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The series Topics in Current Chemistry Collections presents critical reviews from the journal Topics in Current Chemistry organized in topical volumes. The scope of coverage is all areas of chemical science including the interfaces with related disciplines such as biology, medicine and materials science. The goal of each thematic volume is to give the non-specialist reader, whether in academia or industry, a comprehensive insight into an area where new research is emerging which is of interest to a larger scientific audience.
Each review within the volume critically surveys one aspect of that topic and places it within the context of the volume as a whole. The most significant developments of the last 5 to 10 years are presented using selected examples to illustrate the principles discussed. The coverage is not intended to be an exhaustive summary of the field or include large quantities of data, but should rather be conceptual, concentrating on the methodological thinking that will allow the non-specialist reader to understand the information presented. Contributions also offer an outlook on potential future developments in the field.



TiO2 Nanomaterials in Photoelectrochemical and Electrochemiluminescent Biosensing

Titanium dioxide ( TiO2) is increasingly being used in biosensing applications. Herein, we review the most recent developments in photoelectrochemical (PEC) and electrochemiluminescent (ECL) biosensing based on TiO2 nanomaterials, as well as the mechanisms that lead to the improved performance of biosensors that incorporate these nanomaterials. The merits of TiO2- based ECL and PEC biosensing strategies are summarized by highlighting some illustrative examples that have been reported within the last 5 years. The future prospects for and challenges in this field are also discussed.
Xiangui Ma, Chao Wang, Fengxia Wu, Yiran Guan, Guobao Xu

DNA-Iron oxide nanoparticles conjugates: functional magnetic nanoplatforms in biomedical applications

The use of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs), such as iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs), in biomedicine is considered to be a valuable alternative to the more traditional materials due to their chemical stability, cost-effectiveness, surface functionalization, and the possibility to selectively attach and transport targeted species to the desired location under a magnetic field. One of the many main applications of MNPs is DNA separation, which enables genetic material manipulation; consequently, MNPs are used in numerous biotechnological methods, such as gene transfection and molecular recognition systems. In addition, the interaction between the surfaces of MNPs and DNA molecules and the magnetic nature of the resulting composite have facilitated the development of safe and effective gene delivery vectors to treat significant diseases, such as cancer and neurological disorders. Furthermore, the special recognition properties of nucleic acids based on the binding capacity of DNA and the magnetic behavior of the nanoparticles allowing magnetic separation and concentration of analytes have led to the development of biosensors and diagnostic assays; however, both of these applications face important challenges in terms of the improvement of selective nanocarriers and biosensing capacity. In this review, we discuss some aspects of the properties and surface functionalization of MNPs, the interactions between DNA and IONPs, the preparation of DNA nanoplatforms and their biotechnological applications, such as the magnetic separation of DNA, magnetofection, preparation of DNA vaccines, and molecular recognition tools.
José Raúl Sosa‑Acosta, Claudia Iriarte‑Mesa, Greter A. Ortega, Alicia M. Díaz‑García

Magnetic Nanoparticles as MRI Contrast Agents

Iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs) have emerged as a promising alternative to conventional contrast agents (CAs) for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They have been extensively investigated as CAs due to their high biocompatibility and excellent magnetic properties. Furthermore, the ease of functionalization of their surfaces with different types of ligands (antibodies, peptides, sugars, etc.) opens up the possibility of carrying out molecular MRI. Thus, IONPs functionalized with epithelial growth factor receptor antibodies, short peptides, like RGD, or aptamers, among others, have been proposed for the diagnosis of various types of cancer, including breast, stomach, colon, kidney, liver or brain cancer. In addition to cancer diagnosis, different types of IONPs have been developed for other applications, such as the detection of brain inflammation or the early diagnosis of thrombosis. This review addresses key aspects in the development of IONPs for MRI applications, namely, synthesis of the inorganic core, functionalization processes to make IONPs biocompatible and also to target them to specific tissues or cells, and finally in vivo studies in animal models, with special emphasis on tumor models.
Ashish Avasthi, Carlos Caro, Esther Pozo‑Torres, Manuel Pernia Leal, María Luisa García‑Martín

Gold, silver and iron oxide nanoparticles: Synthesis and bionanoconjugation strategies aiming to electrochemical applications

Nanomaterials have revolutionized the sensing and biosensing fields, with the development of more sensitive and selective devices for multiple applications. Gold, silver and iron oxide nanoparticles have played a particularly major role in this development. In this review, we provide a general overview of the synthesis and characteristics of gold, silver and iron oxide nanoparticles, along with the main strategies for their surface functionalization with ligands and biomolecules. Finally, different architectures suitable for electrochemical applications are reviewed, as well as their main fabrication procedures. We conclude with some considerations from the authors’ perspective regarding the promising use of these materials and the challenges to be faced in the near future.
Claudia Iriarte‑Mesa, Yeisy C. López, Yasser Matos‑Peralta, Karen de la Vega‑Hernández, Manuel Antuch

