, the Monitoring Commission of the agreement signed on July 15 was established by the Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness and the University of Extremadura for the acquisition of new equipment that will expand the capabilities of Unit 16 of NANBIOSIS.

One of the 26 Units that constitute NANBIOSIS is Unit 16 “Unit of Surface Characterization and Calorimetry” of CIBER-BBN and the University of Extremadura. The application of this FEDER cofinancing will allow the expansion of the capabilities of this unit for the chemical, physicochemical, and topographic characterization of surfaces, improving the competences in mass spectrometry by time of flight of secondary ions (TOF-SIMS), photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and extending them to the profilometry goniometry and goniometry. The requested equipment will be located on the Badajoz campus of the University of Extremadura, where Unit 16 of NANBIOSIS is located.

The total budget of the project is € 1,380,000, 80% of which are co-financed with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (FEDER) corresponding to the Spanish Multi-Regional Operational Program 2014-2020, allocated to the General Secretariat for Coordination of Scientific Policy of the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities destined to finance projects and actions related to infrastructures included in the current ICTS Map. The remaining 20% ​​is contributed by the Junta de Extremadura.

Further information here

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Agreement signed with Spanish Goverment for the allocation of FEDER funds for NANBIOSIS ICTS

In the framework of the FEDER Program in ICTS 2014-2020, a projects related to the ICTS NANBIOSIS has been selected by the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities for co-financing with FEDER funds of the European Regional Development Funds program.

An agreement has been signed between Ministry of Science, Innovation and University of Extremadura, institution that houses NANBIOSIS unit 16 for the co-financing of the Project FICTS1420-14-09: “Compra e instalación y puesta a punto de equipamiento de caracterización para complementar la Unidad 16 de NANBIOSIS – Surface Characterization and Calorimetry Unit –NANBIOSISU16”.

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