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P3 Nanotechnology for Health-Care

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About the Programme

This programme is focused on the development of novel nanotechnologies for medical applications on three different areas: NanoOncology (Translational developments for cancer treatment and diagnosis), NanoDiagnosis (development of new colorimetric tests for biological threats), and NanoNeurology (Nanotech based developments for neurodegenerative diseases). The programme is highly multi- and interdisciplinary character, combining the concerted effort of biologists, chemists, physicists and medical doctors pursuing a common objective, which is only possible in few places worldwide, among them IMDEA Nano. We build on the translational aspects of some of our technologies to bring them closer to the clinic with the aim for better, more efficient, and cost-effective therapeutic and diagnostic tools. The programme is in close collaboration with research programmes P1 and P4.

One of the important areas is the preparation and use of multifunctional nanoparticles (NPs) in Oncology, in particular for cancer treatment and diagnosis. Magnetic NPs selectively target tumours for multimodal treatment as drug nanocarriers and heating inductors. In search of efficiency in the fight against cancer, the need to reduce toxic side effects associated with cancer therapies is investigated by using different strategies, (i) self immolative linkers that attach drugs to nanoparticles and release a drug once in target cells and (ii) design of new pH-sensitive chemotherapeutic agents that can be activated by the tumor micro-environment. The development and utilisation of nanotechnology can further the search for new cancer therapies and this knowledge will impact across this multidisciplinary community.

The generation of sensors based on nanoparticles for detection of targets of medical interest aims to exploit the higher sensitivity and specificity of nanostructure-based diagnostics platforms for Biological Threats (including emergent viruses). One example is the use of nucleic acid conjugated gold nanoparticles to detect different biomarkers involved in diseases such as uveal melanoma, pancreatic cancer, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and virus SARS COV-2. Another area of interest is the use of nanotechnology-based solutions to the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Nanostructures and NPs with antibacterial properties that rely on different antibacterial mechanisms are being investigated as promising alternatives to antibiotics. Selective bacterial entrapping nanotextures are also under development as bacteria sensor platforms.

NanoNeurology investigations face the challenges related to neurological disorders from two fundamental complementary approaches: pharmacological and technological, with a special focus on the advantages of nanoscopic systems and nanodevice fabrication in the search for solutions that help understand, alleviate and/or prevent these disorders. The activities are basis on the development of sensors for the precise measurement of pharmacological action of tailored multi-target compounds as well as on the development of neural interfaces based on nanotechnology that allow monitoring and stimulating the activity of the nervous tissue. We focus in particular on neurodegenerative diseases, which are increasingly prevalent in developed countries due to increased life expectancy.

Programme Manager: Prof. Rodolfo Miranda.


Research lines