FCT Funding Projects

Coordination of project funded by Portuguese Foundation



High performance multicompartmental spherical capsules for transplantation of multimodal co-cultures of adipose-derived stem cells and pancreatic islets

Period: 20-07-2018 – 19-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030770

Coordination: Mariana Oliveira – University of Aveiro


TranSphera aims at tackling current roadblocks in pancreatic transplantation through the design of biomaterials enabling enhanced immunomodulation, mainly through the exploitation of biomaterial-supported multiconfigurational implantable adipose stem cells (ASCs)/islets co-cultures. Despite the promising short-term results obtained in clinical trials, islet transplantation in diabetic patients has systematically failed. Mesenchymal stem cells arose in the last years as adjuvant players in the promotion of long term functionality of transplanted islets. However, their role as anti-inflammatory and proangiogenic secretome providers or as direct contact-dependent islet function boosting agents has not been completely clarified. In TranSphera, nanostructured and surface engineered polymeric hollow capsules with tailorable permeability will be used as improved encapsulation devices to contain ASCs and human islets in different co-culture setups targeting effective islet transplantation.



DNA Base Pairing-based Supramolecular Self-Sorting Devices: A Molecular Recognition and Biomimetic Technology to Screen Target Cells for Biomedical and Healthcare Applications

Period: 22-06-2018 – 21-06-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030658

Coordination: João Borges – University of Aveiro


The SUPRASORT project aims to bridge the gap between supramolecular chemistry and regenerative medicine by designing a pioneering supramolecular self-sorting device for the isolation and selective recruitment of specific cell types from a mixed cell population. The innovative device will bring together bioinspired building blocks, including marine-origin biopolymers and DNA nucleobases, as well as the “green” layer-by-layer processing technology to form bioactive complex free-standing multilayer systems. The supramolecular design will display two orthogonally patterned regions, assured by complementary DNA base pairs, to direct the immobilization of bioactive molecules in designed patterns for selective spatiotemporal controlled cell attachment. We envisage the use of such programmable devices as biomimetic self-regulated biomaterials for bone tissue regeneration, holding great promise to improve the quality and life expectancy of patients with bone lesions and reduce healthcare costs.



Platelet Lysate Hydrogels for Myocardial Repair

Period: 22-07-2018 – 21-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030869

Coordination: Catarina Custódio – University of Aveiro


Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality, and at present there is a total absence of effective therapies to restore full cardiac function post-myocardial Infarction. BEAT will investigate the use of human platelet lysate (PL) for the fabrication of a bioactive hydrogel with tailored mechanical and biochemical properties. These hydrogels can be easily injected to the site of injury and provide a protective and retentive environment for cells and release of biomolecules. Especially noteworthy, BEAT proposes the application of autologous hydrogels which eliminates the risk of disease transmission and immune rejection which is also strategic in the field of personalized medicine and TE. BEAT gel also has characteristics that improve chances for translational research and precision medicine: cost-effectiveness, easy to handle and works well with current clinical procedures (coronary micro-guided catheters).



Development of bioresorbable multilayered membranes for guided bone regeneration by using marine origin biopolymers intercalated with enzymes as innovative building blocks in order to control enzymatic mineralization

Period: 26-07-2018 – 25-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031210

Coordination: Sónia Patricio – University of Aveiro


Periodontal disease (PD) affects the world population constituting one of the principal cause of tooth loss in adults. Guided tissue/bone regeneration (GTR/GBR) membranes have been used as treatment in which they act as a physical barrier to protect the defect site and to prevent soft tissue to reach the injured area, as well as ?guide? the bone regeneration process. But, complete regeneration has not yet been reported. MIMETIc aims to create a pioneering and innovative biocompatible, bioresorbable and antimicrobial GTR/GBR multilayered membrane that will have asymmetric properties overcoming the limitations of the existing ones to treat PD. The membrane will be composed of natural marine origin polymer as it is also intended to valorise and exploit to the limit by-products from marine sources. They display a vast range of key properties that justify their use in high-tech fields. Thus by demonstrating such potential the ?blue biotechnology? will be boosted in Portugal.



Efficient methodologies for the conjugation of natural polysaccharides with peptides to obtain multifunctional membranes for periodontal regeneration

Period: 26-07-2018 – 25-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030771

Coordination: João Rodrigues – University of Aveiro


Periodontal disease is frequent in humans and constitutes the principal cause of tooth loss in adults. The progresses achieved in the last decades reveal an urgent necessity for new and improved biomaterials. Currently, one of the available treatment strategies for periodontal disease comprises the use of non-resorbable or resorbable membranes as barrier membranes for guided tissue/bone regeneration (GTR/GBR). Such membranes will act as a physical barrier to protect the defect site and to prevent soft tissue to reach the injured area, as well as “guide” the bone regeneration process. The COP2P project aims to develop enabling chemical methodologies to couple peptides with natural origin polymers using selective reactions, fabrication of innovative free-standing (FS) membranes using the layer-by-layer technology (LbL) and biological evaluation of FS the membranes in vitro studies.



