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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

The intracellular administration of drugs controlled by biomimetic nano-injectors

Lead Researcher:
Miguel Ángel Correa Duarte

Research Centre:
Universidad de Vigo.


Miguel Ángel Correa DuarteThis project is based on the use of nanomaterials for the design of mechanisms offering new strategies in intracellular drug delivery. The aim is therefore to design a nanometric device which can be used to make injections in cells in a controlled way. To this end, a nanocapsule will be made with a functional external wall to achieve greater biocompatibility. In this way, the external wall of the nanoinjector will function as a shield against the different protective mechanisms of the organism, thereby providing a higher probability of success in the use of this system. The inside of the nanocapsule will hold a heat-sensitive microgel into which the substance to be injected has previously been inserted. In this case, the heat-sensitivity of the structure of the microgel will be used to drive the injection outwards. This behaviour will be induced by controlled variation in the temperature or the use of infrared lasers in the case of microgels coated in layers of metallic nanoparticles able to absorb this radiation. Likewise, transfer from the inner chamber of the nanoinjector to the cells will be channelled using the insertion of carbon nanotubes into the wall of the capsule. The suitable functionalisation of these nanostructures may provide more efficient fixing to the cellular membrane, thereby facilitating the injection of the substance contained in the nanodevice.

To date a spherical nanostructure has been made and carbon nanotubes have been added to it. These nanotubes are in the form of arms that will be used to pass through the cellular barrier and inject the drug. The first approach used is to functionalise the nanotubes, with the aim of studying the alternative of being able to use their external surface to hold the drug for subsequent release. If this approach is successful, it will greatly aid the manufacturing process and therefore the objective of the project.

Researcher's web address:


Miguel Ángel Correa Duarte

Tenured Professor at the Department of Physical Chemistry in the University of Vigo (UVI), he graduated in Chemistry from the University of Santiago de Compostela in 1997 and received his PhD from the UVI in 2002. He started work as an associate researcher in the European Centre for Advanced Studies and Research in Bonn, Germany, and later joined Arizona State University, Phoenix, USA as an invited professor. Since 2005 he has been with the UVI as a researcher under an Isidro Parga Pondal contract.

M.A. Correa Duarte has long experience in the synthesis and functionalisation of nanoparticles, hybrid core-shell nanostructures, hybrid nanocompounds based on inorganic or organic carbon nanotubes, as well as with nanoreactors and multifunctional nanomaterials for the development of applications in fields such as bio-detection or catalysis. He is the co-author of more than 60 publications, 8 book chapters and one patent. The total number of citations of his works is greater than 2500, and his h index is 25. He has been involved in more than 22 national and international projects, of which he was the leader in 6.

In 2007, the Regional Government of Galicia awarded him the prestigious Antonio Casares y Rodrigo research prize in the category of young researchers.

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