Where Ideas grow



Biocomposites Group exists since 2006. It includes 4 PhD’s, 5 PhD students, and other students. The group has been mostly active in the areas of ceramic based composite scaffolds for bone tissue engineering and in surface modifications of hard ceramic materials to improve bioactivity while reducing bacterial adhesion. The group studies surface modification on ceramics aiming at guided tissue regeneration for dental or other applications, but the major activities include the development of composite scaffolds, including a nanophased bioceramic and a natural polymer. The main objective when developing our materials is tissue regeneration, using in vitro characterization of different cell types in contact with the materials surfaces (osteoblasts, fibroblasts, osteoclasts, msc’s, endothelial cells, cancer cells), and proteins adsorption. But we are also very much concerned with bacterial adhesion, biofilm formation and quorum sensing bacterial strategies. We study SPARC, a protein that has influence in the initial steps of bone remodelling and whose influence in bone metastasis of prostate cancer needs to be followed, so we have been following it or its peptides adsorbed on our collagen/Nanohydroxyapatite scaffolds in the presence of several cell environments.We use several in vivo models adjusted to each particular study. Recently we started developing Quantum Dots-bioconjugated nanoparticles and natural polymer molecules/ magnetically active nanometric bioceramics conjugates for Bioimaging associated to cancer cells detection. We keep close collaborations with groups in Portugal, both academic and industrial, and also with groups from Spain, France, Brazil, Colombia, USA, Holland, constantly seeking collaborations with other research groups and with industry, aiming at pass to the market the results of our research.



Among our most relevant results is a novel method to produce nanophased hydroxyapatite (HA) and other calcium phosphates, that was used to establish a production line for hydroxyapatite that is now in the market, with increasing success. We were able to produce nanohydroxyapatite/collagen scaffolds with interesting results in vitro and successful preliminary in vivo results, as a localised drug releasing system. We tailored mechanical properties, bioactivity and cell adhesion capacity to adjust to different requirements for osteoconductivity and bone tissue regeneration. A patent application is pending. We obtained microtextured films on zirconia that may generate oriented cell growth with potential applications in dental implants, now under in vivo testing.
We recently developed a method to produce 3D collagen/ nanoHA nanostructures based on novel electrospinning and electrospraying techniques (patent application pending) potential applications in bone and skin regeneration. We have successfully functionalised collagen/nanoHA 3D constructs using peptides involved in early phases of bone tissue formation. We have associated ZnO to nanoHA reducing bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation. We developed silk fibroin based composites for bone and skin regeneration.

NanoHA/ TypeI collagen interconnective macro/microporous composite scaffold for drug releasing (antibiotic to treat osteomyelitis), for bone regeneration and osteoconductivity.