Research focus

Preparation and characterization of new materials for tissue engineering

The usage of many materials can be limited because their surface properties are not suitable for some applications. Therefore, the goal of our research is a development of methods for the targeted modification of these surface properties to improve them and thus to expand the area of their use. We apply the chemical, physical, physico-chemical methods or their combination for modification of surface chemistry, charge, roughness, wettability, etc. These changes can lead to a subsequent better adhesion of new chemical substances that promote cell growth or limit the growth of bacteria and algae.

Contact: prof. Ing. Zdeňka Kolská, Ph.D.

Research on nanofibrous membranes for antimicrobial nanofiltration

We are focused on the development of polymer nanofibrous membranes, which are prepared by electrospinning and at the same time chemically modified with antimicrobial substances. Air and liquid permeability characterizations and antimicrobial activity tests are also part of the research. We also test the stability of the membrane composition and the stability of their effectiveness in air purifiers. The production technology is so-called one-step, which means that modifying antimicrobial substances are inserted directly into the spinning solutions. These membranes are suitable for both air purifiers and face masks.

Contact: prof. RNDr. Pavla Čapková, DrSc.RNDr. Petr Ryšánek, Ph.D.

Development of nanocomposite membranes degrading dangerous toxic pollutants

In cooperation with commercial partners, we develop nanocomposite membranes for the degradation of hazardous substances. Polymeric nanofibrous membranes prepared by electrostatic needle spinning are chemically modified with nanoparticles of mixed oxides of transition metals and selected chemical substances for specific functions, e.g. for the degradation of toxic and particularly difficult to decompose pollutants (such as pesticides, cytostatics and nerve agents).

Contact: prof. RNDr. Pavla Čapková, DrSc.

Development of a new generation of organic/inorganic materials for CO2 detection, capture and utilization

We develop chemically modified nanostructured materials, nanofibrous membranes and nanocomposite materials based on nanofibers and nanoparticles for the selective capture of gases (CO2) from specific chemical and photocatalytic processes and their reuse.

Contact: prof. Ing. Zdeňka Kolská, Ph.D.

Advanced plasmon technologies for the production, storage and usage of “green” hydrogen

We participate in the development of nanocomposite materials for the selective capture and usage of “green” hydrogen as part of the cascade filtration of waste gases.

Contact: prof. Ing. Zdeňka Kolská, Ph.D.

Preparation and characterization of nanomaterials and nanostructured materials for the development of intelligent magnetic materials

Research is focused on the preparation of new magnetic materials in bulk form, anchored in a polymer medium, an organometallic network and/or deposited onto various polymer-based substrates. The prepared materials are characterized by the properties of the deposited components (surface structure, morphology, chemical composition, charge, optical properties, surface and porosity, magnetic properties) using a number of methods, and the materials are used to study the spin-lattice relaxation time, the change in magnetic dimensionality and the response to external excitation . The proposed studies will contribute to the understanding of the phenomena predicted in a new type of arrangement called “spinterface”.

Contact: prof. Ing. Zdeňka Kolská, Ph.D.

Exosomes as natural nanovesicles in intercellular communication and the study of their use for the drug transport into cells

Vesicles (EVs) derived from the plasma membrane – exosomes, are important indicators of physiological and pathological processes of the organism and individual cells. They transport informational and regulatory molecules. Exosomes have a significant influence as diagnostic markers and at the same time can influence, for example, the development of metastases in cancer diseases or the progression of degenerative changes, or the modulation of immune reactions. At the same time, EVs are widely studied for their ability to transport embedded regulatory molecules or drugs. EVs cross the blood-brain barrier and are therefore also being studied for therapeutic purposes targeting the CNS. The aim of the study is to characterize the production and composition of exosomes depending on therapeutic approaches. Furthermore, modulation of exosomes after interaction with drugs or nanomaterials, their transfer, as well as the possibility of transporting drugs and nanomaterials through them. Another goal of the study is also the creation of a new therapeutic approach – an in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier. for studying the drug and nanomaterials transfer and exosomes with drugs and nanomaterials transfer across the barrier.

Contact: Mgr. Olga Janoušková, Ph.D.

The developmental toxicity of nanomaterials in Zebrafish

The Zebrafish (Danio rerio) model organism allows for the testing of a wide range of substances in terms of their toxicity and general biological activity, biodistribution, or accumulation in the organism. Among the advantages of this organism is external embryonic development, which enables non-invasive and relatively simple direct monitoring of the development of the embryo and its possible deviations caused by the toxicity of the tested substances (e.g., synthetic or biological nanoparticles). Toxicity testing in zebrafish embryos follows the modified OECD guideline 236 (the so-called FET test), where the embryos are exposed to increasing concentrations of tested substances for a period of 96 hours. Subsequently, based on morphological changes, mortality is evaluated, and the LC50 value (concentration at which 50% of the tested embryos are considered dead) is determined.

