We are a group with a core expertise in materials chemistry, specifically in polymer synthesis and colloidal characterization, and we predominantly focus on applications in the field of drug delivery/nanomedicine and in that of regenerative medicine. In short, therefore, we develop polymers and we apply them as biomaterials.
What’s special in our work? That the detailed knowledge of biological problems comes before the design of materials, or at least that the materials are developed through iterative processes that also increase our understanding of the cell world.
What are we really passionate about? Biological systems can sense, respond to and exchange extremely low intensity signals, and do so in a highly selective and scale-bridging fashion, see e.g. allergic responses, blood clotting or complement activation. Synthetic structures are unable to trigger similar responses due to the lack of appropriate sensing, amplification and control. This is indeed the major challenge we try to tackle, typically by synthesizing polymers that couple specific physico-chemical responses with efficient amplification mechanisms. For example, in the past we have pioneered the concept of reactive oxygen species-responsive materials and used self-assembly (in micelles, vesicles) to amplify molecular responses. In other projects we focus on understanding the details of ligand-receptor interactions at the surface of nanoparticles, and the feedback mechanisms that control first their binding on cell surfaces and then their internalization.