Where Ideas Grow

BioEngineered Surfaces


The BioEngineered Surfaces (BeSurf) group focuses on nanotechnology approaches for surface modification of biomaterials to fight infection and improve hemocompatibility of medical devices.

We use self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) & biomedical polymers to incorporate molecules (antimicrobial peptides (AMP); fatty acid-like compounds; glycans and other polysaccharides) that will guide specific protein/cell binding and control bacterial adhesion and/or thrombus formation. Besides fundamental research, the group is also committed to transfer the knowledge created through patent applications in collaboration with industrial partners. For the development of these biomaterial surfaces, different approaches are being followed depending on the final medical application:



Biomaterials to fight gastric infection

Helicobacter pylori is a Gram-negative bacterium that infects more than 50% of the worldwide population. It is the etiological agent of several gastro-duodenal diseases and responsible for 75% of the global gastric cancer burden. The group has been developing antibiotic-free engineered biomaterials for H. pylori gastric infection management. These strategies are based on orally administered micro/nanoparticles that, by being specific to H. pylori cells are able to kill them in situ or to capture and remove them from infected hosts, without affecting other bacteria from the gut microbiota. The efficacy of the different approaches is studied in vitro using H. pylori and gastric cell lines and in vivo using a H. pylori-infected mice model.
Selected Publications: Fonseca2022/Henriques2020/Seabra2018/Parreira2019



Biomaterials-associated infection & thrombus formation

Biomaterials-associated infection is a major threat in all medical devices since, after surface colonization, pathogens can produce biofilm protecting them from the host immune system and available therapies. Moreover, thrombus formation is also a serious concern associated with blood contacting medical devices. The group has been developing biomaterials and coatings with antimicrobial properties to kill bacteria by contact or with anti-adhesive features to avoid bacterial adhesion and thrombus formation.

Antimicrobial Peptides (AMPs) are explored for the creation of anti-infective implant coatings for tissue repair, namely for orthopaedic applications and prevention/treatment of skin wound infections. Different strategies for AMPs grafting onto biomaterials are explored in order to maximize their bactericidal activity after surface binding.
Selected Publications: Monteiro2020/Barbosa2019/Costa2017/Costa2015

Anti-adhesive coatings are investigated using two main approaches namely i) albumin-binding coatings due to albumin “passivant” effect and ii) polysaccharides coatings based on extracellular polymer released by marine cyanobacteria. Selected Publications: Felgueiras2017/Matinha-Cardoso2021



  • AntINFECT - Bioengineered Advanced Therapies for Problematic Infected Wounds (POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031781). PI: Cristina Martins
  • Bio2Skin Advanced - Development of a new generation of adhesives with antiseptic, regenerative and adhesive proprieties to prevent and/or treat skin lesions caused by the use of conventional medical adhesives. Project in co-promotion with the company BestHealth4u (NORTE-01-0247-FEDER-047225)
Chitosan microsphere (in red) with adherent Helicobacter pylori (in green)


Selected Publications

Seabra C.L., Nunes C., Brás M., Gomez-Lazaro M., Reis C.A., Gonçalves I.C., Reis S., Martins M.C.L.,
Lipid nanoparticles to counteract gastric infection without affecting gut microbiota. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics127:378-386, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 18] [IF: 4,7]
DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2018.02.030 SCOPUS: 85044023662

Henriques P.C., Costa L.M., Seabra C.L., Antunes B., Silva-Carvalho R., Junqueira-Neto S., Maia A.F., Oliveira P., Magalhães A., Reis C.A., Gartner F., Touati E., Gomes J., Costa P., Martins M.C., Gonçalves I.C.,
Orally administrated chitosan microspheres bind Helicobacter pylori and decrease gastric infection in mice. Acta Biomaterialia114:206-220, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 10] [IF: 8,9]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2020.06.035 SCOPUS: 85088806369

Parreira P., Monteiro C., Graça V., Gomes J., Maia S., Gomes P., Gonçalves I.C., Martins M.C.L.,
Surface Grafted MSI-78A Antimicrobial Peptide has High Potential for Gastric Infection Management. Scientific Reports9(1):, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 9] [IF: 4]
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-53918-4 SCOPUS: 85075982293

Monteiro C., Fernandes H., Oliveira D., Vale N., Barbosa M., Gomes P., Martins M.C.L.,
AMP-chitosan coating with bactericidal activity in the presence of human plasma proteins. Molecules25(13):, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 4,4]
DOI: 10.3390/molecules25133046 SCOPUS: 85087666295

Barbosa M., Costa F., Monteiro C., Duarte F., Martins M.C.L., Gomes P.,
Antimicrobial coatings prepared from Dhvar-5-click-grafted chitosan powders. Acta Biomaterialia84:242-256, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 31] [IF: 7,2]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.12.001 SCOPUS: 85058393291

Costa F.M.T.A., Maia S.R., Gomes P.A.C., Martins M.C.L.,
Dhvar5 antimicrobial peptide (AMP) chemoselective covalent immobilization results on higher antiadherence effect than simple physical adsorption. Biomaterials52(1):531-538, 2015. [Journal: Article] [CI: 59] [IF: 8,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2015.02.049 SCOPUS: 84932632783

Costa F., Carvalho I.F., Montelaro R.C., Gomes P., Martins M.C.L.,
Covalent immobilization of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) onto biomaterial surfaces. Acta Biomaterialia7(4):1431-1440, 2011. [Journal: Review] [CI: 426] [IF: 4,9]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2010.11.005 SCOPUS: 79952187401

Costa F., Sousa D.M., Parreira P., Lamghari M., Gomes P., Martins M.C.L.,
N-acetylcysteine-functionalized coating avoids bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation. Scientific Reports7(1):, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 37] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-17310-4 SCOPUS: 85037721926

Matinha-Cardoso J., Mota R., Gomes L.C., Gomes M., Mergulhão F.J., Tamagnini P., Martins M.C.L., Costa F.,
Surface activation of medical grade polyurethane for the covalent immobilization of an anti-adhesive biopolymeric coating. Journal of Materials Chemistry B9(17):3705-3715, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 4] [IF: 7,6]
DOI: 10.1039/d1tb00278c SCOPUS: 85105524958

Felgueiras H.P., Wang L.M., Ren K.F., Querido M.M., Jin Q., Barbosa M.A., Ji J., Martins M.C.L.,
Octadecyl Chains Immobilized onto Hyaluronic Acid Coatings by Thiol-ene “Click Chemistry” Increase the Surface Antimicrobial Properties and Prevent Platelet Adhesion and Activation to Polyurethane. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces9(9):7979-7989, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 41] [IF: 8,1]
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.6b16415 SCOPUS: 85014824553