creating a
healthier future

Nanomedicines & Translational Drug Delivery


The group is focused on drug delivery systems, with special attention on nanotechnology, and their application to the pharmaceutical and biomedical fields. The group is interested in engineering nanomedicines by identifying novel biological targets, proposing new functional ligands and producing tailored nanoplatforms for the delivery of therapeutic molecules for managing cancer, diabetes, infection and inflammatory diseases.



Our scientific achievements share the keywords of drug delivery, nanomedicine, targeted and multifunctional nanoparticles, 3D cellular models, mucosal delivery, biopharmaceuticals, cancer, diabetes and infection.
Our specific lines of research focus on:

Advanced biomaterials - Characterize and validate functionalized biomaterials for drug delivery, tissue engineering and regeneration applications. Our focus is on functionalized polymers with active ligand moieties to target biological receptors.

Scalable nanofabrication - Establish functionalized multifunctional nanoparticles with efficient biofunctional moieties that target specific receptors, using biomaterials and translatable nanofabrication methods, considering cellular and molecular bioengineering concepts. The group contributed to the development of novel nanoformulations for small molecules, biomacromolecules and biopharmaceuticals.

Reliable 3D cell-based models - Set up 3D in vitro cell-based models and organ-on-a-chip platforms, closely resembling the basic characteristics of healthy and injured tissues, with special emphasis on intestinal, pulmonary tissues and tumors. These models allow to identify mechanisms of drug and nanoparticle absorption and correlate with in vivo extrapolation and validation.

Pre-clinical in vivo assessment - Monitor in real-time in vivo efficacy of therapeutic nanomedicines in animal models and generate patented nanotechnology that can be translated to delivery of many types of drugs able to enter clinical trials. Diabetes, gastrointestinal cancers and infectious are the prioritized areas of interest.

We are driven to embrace the transdisciplinary character of i3S and internally establish effective collaborations to foster synergies and common research interests, shared supervisions and joined research projects and scientific technology. We pursue international visibility of i3S through the achievement of excellence in research, the establishment of collaborations with world leaders in complementary scientific areas and deliver technologies to biomedical and pharmaceutical companies.

The group has attracted direct competitive national funding worth more than 15 M€ at national and international levels. The group published more than 450 papers in scientific journals, generated patented nanotechnology-based solutions that can be readily translated into clinical testing and established an extensive network of national and international collaborators.

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Scanning electron microscope images of insulin-loaded PLGA nanoparticles


Selected Publications

Carvalho A.M., Bansal R., Barrias C.C., Sarmento B.,
The Material World of 3D-Bioprinted and Microfluidic-Chip Models of Human Liver Fibrosis. Advanced Materials36(2):, 2024. [Journal: Review] [IF: 29,4 (*)]
DOI: 10.1002/adma.202307673 SCOPUS: 85177197944

Pinto S., Hosseini M., Buckley S.T., Yin W., Garousi J., Gräslund T., van Ijzendoorn S., Santos H.A., Sarmento B.,
Nanoparticles targeting the intestinal Fc receptor enhance intestinal cellular trafficking of semaglutide. Journal of Controlled Release366:621-636, 2024. [Journal: Article] [IF: 10,8 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2024.01.015 SCOPUS: 85182731048

Martins C., Araújo M., Malfanti A., Pacheco C., Smith S.J., Ucakar B., Rahman R., Aylott J.W., Préat V., Sarmento B.,
Stimuli-Responsive Multifunctional Nanomedicine for Enhanced Glioblastoma Chemotherapy Augments Multistage Blood-to-Brain Trafficking and Tumor Targeting. Small19(22):, 2023. [Journal: Article] [CI: 5] [IF: 13,3 (*)]
DOI: 10.1002/smll.202300029 SCOPUS: 85149319530

Martins C., Pacheco C., Moreira-Barbosa C., Marques-Magalhães Â., Dias S., Araújo M., Oliveira M.J., Sarmento B.,
Glioblastoma immuno-endothelial multicellular microtissue as a 3D in vitro evaluation tool of anti-cancer nano-therapeutics. Journal of Controlled Release353:77-95, 2023. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 10,8 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2022.11.024 SCOPUS: 85143777496

Moura R.P., Carvalho E.D., Martins C., des Rieux A., Pêgo A.P., Sarmento B.,
Functionalized retinoic acid lipid nanocapsules promotes a two-front attack on inflammation and lack of demyelination on neurodegenerative disorders. Journal of Controlled Release358:43-58, 2023. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 10,8 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2023.04.034 SCOPUS: 85153574869

