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News U5

News U5

Nanoparticles in 3D printed bone prostheses that favor regeneration

The research group of Biomaterials for regenerative therapies of CIBER-BBN and IBEC, coordinator of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS, Rapid Prototyping Unit, led by Elisabeth Engel, expert on nanoparticles and biomaterials, together with the company Avinent, expert in 3D printing, will develop new personalized solutions to improve treatments for bone diseases or injury.
So far, they have tested some bioactive nanoparticles based on calcium on the membrane of a chicken embryo and found that blood vessels formed in it and that the cartilage ossified forming a mature bone. The tests were carried out in mice and the result was also positive. The creators of this innovative product point out that, after three years, the prosthesis would have become a bone of its own. Although it could be applied in any part of the body, it seems that the first objective would be to test it in the maxillo-facial area. Experts estimate that more than a year may pass before human trials are conducted.

Source: Pronto Magazine, September 8, 2018

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Biomaterials as signal-releasing platforms

Scientists of the CIBER-BBN and IBEC reserch group Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies, led by Miguel Angel Mateos-Timoneda and Elisabeth Engel who run NANBIOSIS U5. Rapid Prototyping Unit,  have  published a review of the state-of-the-art in biomaterials for skin healing that proposes a move towards more personalized, in situ therapies.

Skin wound healing repairs and restore tissue through a complex process that involves different cells and signalling molecules that regulate cellular response and the remodelling of the extracellular matrix. Publishing in Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, the article begins by summarizing recent advances in therapies for healing that combine biomolecule signals such as growth factors and cytokines with cells.

So far, the application of these therapies is hampered by high costs, a lack of standardization, no scalable processes, and storage and regulatory issues – as well as a lack of real evidence that they work,” explains Oscar Castaño, senior researcher in the  group. “To address this, we suggest concentrating on biomaterials that can act as platforms to generate stimuli that can promote the type of cell activity that encourages skin regeneration.” This strategy of tissue regeneration in situ uses the body’s own capacity for regeneration by mobilizing host endogenous stem cells or tissue-specific progenitor cells to the wound site to promote repair and regeneration. “The aim would be to create instructive microenvironments that combine biomaterial supports with the many different signal cues that happen in wound healing,” says Oscar. “They’d regulate the spatio-temporal delivery of the proper signalling based on the biological mechanisms of the various events that occur.”

Article of reference:

Oscar Castaño, Soledad Pérez-Amodio, Claudia Navarro-Requena, Miguel Angel Mateos-Timoneda, Elisabeth Engel Instructive microenvironments in skin wound healing: Biomaterials as signal releasing platforms.  Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, 129, 95-117, 2018. doi.org/10.1016/j.addr.2018.03.012


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Institutional impulse to accelerate 3D printing projects

Elisabeth Engel,  Scientific Director of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS, U5. Rapid Prototyping Unit, will led the research project, QuirofAM, to produce biodegradable and bioactive scaffolds printed in 3D as osteochondral and maxillofacial substitutes.

This is one of the projects to be promoted by LLAVOR 3D Community, an association of Catalan entities, created last month, which includes the IBEC (housing units 5 and 7 of NANBIOSIS). LLAVOR 3D Community aims to accelerate the development and adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies by the industry.

Within the projects of the LLAVOR 3D Community, new software tools, new materials, more efficient and versatile production processes, new post processes and surface treatments as well as new 3D printing applications will be developed, contributing to the creation of an R & D ecosystem in additive manufacturing technologies reinforcing the position of Catalonia as an international benchmark.

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A dressing with active ingredients to regenerate skin wounds

Elisabeth Engel, Scientific Director of NANBIOSIS U5, Rapid Prototyping Unit, is interviewed in “Deuwatts”, a programe of  Btv, devoted to biomedical engineering. Dr. Engel explains how  they have designed a dressing with active substances to regenerate skin wounds and talks about bio-printing for therapeutic models.

Watch it here.


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NANBIOSIS ICTS invites groups and companies to discuss Smart Biomaterials and devices for Drug Delivery

On February 22nd, the National School of Health of the Carlos III Health Institute hosted the forum on Smart Biomaterials and biomedical devices for applications in drug delivery and regenerative medicine, organized by the ICTS Nanbiosis, an infrastructure shared by the CIBER-BBN and the Center of Minimally Invasive Surgery Jesus Usón (CCMIJU). This is the first groups/companies meeting organized by Nanbiosis, in which about 70 B2B meetings  were held.

The meeting brought together about 40 participants from 14 research groups (from the CIBER-BBN and the CCMIJU) and 10 companies, which discussed the latest advances in the research lines developed by the groups and platforms of Nanbiosis and on the needs and demands of the industry in smart biomaterials and devices for targeted drug delivery and regenerative medicine.

