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U18. Nanotoxicology Unit

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U18. Nanotoxicology Unit

    • Scientific Director: Prof. RamonMangues rmangues@santpau.cat
    • Scientific Coordinator: Isolda Casanova ICasanova@santpau.cat
    • Entities: Institut de Recerca. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau & Institut de Recerca de Hospital Universitari Vall D’Hebron
    • Address: Hospital Santa Pau. c/Sant Antoni M. Claret, 167, 08025, Barcelona, Spain | Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron. Passeig Vall D’Hebron, 119-129, 08035, Barcelona, Spain
    • Phone: +34 935 537 918
    • Web: WEB
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This Unit is located in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, in Barcelona, and is coordinated by Dr. Ramón Mangues, PI of the Oncogenesis and Antitumor Drug Group. The main objective of the Nanotoxicology Unit is to assess the toxicity of new drugs, nanoparticles or nanotechnology-based biomaterials in in vitro and in vivo systems, with the goal of optimizing lead compounds and identifying those with the highest probability of success in the preclinical programme due to their greater safety and tolerability or reduced toxicity. The Unit has rooms equipped for cell culture, for cryopreservation of samples and cell lines, and for sample preparation and analysis and animal facilities for in vivo experimentation.

Equipment: The Unit has access to flow cytometers, sorters, confocal microscope and other equipment of the Platforms available at the Hospital Research Institute as well as housing facilities for small rodents (rat and mouse).

Active projects

TitleFundin: OrganismCall: Funding source Role
ICTS-2017-10-CIBER-2Acquisition and istallation of infrastrucuture to complemntUnis 3-Synthesis of Peptides, U18-Nanotoxicology y U20-In vivoExperimentMinisterio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (MINECO)Programa Operativo FEDER de Crecimiento Inteligente 2014-2020 (POCInt)Coordinator
SAF2017-90810-REDIStrategic Promotion and coordinated management of Nanbiosis: Pronanbiosis IIAgencia Estatal de Investigación (AEI)Acciones de dinamización «REDES DE EXCELENCIA» -ICTS 2017Coordinator

Other projects

RefTitleFunding OrganismUnit Role
PI15/00378Intelligent nanoconjugates for targeted therapy of metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC)Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIWorking package
PIE15/00028Targeted nanocongugates for the selective elimination of stem cells in disseminated cancerInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIWorking package
PI15/00272Design of intelligent nanoconjugates for the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer.Instituto de Salud Carlos IIIParticipant
CP15/00163Maria Virtudes Céspedes Navarro Contracts Miguel Servet Type IInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIWorking package
CD14/00055Contract SARA BORRELLInstituto de Salud Carlos IIIWorking package
Marato 416/C/2030TV32013-132031Genotoxic nanoparticles targeting colorectal cancer stem cellsMarato TV3Participant



  • Cespedes M.V., Guillen M.J., Lopez-Casas P.P., Sarno F., Gallardo A., Alamo P. et al. Lurbinectedin induces depletion of tumor-associated macrophages, an essential component of its in vivo synergism with gem;citabine, in pancreatic adenocarcinoma mouse models. DMM Disease Models and Mechanisms. 2016;9(12):1461-1471.
  • Rueda F., Cespedes M.V., Sanchez-Chardi A., Seras-Franzoso J., Pesarrodona M., Ferrer-Miralles N. et al. Structural and functional features of self-assembling protein nanoparticles produced in endotoxin-free Escherichia coli. Microbial Cell Factories. 2016;15(1):-.
  • Céspedes MV, Unzueta U, Álamo P, Gallardo A, Sala R, Casanova I et al. Cancer-specific uptake of a liganded protein nanocarrier targeting aggressive CXCR4+ colorectal cancer models.Nanomedicine : nanotechnology, biology, and medicine. 2016;12(7):-.
  • Cespedes M.V., Fernandez Y., Unzueta U., Mendoza R., Seras-Franzoso J., Sanchez-Chardi A. et al. Bacterial mimetics of endocrine secretory granules as immobilized in vivo depots for functional protein drugs. Scientific Reports. 2016;6:-.
  • Vazquez E., Mangues R., Villaverde A.. Functional recruitment for drug delivery through protein-based nanotechnologies. Nanomedicine. 2016;11(11):1333-1336.
  • Serna N., Cespedes M.V., Saccardo P., Xu Z., Unzueta U., Alamo P. et al. Rational engineering of single-chain polypeptides into protein-only, BBB-targeted nanoparticles. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine. 2016;12(5):1241-1251.
  • Cano-Garrido O, Céspedes MV, Unzueta U, Saccardo P, Roldán M, Sánchez-Chardi A et al. CXCR4(+)-targeted protein nanoparticles produced in the food-grade bacterium Lactococcus lactis.Nanomedicine (London, England). 2016;11(18):-.
  • Rueda F., Gasser B., Sanchez-Chardi A., Roldan M., Villegas S., Puxbaum V. et al. Functional inclusion bodies produced in the yeast Pichia pastoris. Microbial Cell Factories. 2016;15(1):-.
  • Pesarrodona M., Fernandez Y., Foradada L., Sanchez-Chardi A., Conchillo-Sole O., Unzueta U. et al. Conformational and functional variants of CD44-targeted protein nanoparticles bio-produced in bacteria. Biofabrication. 2016;8(2):-.

