Our laboratory is interested in the development of intracellular silicon nanostructured microdevices that can perform different functions in living cells. These microdevices might be used as mechanical tools able to sense physical parameters, like pressure or force, or can be functionalized with biomolecules to detect intracellular parameters like pH or oxidation levels, or they can be carriers for drug delivery. We have developed the technology to introduce these sophisticated microdevices in different model systems (human and mouse cells, Dictyostelium, primary cultures, mouse retina) and we aim to use them to contribute to different biological problems.
Our present projects have four goals:
-Functionalization with smart molecules, able to free their cargo in response to a particular stimulus, to achieve tailored intracellular drug delivery.
- Functionalization with probes able to sense the intracellular environment, like pH, Ca++ levels, redox levels.
-Understand the cell interaction with microdevices: how they get inside, which signals they induce, how they interfere with cellular processes like mitosis.
-Fabricate mechanical tools to measure intracellular pressure and forces.
HeLa cell with intracellular pressure sensor
To achieve these objectives we collaborate with the group of Dr Jose Antonio Plaza from Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica (IMB-CNM,CSIC) in Barcelona, that can fabricate millions of identical chips with different mechanical properties and shapes that can be functionalized and with the group of Dr. LLuisa Pérez from Universidad de Barcelona for the chemical functionalization with smart molecules and other bio-probes.
We also collaborate in an international project to develop intracellular antennae that can identify and track individual cells inside the body.
The company A4cells, a CSIC spin-off has started in our laboratory and we collaborate with them in the development of new intracellular chips for specific biomedical applications.
- Torras N, Agusil JP, Vázquez P, Duch M, Hernández-Pinto AM, Samitier J, de la Rosa EJ, Esteve J, Suárez T, Pérez-García L, Plaza JA. . Suspended Planar-Array Chips for Molecular Multiplexing at the Microscale. Adv. Mater. 28,1449-5
- Gómez-Martínez R, Hernández-Pinto AM, Duch M, Vázquez P, Zinoviev K, de la Rosa EJ, Esteve J, Suárez T, Plaza JA  Silicon chips detect intracellular pressure changes in living cells. Nat. Nanotechnol. 8: l517-1521.
Participants: Consuelo González-Manchón, Mariano Redondo y Patricia Vázquez
Head: Teresa Suárez