Quantum Dot bioconjugates for diagnostic applications

Quantum dots (QDs) are a special type of engineered nanomaterials with outstanding optoelectronic properties that make them as a very promising alternative to conventional luminescent dyes in biomedical applications, including biomolecule (BM) targeting, luminescence imaging and drug delivery. A key parameter to ensure successful biomedical applications of QDs is the appropriate surface modification, i.e. the surface of the nanomaterials should be modified with the appropriate functional groups to ensure stability in aqueous solutions and it should be conjugated with recognition elements capable of ensuring an efficient tagging of the BMs of interest. In this review we summarize the most relevant strategies used for surface modification of QDs and for their conjugation to BMs in preparation of their application in nanoplatforms for luminescent BM sensing and imaging-guided targeting. The applications of conjugations of photoluminescent QDs with different BMs in both in vitro and in vivo chemical sensing, immunoassays or luminescence imaging are reviewed. Recent progress in the application of functionalized QDs in ultrasensitive detection in bioanalysis, diagnostics and imaging strategies are reported. Finally, some key future research goals in the progress of bioconjugation of QDs for diagnosis are identified, including novel synthetic approaches, the need for exhaustive characterization of bioconjugates and the design of signal amplification schemes.
María Díaz‑González, Alfredo de la Escosura‑Muñiz, Maria Teresa Fernandez‑Argüelles, Francisco Javier García Alonso, Jose Manuel Costa‑Fernandez

Carbon Nanotubes in Biomedicine

Nowadays, biomaterials have become a crucial element in numerous biomedical, preclinical, and clinical applications. The use of nanoparticles entails a great potential in these fields mainly because of the high ratio of surface atoms that modify the physicochemical properties and increases the chemical reactivity. Among them, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have emerged as a powerful tool to improve biomedical approaches in the management of numerous diseases. CNTs have an excellent ability to penetrate cell membranes, and the sp2 hybridization of all carbons enables their functionalization with almost every biomolecule or compound, allowing them to target cells and deliver drugs under the appropriate environmental stimuli. Besides, in the new promising field of artificial biomaterial generation, nanotubes are studied as the load in nanocomposite materials, improving their mechanical and electrical properties, or even for direct use as scaffolds in body tissue manufacturing. Nevertheless, despite their beneficial contributions, some major concerns need to be solved to boost the clinical development of CNTs, including poor solubility in water, low biodegradability and dispersivity, and toxicity problems associated with CNTs’ interaction with biomolecules in tissues and organs, including the possible effects in the proteome and genome. This review performs a wide literature analysis to present the main and latest advances in the optimal design and characterization of carbon nanotubes with biomedical applications, and their capacities in different areas of preclinical research.
Viviana Negri, Jesús Pacheco‑Torres, Daniel Calle, Pilar López‑Larrubia

Bioconjugated Plasmonic Nanoparticles for Enhanced Skin Penetration

Plasmonic nanoparticles (NPs) are one of the most promising and studied inorganic nanomaterials for different biomedical applications. Plasmonic NP s have excellent biocompatibility, long-term stability against physical and chemical degradation, relevant optical properties, well-known synthesis methods and tuneable surface functionalities. Herein, we review recently reported bioconjugated plasmonic NPs using different chemical approaches and loading cargoes (such as drugs, genes, and proteins) for enhancement of transdermal delivery across biological tissues. The main aim is to understand the interaction of the complex skin structure with biomimetic plasmonic NPs. This knowledge is not only important in enhancing transdermal delivery of pharmaceutical formulations but also for controlling undesired skin penetration of industrial products, such as cosmetics, sunscreen formulations and any other mass-usage consumable that contains plasmonicNPs.
David Alba‑Molina, Juan J. Giner‑Casares, Manuel Cano

Proteins-based nanocatalyts for energy conversion reactions

In recent years, the incorporation of molecular enzymes into nanostructured frameworks to create efficient energy conversion biomaterials has gained increasing interest as a promising strategy owing to both the dynamic behavior of proteins for their electrocatalytic function and the unique properties of the synergistic interactions between proteins and nanosized materials. Herein, we review the impact of proteins on energy conversion fields and the contribution of proteins to the improved activity of the resulting nanocomposites. We address different strategies to fabricate proteinbased nanocatalysts as well as current knowledge on the structure–function relationships of enzymes during the catalytic processes. Additionally, a comprehensive review of state-of-the-art bioelectrocatalytic materials for water-splitting reactions such as hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reactions (OER) is afforded. Finally, we briefly envision opportunities to develop a new generation of electrocatalysts towards the electrochemical reduction of N2 to NH3 using theoretical tools to built nature-inspired nitrogen reduction reaction catalysts.
Daily Rodriguez‑Padron, Md Ariful Ahsan, Mohamed Fathi Sanad, Rafael Luque, Alain R. Puente Santiago
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