Where Ideas grow

Microenvironments for New Therapies

Pivotal in the strategy of the group is the concept that bioengineered matrices are major therapeutic and diagnostic agents and platforms for biological studies. The group has bioengineered matrix-inspired biomaterials, including nanobiomaterials, that promote tissue repair/regeneration and influence cell behaviour by modulating inflammation. This rational has been consistently adopted by us, namely for bone, the intervertebral disc and cancer, in close collaboration with other i3S groups and clinicians.
This translational oriented research is founded on more fundamental and well-established contributions of the group to the understanding and modulation of cell-biomaterial interactions, namely on how biomaterials chemistry, structure and biomechanics can be designed to guide cell behaviour, including inflammatory cells.
The group is aligned with the strategic objectives of Host Interaction and Response (HIR) and Cancer Programs. At the i3S our contributions fall primarily in the field of bioengineering, in which the concept of immunomodulatory microenvironments has been extensively explored. In this respect, the group has established a bridge between inflammation and bioengineering.

The group integrates three teams:

Matrix bioengineering (MA Barbosa, CC Ribeiro, JN Barbosa, SG Santos and C Cunha) - the team is dedicated to bioengineering matrix-inspired biomaterials that modulate the inflammatory response, including hierarchically designed matrices and nanocomplexes for tissue regeneration and cancer. The team also explores the crosstalk between immune cells and other tissue cells in the context of cell/biomaterial interactions. Major applications include bone, intervertebral disc and articular cartilage.

Stem cell bioengineering (RM Gonçalves, J Caldeira) – The team is dedicated to bioengineering mesenchymal stem/stromal cells- and nanoparticles-based therapies, focusing on intervertebral disc. The team explores the recapitulation of initial developmental stages to promote disc regeneration, while developing physiological ex vivo models of tissue degeneration.

RNA-based bioengineering (MI Almeida, J Freitas) – The team is dedicated to Non-Coding RNA (ncRNA) therapeutics for regenerative medicine and cancer, with a focus on the osteoarticular system. It uses ncRNA-based molecular bioengineering tools for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies aiming to modulate cellular immunomodulatory properties, proliferation and differentiation capacities, intra- and intercellular signalling, and the extracellular matrix remodelling.

Morphology of macrophages differentiated on surfaces can be observed by staining for F-actin filaments (red) and nuclei (green).

Team Coordinators


Selected Publications

Molinos M., Cunha C., Almeida C.R., Gonçalves R.M., Pereira P., Silva P.S., Vaz R., Barbosa M.A.,
Age-Correlated Phenotypic Alterations in Cells Isolated from Human Degenerated Intervertebral Discs with Contained Hernias. Spine43(5):E274-E284, 2018. [Journal: Article] [CI: 8] [IF: 2,9]
DOI: 10.1097/BRS.0000000000002311 SCOPUS: 85021845784. .

Caldeira J., Santa C., Osório H., Molinos M., Manadas B., Goncalves R., Barbosa M.,
Matrisome Profiling during Intervertebral Disc Development and Ageing. Scientific Reports7(1):, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 10] [IF: 4,1]
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-11960-0 SCOPUS: 85029508543. .

Pinto M.L., Rios E., Silva A.C., Neves S.C., Caires H.R., Pinto A.T., Durães C., Carvalho F.A., Cardoso A.P., Santos N.C., Barrias C.C., Nascimento D.S., Pinto-do-Ó P., Barbosa M.A., Carneiro F., Oliveira M.J.,
Decellularized human colorectal cancer matrices polarize macrophages towards an anti-inflammatory phenotype promoting cancer cell invasion via CCL18. Biomaterials124:211-224, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 50] [IF: 8,8]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2017.02.004 SCOPUS: 85013069713. .

Neves N., Linhares D., Costa G., Ribeiro C.C., Barbosa M.A.,
In vivo and clinical application of strontium-enriched biomaterials for bone regeneration. Bone and Joint Research6(6):366-375, 2017. [Journal: Review] [CI: 33] [IF: 2,4]
DOI: 10.1302/2046-3758.66.BJR-2016-0311.R1 SCOPUS: 85021702111. .

Vasconcelos D.M., Gonçalves R.M., Almeida C.R., Pereira I.O., Oliveira M.I., Neves N., Silva A.M., Ribeiro A.C., Cunha C., Almeida A.R., Ribeiro C.C., Gil A.M., Seebach E., Kynast K.L., Richter W., Lamghari M., Santos S.G., Barbosa M.A.,
Fibrinogen scaffolds with immunomodulatory properties promote inαvivo bone regeneration. Biomaterials111:163-178, 2016. [Journal: Article] [CI: 32] [IF: 8,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2016.10.004 SCOPUS: 84991771953. .

Almeida M.I., Silva A.M., Vasconcelos D.M., Almeida C.R., Caires H., Pinto M.T., Calin G.A., Santos S.G., Barbosa M.A.,
miR-195 in human primary mesenchymal stromal/stem cells regulates proliferation, osteogenesis and paracrine effect on angiogenesis. Oncotarget7(1):7-22, 2016. [Journal: Article] [CI: 44] [IF: 5,2]
DOI: 10.18632/ONCOTARGET.6589 SCOPUS: 84969765513. .

Teixeira G.Q., Leite Pereira C., Castro F., Ferreira J.R., Gomez-Lazaro M., Aguiar P., Barbosa M.A., Neidlinger-Wilke C., Goncalves R.M.,
Anti-inflammatory Chitosan/Poly-γ-glutamic acid nanoparticles control inflammation while remodeling extracellular matrix in degenerated intervertebral disc. Acta Biomaterialia42:168-179, 2016. [Journal: Article] [CI: 35] [IF: 6,3]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2016.06.013 SCOPUS: 84983262266. .

Vasconcelos D.P., Costa M., Amaral I.F., Barbosa M.A., Águas A.P., Barbosa J.N.,
Modulation of the inflammatory response to chitosan through M2 macrophage polarization using pro-resolution mediators. Biomaterials37:116-123, 2015. [Journal: Article] [CI: 77] [IF: 8,4]
DOI: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.10.035 SCOPUS: 84922253992. .

Almeida C.R., Serra T., Oliveira M.I., Planell J.A., Barbosa M.A., Navarro M.,
Impact of 3-D printed PLA- and chitosan-based scaffolds on human monocyte/macrophage responses: Unraveling the effect of 3-D structures on inflammation. Acta Biomaterialia10(2):613-622, 2014. [Journal: Article] [CI: 147] [IF: 6]
DOI: 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.10.035 SCOPUS: 84896505907. .

Maciel J., Oliveira M.I., Colton E., McNally A.K., Oliveira C., Anderson J.M., Barbosa M.A.,
Adsorbed fibrinogen enhances production of bone- and angiogenic-related factors by monocytes/macrophages. Tissue Engineering - Part A20(1-2):250-263, 2014. [Journal: Article] [CI: 25] [IF: 4,7 (*)]
DOI: 10.1089/ten.tea.2012.0439 SCOPUS: 84891526984. .