Jesus Izco, Coordinator of Nanbiosis, presented the new Cutting-Edge Biomedical Solutions“, soon available on the ICTS website. These are integrated solutions to advanced challenges in nanomedicine, biomaterials, medical device, and diagnostic that can be developed by several units under a  one-stop shop model, optimized with the experience and scientific and technical knowledge of the research groups of excellence that manage the involved units. Some of the Cutting-edge biomedical solutions presented in the meeting were preclinical validation of biomaterials, mechanical and surface characterization, biocompatibility and studies of biofilm formation and infections.

The CIBER-BBN prsentations were: “Instructive materials for regenerative medicine” by Miguel Ángel Mateos (NANBIOSIS U5 IP: Elisabeth Engel); “Molecular biomaterials for drug delivery and biomedical applications” byNathaly Veronica Segovia (NANBIOSIS U6 / IP Jaume Veciana and Nora Ventosa); “Advances with micro-nano technologies for in vitro devices and point of care” by Rosa Villa (NANBIOSIS U8 ); “Development of new dosage forms for advanced therapies based on new biomaterials” by José Luis Pedraz (NANBIOSIS U10); “Contact lenses functionalized for the prevention of corneal infections” by Jordi Esquena (NANBIOSIS U12 / IP Carlos Rodríguez); “Combined in-silico and in-vitro models of the cell microenvironment and drug delivery effects in cancer and tissue engineering applications” by Fany Peña (NANBIOSIS U13 / IP Miguel Á. Martínez); “Surface of the biomaterial: the first contact with our body” by  Marisa González (NANBIOSIS U16 ); “Use of biomaterials for the repair of soft tissue defects” by Bárbara Pérez Khöler (NANBIOSIS U17 / IP J M. Bellón and Gemma Pascual); “Controlled release systems based on mesoporous materials with molecular doors for applications in therapy and diagnosis” by Ramón Martínez Máñez (NANBIOSIS U26); “New intelligent devices and biomaterials for the treatment of pathologies of the retina and the nervous system” (Eduardo Fernández); and “Near-infrared responsive scaffolds for biomedical applications” (Nuria Vilaboa).

On the part of the CCMJU, the presentations were the following: “Application of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in preclinical models for surgical and cardiovascular research” by Javier García Casado (NANBIOSIS U14); “Regenerative medicine in animal models of cutaneous healing and diabetic models” by Beatriz Moreno (NANBIOSIS U19); “Preclinical studies of biomaterials” by Idoia Díaz-Güemes (NANBIOSIS U21 /IP: FM Sánchez Margallo); “Porcine model of myocardial infarction as a translational research platform in regenerative medicine” by Verónica Crisóstomo (NANBIOSIS U24).

In the turn of the companies, they presented some collaboration opportunities AJL, i-Vascular, Praxis Pharmaceutical, Technical Proteins Nanobiotechnology and REGEMAT 3D; and they also participated in the Rovi, Viscofan, Biomag and Biogelx Laboratories forum.

These meetings, where links are established between research groups and companies, address issues of business and scientific interest, allowing direct contacts between researchers and business managers.

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3D printing biocompatible hydrogels


Researchers of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Montpellier, have laid the groundwork for faster advances in 3D printing for regenerative medicine by creating a system of ink and matrices that offers a solid basis for tissue regeneration.

Due to their high water content, hydrogels are highly attractive biomaterials for 3D printing as efficient ‘surrogates’ for the extracellular matrix, onto which cells can be cultured. However, while they are relatively easy to produce using a method called extrusion printing, their stability and structural integrity can weaken when they’re in contact with biological fluids or extracellular matrices.

The Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies group’s new method uses a hybrid bioink that doesn’t need any photochemical or organic reagent and which safe for use in vivo. Using a versatile and biocompatible method called sol-gel, this bioink can be used to print a peptide-functionalized hydrogel. It’s the first time sol-gel has been used for hydrogel inks, as all examples combining sol-gel and 3D printing have so far dealt either with inorganic constructs or with extrusion printing under nonbiocompatible conditions.

The new matrices work better than current ones because, as well as being biocompatible, certain essential processes such as hydrolysis occur during the printing process, resulting in a much stronger and more reliable structure. The researchers, who worked in collaboration with colleagues in France, were able to successfully seed them with mesenchymal stem cells, and are now looking at the possibility of encapsulating cells within the hybrid ink so that seeding can take place during the construction process.

