Dr. Helena Iuele

CNR NANOTEC Institute of Nanotechnology, Italy

Title: Multifunctional Stimuli-responsive Systems for Sensing and Therapy



Material science and materials customization helped overcoming many biological issues. Sensing materials are particularly relevant for the in-situ monitoring of 3D cellular microenvironment alterations occurring both during physiological processes, such as tissue regeneration, and pathological processes, such as cancer evolution while therapy materials allow to treat targeted cells with one or more contextual therapies controlling and modulating their duration in space and time.

Herein, the synthesis and functionalization of materials with advanced properties will be described with a special focus on the properties they could offer for the aforementioned biomedical applications.

Optical ratiometric micro-sensors designed to track spatio-temporal pH changes of the local cellular microenvironment are presented as example of sensing materials, in particular: (i) Polymeric microneedles based enzymatic electrodes for electrochemical biosensing of glucose and lactic acid (ii) Skin micropatches biosensors fabricated through photolitographic processes for sensing analytes in the sweat (iii) Capsules-based biosensors placed in mesenchymal stromal cell 3D scaffolds, and (iv) Highly sensitive silica-based biosensors tested with human colorectal carcinoma cells.

Electrospun composite nanofibers are presented as example of therapy and drug delivery platforms, in particular: (ii) gum arabic ECM-like nanofibers as platforms for in vitro cell growth and anticancer nanomedicine delivery, and (ii) magnetic nanofibers as manipulative hyperthermia material and switchable drug release platforms.

The research leading to these results received partial funding from the European Research Council(ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 759959, ERC-StG “INTERCELLMED”).


Helena Iuele is a post-doctoral fellow at the Nanotechnology Institute of Cnr (IT) within the ERC project INTERCELLMED. Her research is focused on the synthesis of optical sensors for the pH, O2 and K+ mapping in 3D in vitro tumor models. Previously, she was a post-doctoral fellow at Universidad Nacional de Colombia (CO) where she prepared new fullerene derivatives for applications in solar cells. In 2019, she completed her PhD in Chemistry at University of Waikato (NZ) where she monitored environmentally and ecotoxicologically carcinogenic endocrine disrupting chemicals. In 2015, she became a material specialist at IMaST Scarl (IT) and patented sensors for monitoring glucose, lactic acid and nicotine.

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