• Smartbio1 10106
  • Smartbio1 10104
  • Smartbio1 10105
  • Smartbio1 10107
  • Smartbio1 10103

The Smart Bio-Interfaces group focuses on the development and exploitation of physically-active nanoparticles and nanostructured materials, able to provide appropriate instructive cues to cells and tissues.

The remote control of cellular functions through smart nanomaterials represents a bio-manipulation approach with unprecedented potential applications in many fields of medicine, ranging from cancer therapy to tissue engineering. By actively responding to external stimuli, smart nanomaterials act as real nanotransducers able to mediate and/or convert different forms of energy into both physical and chemical cues, fostering specific cell behaviors. A new paradigm is proposed for nanomedicine, in order to exploit the intrinsic properties of nanomaterials as active devices rather than as passive structural units or carriers for medications.


In this view, we are focused on three main research topics:

  • Cellular stimulation through piezoelectric, magnetic, redox-active and optically-active nanoparticles
  • Multi-functional drug delivery systems
  • Altered gravity as a physical cue for cell stimulation

Recent Activities

  • Special Issue “Nanophotosensitizers for Cancer Therapy”, JPhys Materials
    Guest Editors: Gianni Ciofani, Andrea Degl’Innocenti, Chiara Martinelli, Carlotta Pucci


We are based at the IIT@SSSA Center, thus taking fully advantage of its chemical, biological and microfabrication facilities, including clean rooms (class 1000 and class 10000), chemical laboratories, and BSL2 biological laboratories.

More specifically, the following equipment is fully available for the Smart Bio-Interfaces research line:

  • Helios NanoLab 600i FIB/SEM/STEM equipped with X-ray microanalysis (FEI)
  • AFM diINNOVA SPM system (Bruker)
  • Fourier transform infrared spectrophotometer IRAffinity-1 (Shimadzu)
  • HPLC 1260 Infinity (Agilent Technologies)
  • Differential scanning calorimeter DSC-1 STARe System (Mettler Toledo)
  • Zetasizer Nano ZS90 (Malvern)
  • LAMBDA 45 spectrophotometer (Perkin Elmer)
  • Cary Eclipse fluorescence spectrophotometer (Agilent Technologies)
  • VICTOR X3 plate reader (Perkin Elmer)
  • Eclipse Ti-E fluorescence microscope (Nikon)
  • C2s confocal microscope (Nikon)
  • Raman confocal miscroscope LabRAM (Horiba)
  • CytoFLEX Flow Cytofluorimeter (Beckman Coulter)
  • QIAcube (Qiagen)
  • Nanodrop 2000 spectrophotometer (Thermo)
  • CFX Connect real-time PCR detection system (BioRad)
  • PowerPac Basic + Mini-PROTEAN Tetra Cell (electrophoresis system, BioRad)
  • iBlot gel transfer system (Invitrogen)
  • ChemiDoc Western blot Imager (Bio-Rad)
  • Magnetherm (Nanoterics)
  • EmulsiFlex-C5 (Avestin)
  • Sonoporation Gene Transfection System SonoPore KTAC-4000 (Sonidel)


  • Magnetic solid lipid nanoparticles as a multifunctional platform against glioblastoma multiforme (SLaMM), grant number 709613, European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant, 2017-2022
  • Development of novel approaches using trimagnetic nanoparticles for intracellular hyperthermia of prostate cancer cells, grant number 800924, Marie Skłodowska-Curie / AIRC Fellowship, 2020-2023
  • Elucidating modes of interaction of redox-active nanomaterials with biological systems exposed to microgravity (InterGravity), grant number 4000129652/20/NL/MH/ac, European Space Agency, 2020-2022
  • A deep characterization of a nanotechnological antioxidant for space using simple invertebrates (NanoOxSpace), grant number 4000130094/20/NL/MH/ac, European Space Agency, 2020-2022
  • Advanced in vitro physiological models: Towards real-scale, biomimetic and biohybrid barriers-on-a-chip (BBBhybrid), grant number 832045, European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept Grant, 2019-2020
  • Insight into new therapeutic preclinical strategies in Autosomal Recessive Spastic Ataxia of Charlevoix-Saguenay type, grant number RF-2016-02361610, Italian Ministry of Health, 2018-2021
  • Nanotechnological countermeasures against oxidative stress in muscle cells exposed to microgravity (NOEMI), project number ILSRA-2014-0012 (implementation phase), European Space Agency & grant number 2018-0156, Fondazione CaRiPLo, 2018-2020
  • A biomimetic and neuroprotective delivery nanocapsule for the targeted treatment of post-ischemic stroke effects (BIONICS), grant number 793644, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, 2018-2020
  • Cerium oxide nanoparticles as countermeasure against reactive oxygen species production in altered gravity conditions: Preliminary investigation on planarians (PlanOx2), grant number CORA-GBF-2017-001, European Space Agency, 2017-2019
  • Nanotechnology solutions against oxidative stress in muscle tissue during long-term microgravity exposure (NANOROS), grant number 2016-7-U.0, Italian Space Agency, 2016-2019
  • Starting grant "Compagnia di San Paolo", grant number 55_AI16GC01, Compagnia di San Paolo, 2016-2018
  • New self-powered devices for cochlear stimulation based on piezoelectric nanomaterials, grant number RF-2011-02350464, Italian Ministry of Health, 2014-2018


  • Prof. Suzuki Madoka, Osaka University (Osaka, Japan)
  • Prof. Lorenzo Albertazzi, IBEC (Barcelona, Spain) & Eindhoven University of Technology (Eindhoven, The Netherlands)
  • Prof. Elisa Mele, Loughborough University (Loughborough, UK)
  • Prof. Leonie Young, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)
  • Prof. Gozde Ince, Sabanci University (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Prof. Filippo Maria Santorelli, IRCCS Fondazione Stella Maris (Pisa, Italy)
  • Prof. Alessandra Salvetti, University of Pisa (Pisa, Italy)
  • Prof. Valentina Cauda, Polytechnic University of Torino (Torino, Italy)
  • Prof. Roberto Raiteri, University of Genova (Genova, Italy)
  • Dr. Alessandro Mariani, Kayser Italia (Livorno, Italy)
  • Dr. Andrea Petretto, Gaslini Hospital (Genova, Italy)
  • Dr. Pietro Fiaschi, San Martino Hospital (Genova, Italy)