As well as producing a stronger matrix, the combination of sol-gel chemistry and 3D printing means that the new method could be a promising way to quickly produce an unlimited number of customized, cell-laden, biocompatible structures. Not only that, but using several different hybrid bioinks could open the way to making multilayer and non-homogeneous biomaterials, mimicking the complexity of natural tissues even more closely.

The 3D scaffold fabrication was performed using the facilities of the platform of Production of Biomaterials and Biomolecules of the ICTS “NANBIOSIS”, more specifically by the U5 Unit of the CIBER in Bioengineering, Biomaterials & Nanomedicine (CIBER-BBN) at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC).


Article of reference:

Echalier, R. Levato, M. A. Mateos-Timoneda, O. Castaño, S. Déjean, X. Garric, C. Pinese, D. Noel, E. Engel, J. Martinez, A. Mehdi & G. Subra (2017). Modular bioink for 3D printing of biocompatible hydrogels: sol–gel polymerization of hybrid peptides and polymers. RSC Adv., 2017, 7, 12231-12235.

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EIT Health Spain awards the best innovation and entrepreneurship projects

Elisabeth Engel, Scientific Director of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS, has received an award at EIT Health Spain event held this month at the PCB, Barcelona.  The awards have been organized by the Spanish node during 2016 and are part of the financing initiatives of the EIT Health accelerator.

Professor Engel participated in the category of ‘Proof of Concept (PoC)” that recognises projects and business ideas that are in stages prior to the creation of the company and projects that are participating in acceleration programs in health. Elisabeth won a prize funded with 25.000 € for Dermoglass, the smart dressing for the treatment of chronic wounds. Dermoglass is a novel and biodegradable nanotechnology-based wound dressing that is able to stimulate the re-vascularisation of the affected area. The restored blood supply promotes the arrival of oxygen, nutrients and new cells, leading to the repair of damaged tissue and healed wounds.


EIT Health Spain awards the best innovation and entrepreneurship projects
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Elisabeth Engel stimulating scientific talent in the Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC)

Dr. Engel, Scentific Director of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS, participated in the Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge (BIYSC) held in Barcelona from July 11th to 22nd 2016. Ms. Elisabeth gave the lecture “Biomaterials beyond a simple template”, introducing the students to the breakthrough in the medical and social  field of obtaining a synthetic biomaterial that eludes the need of cell therapy or the application of morphogens and growth factors.

The research group led by Elisabeth Engel hosted one of the projects of this programme: “Instructive Biomaterials for Regenerative Medicine” dealing with replacement or regeneration of human cells, tissues or organs, to restore or establish their normal function where ten students took a course on angiogenesis.

BIYSC is an excellence programme, directed to undergraduate students, aged between 16 and 19 years-old, all around the with the purpose of stimulating scientific talent. It is a multidisciplinary programme (which includes several areas related with NANBIOSIS, like biotechnology, nanotechnology, biochemistry…) introduced by Catalunya – La Pedrera Foundation included lectures, workshops, scientific debates, and visits to international research centres.

Elisabeth Engel stimulating scientific talent in the Barcelona International Youth Science Challenge
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Elizabeth Engel, Scientific Coordinator of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS: “Our research has opened the door to the regeneration of the nervous system by biomaterials”

The CIBER-BBN research group Biomaterials for Regenerative Therapies, which coordinates Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS develops various lines of research on biomaterials for regenerative therapies, especially focusing on the design and fabrication of scaffolds for tissue regeneration. They are working with polymers, hydrogels and compounds that can be manufactured using different techniques such as electrospinning to make 3D printing matrices or scaffolding. Applications are diverse, such as bone regeneration, neuronal, skin or cell therapy.

The group has recently presented the results of a project focused on the development of implants for the regeneration of nerve tissue with very promising results. The study opens the door to the possibility of regenerating the nervous system, since the capacity of cells to dedifferentiate is demonstrated and thus become capable of generating tissue cells. Moreover, these nanofibers scaffolds benefits vascularization (generation of new blood vessels) in the injured area, which promotes regeneration. The study has been shown in laboratory mouse and currently Dr. Alcantara (University of Barcelona), with whom the group is collaborating on this project since 6 years ago, is doing tests in rats to show that new neurons generated are functional.

The new prospects for medicine opened by this finding are very important: The first is the regenerative capacity of the brain. The second, biomaterials play a fundamental role in this regeneration and can open an important way for the development of biomedical devices that advance tissue regeneration using whose regulatory systems to market is much less complex than advanced therapies based cells and growth factors. 3D printing opens a new approach to fabricate this type of implants, as more porous structures can be printed to favor cell colonization and vascularization.

Elizabeth Engel, Scientific Coordinator of Unit 5 of NANBIOSIS: “Our research has opened the door to the regeneration of the nervous system by biomaterials”
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