First cycle
degree courses
Second cycle
degree courses
Single cycle
degree courses
School of Science
Course unit
SCO2044101, A.A. 2017/18

Information concerning the students who enrolled in A.Y. 2016/17

Information on the course unit
Degree course Second cycle degree in
SC1731, Degree course structure A.Y. 2014/15, A.Y. 2017/18
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Number of ECTS credits allocated 8.0
Type of assessment Mark
Course unit English denomination NANOBIOTECHNOLOGY
Website of the academic structure
Department of reference Department of Biology
Mandatory attendance
Language of instruction English

Teacher in charge ALESSANDRO MORETTO CHIM/06
Other lecturers EMANUELE PAPINI MED/04

Course unit code Course unit name Teacher in charge Degree course code

ECTS: details
Type Scientific-Disciplinary Sector Credits allocated
Educational activities in elective or integrative disciplines MED/04 General Pathology 4.0
Core courses CHIM/06 Organic Chemistry 4.0

Mode of delivery (when and how)
Period First semester
Year 2nd Year
Teaching method frontal

Organisation of didactics
Type of hours Credits Hours of
Hours of
Individual study
Laboratory 3.0 48 27.0 No turn
Lecture 5.0 40 85.0 No turn

Start of activities 02/10/2017
End of activities 19/01/2018

Prerequisites: Basic background in chemistry and organic chemistry acquired in the previous fundamental courses. Basic knowledge about formation and properties of nanoparticles. Basic background in anatomy/physiology, cell biology and protein biochemistry.
Previous attendance of the "Nanosystems" course (previous semester) is suggested.
Target skills and knowledge: At the end of the course the student will understand the basic principles of the interaction of nanomaterials with biological organisms and will be able to carry out the basic methodologies necessary for the synthesis, physical-chemical characterization, and evaluation of the in vitro biocompatibility of specific nanosystems.
He/she will be able to predict the possible reactions of an organism to nanomaterials exposure and will know the strategies to increase the biocompatibility of nanoparticles.
The student will also understand the fundamental characteristics of a nanosystem designed for biomedical use, in particular the properties of the main nanomaterials and how they can be exploited, the strategies for functionalization, conjugation, targeting, and release.
Examination methods: The evaluation will be partly based on a written report on the experimental part, which will have to be turned in by the end of the course, and on an exam. The exam is written and consists of four open-answer questions on topics covered both in the practical and in the theoretical part of the course.
The time allotted to the discussion of the topics proposed is 2 hours.
Assessment criteria: The evaluation purpose is to assess the acquisition of the knowledge and skills described above by the student.
The exam will evaluate the scholarity of the presentation, the summarizing ability, the scientific correctness, the acquisition of the contents treated during the course and the ability to process and organize them in an organic short essay.
Course unit contents: I. Introductory lessons that summarize the general features of nanoassembled systems; these lessons are meant to go over the main contents of the course "Nanosystems", for the benefit of those students who followed it; at the same time, they are meant to provide a basis for those student who do not have it. Outline of the essential features of nano-structured systems. The ideal nanostructure: components. Modified "natural" nanostructures (bacterial Outer Membrane Vescicles, viruses). Engineered nanoparticles: inorganic (silica, gold), organic (nanoformulations, polymers), liposomes and lipidic nanoparticles, quantum dots. Derivatization with small organic molecules (conjugation, orthogonal bioconjugation), with proteins or antibodies for specific cell targeting.

II. Lectures on nano-biomedicine and nanotoxicology. Physio-structural features of living organisms that come primarily into play in the interaction with nanomaterials.
Blood circulation, endothelial cells, renal filter. Reticuloendothelial system (RES): tissue-resident macrophages. Professional phagocytes: PMN, monocytes-macrophages, APCs. Accessibility to tissues and systems: physiological and pathological endothelial permeability (in chronic inflammation, and neoplasms); Permeabilisation Retention Effect (lymphatic system); "Shrines": blood-brain barrier: structure and its alteration. Cellular and humoral responses to nano-materials, toxicology and pharmacokinetic aspects. The chemical basis of the interaction between nanomaterials and biomolecules: multivalency and cooperativity. Acute cytotoxic cell damage. Toxic mechanisms, principles, measurements. Current knowledge on the toxicity of inorganic (silica, gold) and organic (microgels, liposomes, nanotubes, polymers)nanostructures. Uptake-clearance, endocytosis and phagocytosis. Opsonization: plasma opsonins. Complement. Concept of protein crown. Concept of stealth property (or "invisibility") of a nano-structure. PEGylation. Proinflammatory, pro-immune, pro-coagulant activities: cytokines induction, radicals production, leukocyte and endothelial activation. Complement and coagulation cascades induced by macroscopic or nanoscopic bio-materials. Immune reaction. Measurements in vitro. Biodegradation and elimination from the body (kidney, bile).

III. Bio-active (transported) portion and applications: drugs, immunostimulants, DNA. Direct action of the nanomaterial, photoactivation, magnetic field activation. Applications: fluorescent biomarking of tissues and cells, in vivo imaging, diagnosis. Drug and gene delivery. Vaccines. Immunological adjuvants. Detection of pathogens. Detection of proteins. Probing the structure of DNA. Tissue engineering.
Hyperthermal therapies. Separation and purification of biological molecules and cells. Contrast agents in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Phagokinetic studies.

IV. Laboratory. The practical part will be introduced by preparatory lectures. It will consist of the synthesis of nanosystems, among which will be nanoparticles (both organic and inorganic/metallic) coated with organic (charged) ligands; liposomes (some fluorophoric molecules will be incapsulated and released by appropriate stimuli); hydrogels based on amino acids and peptides. These nanosystems will be characterized using spectroscopic techniques, such as UV-vis, fluorescence, and dinamic light scattering. Next, the student will test the biocompatibility of the nanosystems produced in biological a-cellular (plasma) or cellular (stabilized human cell lines) models. Examples of possible characterization are: blood coagulation tests, complement activation, citotoxicity, cellular uptake.
Planned learning activities and teaching methods: The course is organized in 40 hours of lectures, where the topics are presented with the support of slides and 48 hours in the laboratory (32 hours in a chemistry lab and 16 in a biology lab).
Maximum participation of students is stimulated by invitations to debate and opportunities for discussion.
Additional notes about suggested reading: To date, there are no textbooks that deal with the course subjects in an organic way.
The teaching material consists of copies of the slides provided by the teachers, of lecture notes and scientific review articles indicated by the teachers.
Textbooks (and optional supplementary readings)