Where Ideas grow

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 of biopharmaceuticals, with emphasis on insulin, GLP-1/GLP-2 analogues and antibodies.

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 mucosae, with special emphasis on intestinal tissue, in terms of cellular players, mucus and extracellular matrix, 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 the 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 10 M€ at national and international levels. The group published more than 400 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

Team Coordinators


Selected Publications

Andrade F., Rafael D., Vilar-Hernández M., Montero S., Martínez-Trucharte F., Seras-Franzoso J., Díaz-Riascos Z.V., Boullosa A., García-Aranda N., Cámara-Sánchez P., Arango D., Nestor M., Abasolo I., Sarmento B., Schwartz S.,
Polymeric micelles targeted against CD44v6 receptor increase niclosamide efficacy against colorectal cancer stem cells and reduce circulating tumor cells in vivo. Journal of Controlled Release331:198-212, 2021. [Journal: Article] [IF: 7,7 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.01.022 SCOPUS: 85099694621. .

Almeida A., Araújo M., Novoa-Carballal R., Andrade F., Gonçalves H., Reis R.L., Lúcio M., Schwartz S., Sarmento B.,
Novel amphiphilic chitosan micelles as carriers for hydrophobic anticancer drugs. Materials Science and Engineering C112:, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 5,9 (*)]
DOI: 10.1016/j.msec.2020.110920 SCOPUS: 85082759835. .

Xu Y., Gu Y., Cai F., Xi K., Xin T., Tang J., Wu L., Wang Z., Wang F., Deng L., Pereira C.L., Sarmento B., Cui W., Chen L.,
Metabolism Balance Regulation via Antagonist-Functionalized Injectable Microsphere for Nucleus Pulposus Regeneration. Advanced Functional Materials30(52):, 2020. [Journal: Article] [IF: 16,8 (*)]
DOI: 10.1002/adfm.202006333 SCOPUS: 85091482692. .

Sousa F., Dhaliwal H.K., Gattacceca F., Sarmento B., Amiji M.M.,
Enhanced anti-angiogenic effects of bevacizumab in glioblastoma treatment upon intranasal administration in polymeric nanoparticles. Journal of Controlled Release309:37-47, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 18] [IF: 7,7]
DOI: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.07.033 SCOPUS: 85069705484. .

Bauleth-Ramos T., Shih T.Y., Shahbazi M.A., Najibi A.J., Mao A.S., Liu D., Granja P., Santos H.A., Sarmento B., Mooney D.J.,
Acetalated Dextran Nanoparticles Loaded into an Injectable Alginate Cryogel for Combined Chemotherapy and Cancer Vaccination. Advanced Functional Materials29(35):, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 10] [IF: 16,8]
DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201903686 SCOPUS: 85068179169. .

Costa A., de Souza Carvalho-Wodarz C., Seabra V., Sarmento B., Lehr C.M.,
Triple co-culture of human alveolar epithelium, endothelium and macrophages for studying the interaction of nanocarriers with the air-blood barrier. Acta Biomaterialia91:235-247, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 10] [IF: 7,2]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2019.04.037 SCOPUS: 85064521323. .

Melo M., Nunes R., Sarmento B., Das Neves J.,
Colorectal distribution and retention of polymeric nanoparticles following incorporation into a thermosensitive enema. Biomaterials Science7(9):3801-3811, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 6,2]
DOI: 10.1039/c9bm00759h SCOPUS: 85071385635. .

Martins C., Araújo F., Gomes M.J., Fernandes C., Nunes R., Li W., Santos H.A., Borges F., Sarmento B.,
Using microfluidic platforms to develop CNS-targeted polymeric nanoparticles for HIV therapy. European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics138:111-124, 2019. [Journal: Article] [CI: 28] [IF: 4,6]
DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpb.2018.01.014 SCOPUS: 85041597622. .

Kennedy P.J., Sousa F., Ferreira D., Pereira C., Nestor M., Oliveira C., Granja P.L., Sarmento B.,
Fab-conjugated PLGA nanoparticles effectively target cancer cells expressing human CD44v6. Acta Biomaterialia81:208-218, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 18] [IF: 6,6]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2018.09.043 SCOPUS: 85054155176. .

Nunes R., Araújo F., Barreiros L., Bártolo I., Segundo M.A., Taveira N., Sarmento B., Das Neves J.,
Noncovalent PEG Coating of Nanoparticle Drug Carriers Improves the Local Pharmacokinetics of Rectal Anti-HIV Microbicides. ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces10(41):34942-34953, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 16] [IF: 8,5]
DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b12214 SCOPUS: 85054761997. .