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Marta Alcaina and Albert Rosado: Oral Talk/Poster Awards at the UAB XII Doctoral Workshop in Chemistry 2023

Marta Alcaina and Albert Rosado, PhD researchers at ICMAB, have won two of the three awards given at the UAB XII Doctoral Workshop in Chemistry.

14 June 2023
Marta Alcaina and Albert Rosado | UAB
Marta Alcaina and Albert Rosado | UAB

On 29 and 30 May, and 2 June 2023, the XII Doctoral Workshop of the UAB PhD Programme in Chemistry took place, with a very intersting programme.

Two of the three awards given to the PhD researchers who presented their research in an oral presentation and a poster discussion, carry out their PhD Thesis at ICMAB:

Marta Alcaina

Marta Alcaina-Hernando is doing an Industrial PhD between the Nanomol-Bio group with Nora Ventosa, and Nanomol Technologies S.L. with Alba Córdoba. Her talk was about:

  • New plant-based nanovesicles based on alkyl polyglucosides surfactants and β-sitosterol as topical drug delivery systems

Most of the delivery systems (DSs) used in healthcare are not suitable for vegan consumers or patients, so there is the need of new DSs. We present here for the first time a new platform of nanovesicles (NVs) formed by self-assembly of β-Sitosterol (Sit) and alkyl polyglucosides, biodegradable and biocompatible components from vegetal origin, that can integrate a large variety of hydrophobic and hydrophilic payloads and deliver them topically. 

These new NVs were formulated combining Sit and alkyl polyglucosides using DELOS technology, a sustainable production method based on compressed fluids. Their physicochemical properties were studied: size, PdI, surface charge (DLS-ELS), morphology (CryoTEM and SAXS), and stability. For the first time, small unilamellar NVs were produced using Sit and Lauryl Glucoside (LGL) (1:1) as membrane components (size 217±11 nm, PdI 0.22±0.01). Addition of negatively charged surfactants, such as Lauryl Glucose Carboxilate (LGC), enabled to tune the surface charge of the NVs from -40 mV to -70 mV. NVs composed by Sit:LGL:LGC (1:0.8:0.2) (size 182±9 nm, PdI 0.22±0.01) were used to test their loading capacity with α-Tocopherol (TCP). They were successfully produced presenting similar physicochemical properties (size 131±4 nm, PdI 0.19±0.01) and maintaining the antioxidant capacity of TCP after encapsulation. Furthermore, In vitro assays with reconstructed human epidermis showed that the novel delivery platform is compatible with the skin and non-irritant. Finally, skin penetration in porcine ear explants was determined with multiphoton microscopy showing that the NVs can penetrate down to epidermis. 

To summarize, a new drug delivery platform has been developed, using plant-derived ingredients that self-assemble in stable small unilamellar NVs. This novel delivery platform is completely biocompatible with the skin and can help to the retention of loaded actives in the epidermis, important characteristics for topical delivery applications in pharma and cosmetics. Thus, it will cover an unmet need for vegan patients and consumers.

Albert Rosado

Albert Rosado is doing his PhD with Ana M. López Periago and Concha Domingo, in the Solid State Chemistry group. His talk was about: 

  • Green synthesis and processing of CaSyr-1 bioMOF: a potential drug delivery system with intriguing triple bioactivity

Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are a unique class of porous crystalline materials with exceptional versatile chemistry that have shown promising applicability in several and diverse fields. One of the deeply investigated areas is biomedicine, where they have been mostly conceived as platforms for drug loading and delivery. For this bio-related application it is meaningful to construct the MOF as a nanoparticulate biological MOF (bioMOF), i.e., constituted of endogenous cations and naturally occurring ligands, in order to reduce the global cytotoxicity. However, the overall processing of drug nanocarrier MOFs, including the synthesis of the framework, the encapsulation of the active ingredients and the required post-synthetic modifications, generally involves harsh reaction conditions, long reaction/activation periods and large amounts of hazardous solvents that hinder not only their biomedical application, but also their scale-up production. 

Currently, the development of green technologies to produce and process MOFs is under survey. Recently in our group, we have synthesized a new bioMOF called CaSyr-1 that meets numerous properties, i.e., high surface area with large micropores, nano-particulate size and biocompatibility, commonly sought in systems designed for drug loading and delivery. Remarkably, CaSyr-1 constituents, i.e., calcium and syringic acid, possess certain bioactivity that could complement the medical action of the contained drug, hence, affording a triply bioactive system (Figure 1). In this work, two model drugs, i.e., ibuprofen and isoniazid, have been separately encapsulated within CaSyr-1 voids. In both cases, the global effect of the drug could merge positively with the biomedical activity of both calcium and syringic acid. The entire processing of CaSyr-1(drug), considering the bioMOF synthesis, the drug impregnation and the post-synthetic modifications, relies on the combination of scCO2 and EtOH as operation solvents, thus involving a fully eco-friendly procedure. In conclusion, CaSyr-1 bioMOF has emerged as an ideal platform for drug loading and delivery. In this work, the development of CaSyr-1(drug) is accomplished by following a completely green approach.

About the XII Doctoral Workshop in Chemistry

To know more about this past edition of this workshop, please take a look at the news post "XII Doctoral Workshop of the UAB PhD Programme in Chemistry", where you'll find the programme, book of abstracts, invited speakers and more!

During the meeting, Prof. Ben L. Feringa, Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2016, was invited to give a lecture on "The Art of Building Small from molecular switches to motors" on Friday, 2 June at 12 PM. He was invited by Daniel Maspoch, ICN2 resercher. 

The conference room at the UAB Faculty of Science was completely full, and many ICMABers attended the talk, including Rosario Núñez, who is part of the Organizing Committee of the workshop. 

feringa uab

Prof. Ben Feringa with the Organizing Committee of the workshop, including Rosario Núñez, ICMAB researcher. 
Ben L. Feringa obtained his PhD degree at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands under the guidance of Professor Hans Wynberg. After working as a research scientist at Shell in the Netherlands and the UK, he was appointed lecturer and in 1988 full professor at the University of Groningen and named the Jacobus H. van't Hoff Distinguished Professor of Molecular Sciences in 2004. In 2008 he was appointed Academy Professor and was knighted by Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands.

Feringa’s research has been recognized with a number of awards including the Koerber European Science Award (2003), the Spinoza Award (2004), the Norrish Award of the ACS (2007), the Paracelsus medal (2008), the Nagoya gold medal (2013), ACS Cope Scholar Award 2015, Chemistry for the Future Solvay Prize (2015), The 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Euchems gold medal. Feringa’s research interest includes stereochemistry, organic synthesis, asymmetric catalysis, molecular switches and motors, self-assembly, molecular nanosystems and photopharmacology. 

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