Pacheco C., Baião A., Ding T., Cui W., Sarmento B.,
Recent advances in long-acting drug delivery systems for anticancer drug. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews194:, 2023. [Journal: Review] [CI: 24] [IF: 16,1 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.addr.2023.114724 SCOPUS: 85147545352

Almeida A., Castro F., Resende C., Lúcio M., Schwartz S., Sarmento B.,
Oral delivery of camptothecin-loaded multifunctional chitosan-based micelles is effective in reduce colorectal cancer. Journal of Controlled Release349:731-743, 2022. [Journal: Article] [CI: 12] [IF: 10,8]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2022.07.029 SCOPUS: 85135197951

Macedo M.H., Barros A.S., Martínez E., Barrias C.C., Sarmento B.,
All layers matter: Innovative three-dimensional epithelium-stroma-endothelium intestinal model for reliable permeability outcomes. Journal of Controlled Release341:414-430, 2022. [Journal: Article] [CI: 9] [IF: 10,8]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.11.048 SCOPUS: 85120638989

Najibi A.J., Dellacherie M.O., Shih T.Y., Doherty E.J., White D.A., Bauleth-Ramos T., Stafford A.G., Weaver J.C., Yeager C.D., Seiler B.T., Pezone M., Li A.W., Sarmento B., Santos H.A., Mooney D.J., Gu L.,
Scaffold Vaccines for Generating Robust and Tunable Antibody Responses. Advanced Functional Materials32(16):, 2022. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 19]
DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202110905 SCOPUS: 85122687035

Talebian S., Rodrigues T., Das Neves J., Sarmento B., Langer R., Conde J.,
Facts and Figures on Materials Science and Nanotechnology Progress and Investment. ACS Nano15(10):15940-15952, 2021. [Journal: Article] [CI: 42] [IF: 18]
DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.1c03992 SCOPUS: 85112525556

Ongoing Projects

Dispositivo intrauterino para co-libertação de levonorgestrel e de dapivirina para prevenção da gravidez e da transmissão sexual do VIH-1
Reference: Gilead GENESE 2021 - Proj. 13605 - PO 205012074
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: Gilead Sciences
From 01-JAN-22 to 31-DEC-24
RESOLVE: Rational Design of Multivalent Glycocode-Inspired Nanovaccines for Gastric Cancer Immunotherapy
Reference: PTDC/MED-OUT/2512/2021
Proponent: Instituto Português de Oncologia do Porto FG, EPE
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 01-JAN-22 to 31-DEC-24
Multifunctional cell membrane-camouflaged polymeric micelles for combination therapy of colorectal cancer
Reference: PTDC/NAN-MAT/1431/2021
Proponent: Universidade de Coimbra
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 23-JAN-22 to 22-JAN-25
Oral delivery of encapsulated RNA nanotherapeutics for targeted treatment of ileal Crohn's disease
Reference: HORIZON-HLTH-2021-TOOL-06-02-RIA - GA 101057491
Proponent: University College Cork - National Univers Ireland
Sponsor: CE - Comissão Europeia
From 01-OCT-22 to 30-SEP-26
Multicompartment combinatory pre-clinical model for melanoma drug screening
Reference: HORIZON-TMA-MSCA-PF-EF - GA 101106824
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: CE - Comissão Europeia
From 01-JUN-23 to 31-MAY-25
Bio-inspired and Bioengineered Technology for OSteosarcoma – unraveling OS to advance in OS targeted therapies
Reference: Bolsa em Sarcomas Pediatricos 2022 - NONO
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: Liga Portuguesa Contra o Cancro (LPCC)
From 01-NOV-22 to 30-NOV-24
Osteosarcoma in vitro 3D tool to screen immunomodulatory nanomedicines
Reference: Premio AEFCM 2023-Poster Innovate Competition 15.0
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: Associação de Estudantes da NOVA Medical School
From 01-DEC-23 to 30-NOV-24
Modelling osteosarcoma In vitro: a novel on-Chip platform to unravel KEY mechanisms of lung metastasis towards new therapies development and screening
Reference: 2023.00095.RESTART
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia
From 01-JAN-24 to 30-JUN-25
Oxidative-responsive nanomedicines for managing inflammatory bowel disease
Reference: CCF- Litwin IBD Pioneers 2023 - Award #1247220
Proponent: Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde - Universidade do Porto
Sponsor: Crohn's & Colitis Foundation (CCF)
From 01-JAN-24 to 31-DEC-24