Rosaria Rinaldi and Rodolfo Guzzi

Nano-biophysical and diagnostics tools for cellular processes investigations.

In the last decade, one of the most critical matters related to the cellular biological applications was to detect the processes followed by the cells in their native and dynamic settings. Cell-cell contacts are significant determinants of tissue organization during embryogenesis and epithelial tissue development.  Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have been providing interesting technologies for the development of functional substitutes aimed to repair and regenerate damaged tissues and organs. In this frame, nanostructured biomaterials are gaining particular attention for tissue engineering, owing to their ability to better promote cell adhesion and proliferation compared with conventional micro-sized materials. Moreover, rapid micro and nano-technological and methodological developments have advanced our capabilities to study and understand crucial aspects of cell organization, tissue formation, and organ structure and function.  In this context advanced nano-imaging and nano-manipulation tools and miniaturized diagnostics devices to engineer and test new materials and biochemical or biophysical stimuli to adequately address cell activity and function. These processes become more critical and complex when the target is the addressing of organ development, which is related to the intricate process of coordinated differentiation, morphogenesis, and maturation of diverse populations of cells into complex tissues. Gaining the ability to engineer complex tissues and whole organs have tremendous implications for advancing our understanding of developmental processes and empowering translational and precision medicine.

To this aim, we have been developing different approaches which combine nano-scale imaging and spectroscopic techniques as long as lab-on-chip systems [1-9] to investigate all the fundamental processes and biophysical/biochemical parameters influencing the mechanisms as mentioned above.

Organ-on-chip models can create 2D models in which cell function can be monitored over time in response to precisely controlled physicochemical cues. Organoid models enable our understanding of morphogenesis and developmental disorders. Recent advances in creating 3D organ-on-chip models are expected to be of fundamental importance to boost the advancement and translational applications in this field. Pertinent mathematical models have also been developed to understand more of morphogenesis and better monitor related processes.


  1. Primiceri, E., et al., Automatic transwell assay by an EIS cell chip to monitor cell migration. Lab on a Chip, 2011. 11(23): p. 4081-4086.
  2. Aloisi, A., et al., Micrograph Device for Biosensoristic Applications. Journal of Sensors, 2016.
  3. Aloisi, A., et al., Microfluidics and BIO-encapsulation for drug- and cell-therapy, in Organic Sensors and Bioelectronics X, I. Kymissis, R. Shinar, and L. Torsi, Editors. 2017.
  4. Cascione, M., et al., Atomic Force Microscopy Combined with Optical Microscopy for Cells Investigation. Microscopy Research and Technique, 2017. 80(1): p. 109-123.
  5. Cascione, M., et al., Morphomechanical and structural changes induced by ROCK inhibitor in breast cancer cells. Experimental Cell Research, 2017. 360(2): p. 303-309.
  6. del Mercato, L.L., et al., Design and characterization of microcapsules-integrated collagen matrixes as multifunctional three-dimensional scaffolds for soft tissue engineering. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials, 2016. 62: p. 209-221.
  7. Primiceri, E., et al., Cell chips as new tools for cell biology – results, perspectives and opportunities. Lab on a Chip, 2013. 13(19): p. 3789-3802.
  8. Sallustio, F., et al., Inhibin-A and Decorin Secreted by Human Adult Renal Stem/Progenitor Cells Through the TLR2 Engagement Induce Renal Tubular Cell Regeneration. Scientific Reports, 2017. 7.
  9. Vergara, D., et al., Cytoskeletal Alterations and Biomechanical Properties of parkin-Mutant Human Primary Fibroblasts. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 2015. 71(3): p. 1395-1404.

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