Nano-tools for the nervous system, from regenerative scaffolds to nanoparticles

CNR Nano
Fabio Taddei, Stefan Heun


The nervous system (NS) is the most complex and fascinating organ of the human body. Unfortunately, NS injuries or diseases are dramatically difficult to treat because of the complexity and inaccessibility of the central nervous system (CNS) from one side, and of the very slow and ineffective repair mechanisms of the peripheral nervous system (PNS) to the other side. Nowadays nanotechnology is providing unprecedented opportunities to develop new functional materials for a variety of biomedical applications. Indeed, several life sciences applications are adopting nanotechnology to a variable extent to go beyond the current state-of-the-art. Nanostructures have the potential to be utilized as scaffolds for neurodifferentiation and neuroregeneration, or as vehicles for the delivery of drugs. In this seminar, I will talk about my research activity on the development of biocompatible nano/micro-structured materials to study and cure PNS & CNS pathologies. In particular, I will report on: - the development of biocompatible micro-structured scaffolds, with specific directional topographies and tuneable stiffness, to heal the PNS trauma, for nerve regeneration applications [1]. - the exploitation of nanostructured substrates to study the molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal mechanosensing, guidance and migration in neurodevelopmental disorders related to ubiquitin ligase E3a (UBE3A) (i.e. Angelman Syndrome, AutismSDs) [2,3]. - the development of nanovectors for the non-invasive intranasal delivery of oligonucleotide drugs to the brain [4].
[1] Chitosan micro-grooved membranes with increased asymmetry for improving Schwann cell response in nerve regeneration. Scaccini L, Mezzena R, De Masi A, Gagliardi MC, Gambarotta G, Cecchini M, Tonazzini I. Int J Mol Sci 2021, 22, 7901.
[2] The role of ubiquitin ligase E3A in polarized contact guidance and rescue strategies in UBE3A-deficient hippocampal neurons. Tonazzini I, Van Woerden GM, Masciullo C, Mientjes E, Elgersma Y, Cecchini M. Mol Autism 2019, 10: 41.
[3] Study of adhesion and migration dynamics in Ubiquitin E3A ligase (UBE3A)-silenced SYSH5Y neuroblastoma cells by micro-structured surfaces. Mezzena R, Masciullo C, Antonini S, Cremisi F, Scheffner M, Cecchini M, Tonazzini I. Nanotechnology 2021, 32:025708. doi: 10.1088/1361-6528/abbb03.
[4] Crosslinked chitosan nanoparticles with muco-adhesive potential for intranasal delivery applications. Gagliardi M, Chiarugi S, De Cesari C, Di Gregorio G, Diodati A, Baroncelli L, Cecchini M, Tonazzini I. Int J Mol Sci 2023, 24, 6590.
- Innovative brain-targeting nano-tools and imaging methods for therapeutic development in Angelman Syndrome (InnovAS) - International Angelman Syndrome Alliance (ASA)
- Touch on a chip (TOaC) - PRIN Bando 2020
- Isolamento e caratterizzazione molecolare di esosomi neurali in modelli di disturbi del neurosviluppo (END) - Regione Toscana Bando AR 2021 & FPS.
- Study of neuronal sensing and migration/guidance dynamics in neurodevelopmental disorders by nano-engineered chips (NEUROGUIDE) - H2020 Marie Curie Individual Fellowship 2018