16 Déc 2022


11h00 - 12h00

Dorleta Jiménez de Aberasturi – Hybrid biofunctional materials for 3D cell model fabrication

CIC biomaGUNE, Basque Research and Technology Alliance (BRTA), Donostia-San Sebastián, Spain.


3D-printed cell models are currently in the spotlight of medical research.[1] They are essential tools to obtain relevant information in a preclinical context. 3D models recapitulate more realistically cell to cell interactions and intercommunication thanks to the incorporation of extracellular matrices (ECM) which provide the cells with an in vivo like microenvironment. Thus, the proper design of such matrices is essential. Even if significant advances have been made in the production of such 3D models, the incorporation of the different physical forces and stress factors that cells experience in healthy and pathophysiological conditions are still needed. In this line, hybrid biofunctional materials play a vital role to achieve such purposes, for example mixtures of decellularized ECMs with synthetic polymers can be used to recreate different ECMs with different mechanical properties. Moreover, hybrid inorganic-organic biomaterials can be combined, in which inorganic nanoparticles (NPs) and organic polymers are the main elements, to produce stimuli-responsive environments.[2,3] The NPs can provide the physical properties of interest (i.e. optical response, heating, or mechanical strength, etc.), while the organic matrix (polymers, proteins, etc.) can provide the structural support for cell growth, with controlled porosity or responsiveness toward external stimuli.

In this context, we have been focused on the synthesis of hybrid bifunctional inks, composed of plasmonic gold NPs (AuNPs) and functional polymers and bioinks that can be used as ECMs, which can be printed using high resolution 3D printing techniques. These techniques can be used to print those biofunctional materials including human cells, thereby generating different models of pathological interest. We have been focused on the design of 3D-printed hybrid scaffolds containing AuNPs to study breast tumor behavior.[4] This model aims to allow the tumor growth in 3D and the analysis of relevant cancer biomarkers in situ, thanks to the sensing properties of the AuNPs which can be used as Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS) substrates for Raman-active molecules. Additionally, we are exploring the use of such hybrid inks for the fabrication of an in vitro artery, which is composed of 3D printed endothelial and smooth muscle cells embedded in their ECM. By combining those living inks containing cells with a stimuli-responsive hybrid inorganic-organic ink, which can contract and expand in response to externally applied light in resonance with the localized surface plasmons of incorporated AuNPs, we aim to simulate the physical changes in the arterial wall.

These sophisticated models not only require improvements in cell engineering techniques and in the development of new hybrid materials, but also advanced imaging tools to accurately characterize them.[5] As such, we are exploring methods to improve imaging resolution and speed, taking advantage of the inherent NPs of each model to act as contrast agents for correlative imaging techniques.[6]

Overall, during the seminar the different examples of 3D cell models fabricated using hybrid biofunctional materials will be discussed.


[1]        S. V Murphy, A. Atala, Nat. Biotechnol. 2014 328 2014, 32, 773.

[2]        L. Nicole, C. Laberty-Robert, L. Rozes, C. Sanchez, Nanoscale 2014, 6, 6267.

[3]        M. S. Strozyk, D. Jimenez de Aberasturi, L. M. Liz-Marzán, Chem. Rec. 2018, 18, 807.

[4]        C. García‐Astrain, E. Lenzi, D. Jimenez de Aberasturi, M. Henriksen‐Lacey, M. R. Binelli, L. M. Liz‐Marzán, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30, 2005407.

[5]        C. De La Encarnación, et. al, J. Phys. Chem. C 2022, 126, 45, 19519–19531

[6]        D. Jimenez de Aberasturi, M. Henriksen‐Lacey, L. Litti, J. Langer, L. M. Liz‐Marzán, Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30, 1909655.