Contact: Mgr. Michaela Liegertová, Ph.D.

Development of organs-on-a-chip for tissue barrier simulation and for 3D cell cultivation

With the rapidly growing demand for massive testing of new potentially effective drugs and the current ethical issues associated with the use of experimental animal models, the need for the development of alternative functional models of tissues, tissue barriers or complete organs is increasing at a significant pace. Recently, models based on a combination of microfluidic devices and cultured cells capable of mimicking a specific tissue or even an entire organ have been gaining interest. These so-called organs on a chip can significantly advance and speed up fundamental and applied biological research, which at some stage requires the testing of substances on living organisms. The basic premise of this approach is the ability to culture specific biological structures with the provision of a suitable microenvironment in their immediate surroundings, such as nutrient transport or metabolite removal. One of the challenging areas is the development of so-called tissue barriers (e.g., vascular endothelium, blood-brain barrier, vessel/tumor interface). These barriers are the sites where there is a selective permeation of substances (including drugs) from the blood into the tissues, or the permeation of exosomes and circulating tumor cells leading to metastases. The development of microfluidic tissue barriers requires providing conditions to create two environments with different dynamic flow of substances and composition, separated by a coherent layer of cells (depending on the type of model). We develop new types of microfluidic devices suitable for the construction of a biological model mimicking tissue barriers. In this research, we combine a number of approaches such as simulation of the hydrodynamic properties of the devices by computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modeling methods, fabrication of device prototypes by micro(nano)technological processes (laser and UV photolithography, dry etching – DRIE, bonding processes, 3D stereolithography, soft lithography) mainly from polymeric materials and testing prototypes’ performance during cell cultivations.

Contact: Mgr. Jan Malý, Ph.D.Mgr. Marcel Štofik, Ph.D.

Studies of the properties of the cytoskeleton

The cytoskeleton is a dynamic set of protein polymers responsible for basic mechanical, transport, and signaling functions of the cell (cell movement, resilience, division, intracellular transport, sensory functions, etc.).
To study the properties of the cytoskeleton, we are currently using a newly introduced model organism, the tardigrade Hypsibius exemplaris. Tardigrades are small invertebrates with very high tolerance to extreme environmental stresses (drought, low temperatures, radiation, high osmolarity, vacuum, etc.). Many of the most resistant species counter adverse conditions by morphologically transforming to a near-zero metabolic state called cryptobiosis. Under favorable conditions, however, they can revert back to their normal state. How these intriguing processes occur and what are their molecular mechanisms is still largely unknown. It is certain, however, that the cytoskeleton plays an essential role in the morphological changes. Nevertheless, very little is known about its structure and composition in tardigrades.
In our current project, we have developed bioinformatics tools for the analysis of tardigrade cytoskeletal genes in collaboration with Dr. Cedric Notredame’s group at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) in Barcelona. 
In the future, we plan to use rodent primary embryonic neuronal cultures to study splice variants of cytoskeletal genes during neuronal development. We would like to employ molecular biological methods (genome editing by Crispr/Cas9, microscopic analysis of neuronal development), and physical methods (study of differentiation and growth of wildtype and genetically modified neurons on specially modified surfaces or in different 3D environments).

Contact: Ing. Stanislav Vinopal, Ph.D.

Study of the interaction of nanomaterials with cellular systems or biological models and their use for targeted drug delivery

Research in this area is focused on monitoring a wide range of nanomaterials (polymers, nanocrystals, nanogels, dendrimers) intended for medical applications in interaction with cells or cell models in vitro. Nanomaterials as therapeutics can significantly help in minimizing the side effects of low molecular weight substances, further in targeting therapy and improving the biodistribution of drugs. The aim of the study is to describe the behavior of cells and cell models from the point of view of morphology, viability, changes in gene and protein expression, proliferation and differentiation after interaction with the nanomaterial. Next, a description of the behavior of nanomaterials in cells and cellular systems, especially transport, localization, stability, degradation. We carry out in vitro studies using classic 2D tissue cultures and also using 3D cultures – spheroids, which more closely mimic the natural tumor environment.

Contact: Mgr. Olga Janoušková, Ph.D.