A. Sofia Silva



MIT-Portugal Bioengineering Systems, NOVA University of Lisbon

Ph.D. Student - Bioengineering Systems from MIT-Portugal Program, Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal. Advisors: Professors Ana Aguiar-Ricardo and Ilídio J. Correia

2009-2011: Master on Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal

2006-2009: Graduation on Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal

Aerosolized gold-nanodevices for theranostic lung delivery

Aerosol therapy using particulate drug carrier systems is becoming a widely held method to deliver therapeutic or/and diagnostic compounds locally. In fact, pulmonary delivery is the most promising route for delivery of peptide, protein and drugs in alternative to injection. Lungs are known by their large alveolar surface area, the low thickness of the epithelial barrier, extensive vascularization and relatively low proteolytic activity in the alveolar space which are suitable parameters for drug absorption. Furthermore, healthy lungs cells exhibit relatively low local metabolic activity and, therefore, pulmonary inhalation is not subjected to the first pass metabolism. Such features enable the local application of drugs to the respiratory tract via inhalation for the treatment of specific lung diseases with lower systemic exposure, reducing side effects.

The main goal of this PhD project is to develop and characterize theranostic gold nanoparticles grafted with fluorescent oligomers (produced in scCO2 conditions) and specific targeting sequences which will deliver a fluorescent probe for live imaging and a specific drug for cancer treatment, simultaneously. Furthermore, due to surface plasmon resonance caused by the collective coherent oscillation of the free electrons of the gold nanoparticles, ones can scatter and/or absorb light both in the visible and the NIR spectrum, which is an exceptional useful property for in vivo optical imaging techniques like Computed Tomography (CT), Biosensing and Photothermal Therapy (PT). The produced nanosystems are then encapsulated into microparticles through scCO2 assisted methods for a suitable delivery and release of the nanosystems to pulmonary alveolus. Morphological, spectral, and biocompatibility characterizations are performed for the developed carriers. Aerodynamic properties are also evaluated in accordance with the European and United States Pharmacopeia.