Directing Bone Dynamics Through The Synergistic Action Of Immune Cells With Bioengineered Cell Microfactories Containing Patterned Microplatforms

Period: 22-07-2018 – 21-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031064

Coordination: Clara Correia – University of Aveiro


Strong affords have been made to engineer bone tissue. However, bone TE practices have not proceeded to clinical practice yet. The immune system (IS) is often neglected, although it plays an indispensable regulatory role in bone dynamics. CIRCUS is based on the combination of skeletal and IS systems within liquified and multilayered microcapsules. Three essential components should be considered: (i) a multilayered membrane wrapping all the core contents, which ensures permeability to nutrients and flexibility to the microcapsule; (ii) patterned microplatforms as novel cell domains; and (iii) co-cultures of osteoblastic, endothelial, and immune cells. We hypothesize that within such privilege cellular ecosystem an inductive regeneration niche towards the selfregulated development of vascularized bone-like microtissues could be recreated. We believe that CIRCUS could generate a novel generation of injectable biomimetic systems with clinical viability for orthopaedic applications.



Microencapsulated 3D+ Cancer-Stroma Microtumor-based In vitro Testing Platforms for High-Throughput Screening of Combinatorial Therapies for Pancreatic Cancer

Period: 22-07-2018 – 21-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-030503

Coordination: Vitor Gaspar – University of Aveiro


Pancreatic cancer (PANC) remains one of the deadliest cancers in Portugal. This reality demands for an urgent discovery of more effective treatments for this disease. However, such discovery is significantly hindered by the lack of in vitro models that can faithfully recapitulate the uniquely complex core-shell microenvironment of PANC in preclinical laboratorial stages. To overcome this gap, the PANGEIA project proposes the production of innovative 3D+ microcapsular drug-testing platforms that fully reproduce PANC structure and its cellular-acellular microenvironment components in vitro. The PANGEIA disruptive approach is envisioned to culminate in the development of a innovative technology for testing new combinatorial PANC therapies in an expedite and high-throughput mode. Its expected that 3D+ microcapsule tested combinations could contribute for significant advances in treatment of pancreatic neoplasias or others sharing similar core-shell structure like breast or lung tumors.



3D cells colonization in marine-derived hydrogels through controlled micro-channels patterning for bone repair

Period: 26-07-2018 – 25-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-029830

Coordination: Ana Sofia Silva – University of Aveiro


The present project aims at the engineering of micropatterned 3D marine-based hydrogels for bone repair purposes overcoming major limitations of the existent 3D bioscaffolds. PROMENADE intends to be at the cutting edge of a new generation of micropatterned 3D bioscaffolds for bone repair allowing orchestrated osteo- and angionesis by controlled biochemical stimulation and by co-culturing osteoprogenitor and endothelial cells. Specific topographies will be programed in the bioscaffolds using magnetic-field guiidance of surface-functionalized magnetic microparticles. By combining magnetic guidance and enzymatic degradation, complete control of the continuous 3D topographies can be created within the hydrogel, leaving open channels to coculture cellular types to better suit tissue constructs. The synergetic combination of functional biomaterials with cells and factor therapy is expected to bring new insights in the development of tissue engineered bone.



Engineering of marine-inspired high-performance multifunctional hydrogels for cartilage regeneration crosslinked with bioinstructive and sliding non-covalent bonds

Period: 26-07-2018 – 25-07-2021

Funding Scheme: FCT – POCI-01-0145-FEDER-031498

Coordination: João F. Mano – University of Aveiro


MARGEL plans the design of novel hydrogels based on the combination of catecholderived coordination bonds where the attachment points to the macromolecules is made through cyclodextrins able to slide along the chains. The proposed innovative supramolecular arrangement would permit to combine ultra-toughness, viscoelastic, self-healing and injectability properties to the hydrogels. The macromolecular design will be optimized to accommodate the long-term encapsulation of human stem cells and cell-mediated biodegradation. We envisage the use of such bio-instructive systems, namely as biomaterials for the regeneration of cartilage where cells and bioactive macromolecules can be transported and fixed in-situ through minimally invasive procedures. We expect that MARGEL could contribute for the treatment of chondral and osteochondral lesions due to injury or other pathology which commonly result in the development of osteoarthritis.