Looking at the future with a fine toothcomb… Polymer nanostructures for biomedical applications
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Today we present you a project that is coordinated from Eduardo Fernández Megía, named Polymer nanostructures for biomedical applications.
Project: Polymer nanostructures for biomedical applications
Research group: GI-1608 – Nanomaterials and bioactive molecules
Institution: CIQUS (University of Santiago de Compostela – USC)
Principal Investigator: Eduardo Fernández Megía
The theme of our research is the preparation, functionalisation and characterisation of polymer materials with which to construct nanometric systems with applications in biomedicine, transport of drugs and diagnostics.
Among these materials, dendrimers capture much of our attention. They are synthetic macromolecules which, unlike classic polymers, are globe-shaped and are of a controlled size, thus conferring them completely differentiated physical properties.
Several dendrimers prepared in our laboratory have proven useful in gene therapy as contrast agents in resonance or interfering with the aggregation of peptides and proteins of relevance for diseases like HIV or Alzheimer’s.
One of our areas with more activity is preparing micelles that can be employed in the transport of drugs and in diagnostics, and the results obtained have been patented nationally and internationally.
We are also quite involved in developing more efficient methods to prepare dendrimers, and also in developing tools that allow us to obtain more in-depth knowledge of the properties of dentrimers and polymers.
Finally, the fact that dendrimers have functional groups on their surface converts them into powerful nanotools to be used for studying biological interactions. This work, which has been done in collaboration with Eva Muñoz (a Parga Pondal researcher), has enabled us to obtain in-depth knowledge about the interactions between sugars and proteins, these being interactions typically involved in processes like fertilisation or in viruses or bacteria recognition phases.
Phase the project is currently in
This project is constantly evolving and we try to make full use of the synergies among the various areas, so we are continuously exploring different possibilities and are beginning new projects that complement not only the working areas underway, but also the knowledge and experience acquired from previously finished phases.
We currently have two patents linked to this research line which have been extended to Europe and the USA.
The nature of such a project requires an extensive network of collaborators who, by sharing a common interest, possess complementary capacities; for instance in our case, research groups that test the effectiveness of our systems in cells or in vivo.
On other occasions, these groups contact us because they are interested in our systems or our experience in preparing conjugates or nanosystems with their own proteins, nucleic acids or ligands in order to improve the potential of their biomedical utility.
In this context, we have active collaboration agreements and several other agreements underway with many groups in and beyond the UE and, evidently, also in Campus Vida. We are working on consolidating these relations within the frame of joint international research projects.