News U18

09 Jul

A new nanoconjugate blocks acute myeloid leukemia tumor cells without harming healthy ones

Researchers from NANBIOSIS U18 Nanotoxicology Unit at the Institut d’Investigació Biomèdica de Sant Pau (IIB Sant Pau) and NANBIOSIS U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) toghether with researchers of Institut de Recerca contra la Leucèmia Josep Carreras (IJC) have demonstrated the efficacy of a new nanoconjugate, designed in house, that blocks dissemination of leukemic cells in animal models of acute myeloid leukemia. These results have been published in a high impact scientific journal in the field of oncology and hematology, Journal of Hematology and Oncology. Most of the experimental work has been performed in[...]

11 May

NANBIOSIS Scientists discover a promising effective alternative to reduse relapse rates in Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma Cells

Researchers of NANBIOSIS-ICTS Units from CIBER-BBN: U1 Protein Production Platform (PPP) at IBB-UAB, led by Antoni Villaverde and Unit 18 Nanotoxicology Unit at IBB-Hospital Sant Pau, led by Ramón Mangues, have demonstrated a potent T22-PE24-H6 antineoplastic effect, especially in blocking dissemination in a CXCR4+ DLBCL model without associated toxicity. Thereby, T22-PE24-H6 promises to become an effective alternative to treat CXCR4+ disseminated refractory or relapsed DLBCL patients. Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a cancer of B cells, a type of lymphocyte that is responsible for producing antibodies. It is the most common form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma among adults, with an annual incidence of 7–8 cases per 100,000 people per year in the US and[...]

10 Feb

A new smart drug that finds and kills metastasis cells could be applied in 23 types of cancer

Researchers of two CIBER-BBN Units of the ICTS NANBIOSIS  U18 Nanotoxicology Unit at Hospital Sant Pau. and U1, Protein Production Platform (PPP), at the  Institute of Biotechnology and biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB–UAB), led by Prof Ramón Mangues, have developed a new drug that selectively removes metastatic stem cells, inducing a powerful metastasis prevention effect. Besides the participation of the “NANBIOSIS” ICTS Units U1 Protein Production Platform where Protein production was partially performed and U18 Nantoxicology Unit where Biodistribution studies were performed, all in vivo experiments were performed by the Unit 20 In Vivo Experimental Platform of CIBER[...]

04 Feb

NANBIOSIS research to fight cancer

Twenty years ago, the 4 February was declared World Cancer Day with the global challenge of cancer would not be forgotten. Since then, huge progress has been made to understand, prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer. NANBIOSIS as an ICTS (Singular Scientific and Technical infrastructures) for biomedical research plays a very important role in the fight against cancer. Some examples of the work carried out during the last year, are bellow: Unit 20 of NANBIOSIS  at VHIR, works in several proyects reletaed to cancer as  H2020-NoCanTher: magnetic nanoparticles against pancreatic cancer through the use of hyperthermia combined with conventional treatment. H2020-Target-4-Cancer: nanotherapy based on polymeric micelles directed against[...]

16 Jan

New nanocarrier for bio-imaging and drug-delivery applications

Researchers of CIBER-BBN and NANBIOSIS-ICTS (U6 Biomaterial Processing and Nanostructuring Unit at ICMAB-CSIC and U18 Nanotoxicology Unit at  Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau have developed a new nanocarrier for bio-imaging and drug-delivery applications The new nanovesicle formulation is based on the quatsome architecture – which stands out due to the high colloidal stability and homogeneity in size – and has now been shown to be suitable for in vivo dosing. Quatsomes are new non-liposomal lipid-based nanovesicles that have been developed by Nanomol group in recent years, and have been shown to be highly homogeneous and stable in[...]

30 Dec

A step forward for the design of multifunctional protein nanomaterials for cancer therapies

Researchers of NANBIOSIS Unit 1 and NANBIOSIS Unit 18, led by Prof Antoni Villaverde have published the article at the prestigious scintific magazine titled Collaborative membrane activity and receptor-dependent tumor cell targeting for precise nanoparticle delivery in CXCR4+ colorectal cancer The researchers have shown that the combination of cell-penetrating and tumor cell-targeting peptides dramatically enhances precise tumor accumulation of protein-only nanoparticles intended for selective drug delivery, in mouse models of human colorectal cancer. This fact is a step forward for the rational design of multifunctional protein nanomaterials for improved cancer therapies. Protein production has been partially performed by the  ICTS NANBIOSIS U1, Protein Production Platform[...]

27 Dec

Why the poor biodistribution so far reached by tumor-targeted medicines?

Cell-selective targeting is expected to enhance effectiveness and minimize side effects of cytotoxic agents. Functionalization of drugs or drug nanoconjugates with specific cell ligands allows receptor-mediated selective cell delivery. However, it is unclear whether the incorporation of an efficient ligand into a drug vehicle is sufficient to ensure proper biodistribution upon systemic administration, and also at which extent biophysical properties of the vehicle may contribute to the accumulation in target tissues during active targeting. To approach this issue, structural robustness of self-assembling, protein-only nanoparticles targeted to the tumoral marker CXCR4 is compromised by reducing the number of histidine residues (from[...]

23 Dec

Artificial inclusion bodies for controlled drug release

Researchers from NANBIOSIS-CIBER-BBN have developed a new type of protein biomaterial that allows a continuous release over time of therapeutic proteins when administered subcutaneously in laboratory animals. These results are the result of the stable scientific collaboration between the researchers of NANBIOSIS Units 1 Protein Production Platform (PPP)and 18 Nanotoxicology Unit, led by Toni Villaverde and Ramón Mangues at the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (IBB-UAB) and the Institut About the Hospital de Sant Pau and has had the participation of the Institute of Biological and Technological Research of the National University of Córdoba-CONICET,[...]