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Mattia Bramini

My Research - Exploring nanoparticles trafficking in the cerebral nervous system

PhD student, Mattia BraminiThe aim of my project is to establish and validate the first in-vitro blood-brain-barrier (BBB) model using immortalised human endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3), and to determine if engineered nanoparticles present a significant neuro-toxicological risk to humans. 

In vitro models of such a barrier can be used to assess the capability of nanoparticles to cross a physiological barrier and follow the localisation in time and space of nanoparticles, in a quantitative and reproducible manner. This will be achieved by a combination of electron microscopy and fluorescence based techniques, including fluorescence microscopy, high content analysis and live cell imaging of single nanoparticles inside the cell, thus enabling us to study nanoparticle uptake from the early entry to their final localisation.

In particular, particles of different sizes and surface composition will be used in order to relate the eventual translocation behaviour to the different biological coronas that will be formed upon contact with serum. Ultimately, nanoparticles with chemically bound proteins can be used in order to manipulate the corona layer and to elucidate the protein-receptor interactions that are involved in the transport of nanoparticles across the BBB.

Working with:

Professor Kenneth Dawson


Mantova, Italy

A scientist because?

What is life? How do genes and proteins function and regulate within an organism? What are the underlying workings of cells? It was these initial curiosities that led me into this magnetic world of biology. When I first saw the structural diagram of the mysterious DNA double helix, and when I started my medical studies after entering university, verifying my hypotheses through laboratory experiments, I could not help marvelling and feeling excited over this exquisite structure where the secrets of life inhabit.

When I hang up my lab coat, I love to…

...play water-polo, read and have a pint with friends.

Why choose UCD Conway?

After finishing my university studies, I wanted to undertake a PhD abroad that would satisfy my interest in neuro-nanobiology. The opportunity presented itself thanks to my Italian master's degree supervisor, A.M. Gatti. My research at her laboratory of biomaterials was supported by the European Community project called DIPNA (Development of an Integrated Platform for Nanoparticle Analysis to verify their possibly toxicity and eco-toxicity). Through this project, which has many partner European universities, I heard about the CBNI (Center for BioNano Interaction) led by Prof. Kenneth Dawson and currently based in UCD Conway Institute. This kind of Institute is the ideal place to do high level research. You can work together with chemists, biologists and physicists from all over the world, using and taking advantage of the most sophisticated technologies and instruments available. It is unique to experience the international atmosphere in a centre like this, and the science you can learn and experience not only in the laboratory but by attending the weekly seminars of the Institute is also unique.

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