Development of sensors and medical devices based on nanoparticles

Objectives: This line includes the following specific objectives.

New instruments for hyperthermia induction in living tissues (optical, magnetic and radiofrequency related types).Hyperthermia as a mean to facilitate therapies for cancer and other diseases has a long History. The use of nanoparticles to fix the heat or mechanical energy source to the targeted cells or tissues is showing many side effects, mostly related to the need of huge amounts of provided energy or nanoparticles that, afterwards, are, as well, a source of toxicity and general concern for the medical practitioners. We are developing several different instruments for which the core idea is to change some aspects of actual conventional techniques to dramatically reduce the needed resources to provide the targeted hyperthermia. We are working on two different ways of applying optical hyperthermia, which uses gold nanoparticles as heat vectors, and on three different magnetic/radiofrequency designs, which use magnetic nanoparticles and microparticles to heat the samples.


Equipment for prototyping optical hyperthermia systems.

Results of cell death induction by hyperthermic therapy based on gold nanorods. The procedure is based on the irradiation of gold nanorods with a continuous wave laser. This kind of nanoparticles converts the absorbed light into localized heat in a short period of time due to the surface plasmon resonance effect. The effectiveness of the method has been determined by measuring changes in cell viability after laser irradiation of glioblastoma cells in the presence of gold nanorods. The use of gold nanorods in hyperthermal therapies is very effective in eliminating glioblastoma cells and therefore, it represents an important area of research for therapeutic development.

Detection and identification of magnetic nanoparticles in biological tissues and the environment (intentional or contaminants). The magnetic nanoparticles either intentionally as it could be the case with nanodevices used in new medical technologies, or non-intentionally as with undesired contaminants, can enter the body following a still unclear life cycle. They can be eliminated or remain somewhere in the body after having changed their initial chemical-physical state, what is the origin of a great concern. We are developing a new tool and procedure to study the presence of magnetic nanoparticles in biological tissues and fluids samples to understand the way these nanodevices behave in the long term. Alternating Gradient Force Magnetometer and Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Relaxometer are used for this purpose. Another application is the quantification of known magnetic nanoparticles concentration in human tissues.We are developing a software and procedure to obtain and to process data to calibrate the behavior of the magnetic materials when used as contrast agents or even when they are naturally present in the biological tissues. The technique is based on relaxometer in collaboration with other non-CTB groups.

Biosensors based on nanoparticles for early diagnosis of bacterial diseases and contamination (food, environment). Many approaches have been and are being investigated to develop good devices to detect the presence of bacteria in biological fluids. However, none of them can be said as the definitive one up to now. We follow an approach trying to get advantage of natural (physical, chemical and biological) processes to concentrate and identify specific bacteria (bacteriophage viruses) to develop very cheap screening procedures.

Development of bioinstrumentation systems and procedures to guide magnetic nanoparticles inside the body (ophthalmologic applications). The magnetic particles movements are hardly controllable once they are inside the body. However, it would be very useful to have means to prevent them from going to undesired places (e.g. sometimes the vascular systems) or, on the contrary, to force them to move where we need. We are working on procedures to overcome these challenges, in very well defined scenarios. Ophthalmology applications have been the most interesting up to now. We are developing medical devices and new nanoparticles, to avoid some side effects during surgery. A new patent has been made of a new medical device and procedure using microparticles of our invention, in collaboration with other groups, made of magnets and ferrofluids, for retina detachment surgery, already tested in rabbits.

Design of medical devices: Sensors and instruments to measure physiologic variables (glycaemia, vascular pressures, audiometry). Exploring new solutions for old problems by considering new technologies form a variety of fields: MEMS, high throughput digital converters, high frequency electronics and piezoelectric materials, etc., namely: 1) a new fully non-invasive monitor of endodermis glycaemia, 2) an arterial pressure monitor portable compatible with the practice of sport, 3) objective audiometer which does not need the active collaboration of the patient, useful for babies or unconscious people.


  • Bioinstrumentation and Nanomedicine
  • Advanced Applied Mathematics to Biological Systems
  • Molecular Biology and Biochemistry: Biofunctionalization
  • Internet of Things and Social Networks


Contact: José Javier Serrano Olmedo

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