Official website:

Project duration: January 2020 – December 2022

Croatian project coordinator: Dr. sc. Ivana Vinković Vrček, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Croatia  

Slovenian project coordinator: Selestina Gorgieva, University of Maribor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Institute for Engineering Materials and Design, Maribor, Slovenia

Funded by: Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Croatia and Javna agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike (ARRS).

Project Partners:

Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health, Zagreb, Croatia  

University of Maribor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Institute for Engineering Materials and Design, Slovenia

Abstract: Blood brain barrier (BBB) have a major role in the maintenance of the homeostasis within central nervous system, as it acts as a dynamic barrier of the brain, protecting it from toxic substances coming from the bloodstream. Its complex function is enabled by tight junctions between brain microvascular endothelial cells, which inhibit the passage of specific molecules physically on one side and inactivate some drugs and neurotransmitters by enzymatic action on another side. Aside of these protective functions, the BBB restricts penetration of some brain-targeting drugs like during treatment of neurodegenerative diseases and brain tumors. During development of such drugs, their quality, efficacy and safety should be evaluated by different in vitro and in vivo approaches. One of important step during such testings is to apply relevant in vitro mimetic BBB model. Extensive research has been done up to now in development of such models as platform for testing of drugs permeability to reduce costs and the use of animals. In perfect case, in vitro model may accelerate the whole evaluation procedure. However, existing (commercial) model systems suffer on several obstacles. One of most, but not least hurdles in applying in vitro models for BBB is adsorption and/or permeability of tested compounds like different nano-enabled materials, when sticking of material and clogging of the membrane during transportation process may occur. Proposed project aims to develop novel and more efficient in vitro BBB system based on the inclusion of bacterial cellulose (BC) as a basement membrane. Main project result will be a detailed strategy for development of efficient in vitro BBB model that can be applied for testing of nano-enabled drug delivery systems. This bilateral project also present initiation of common research activities between both groups in the area of bio-and nano-medical research that relies on the continuation of ˝proof of concepts˝ already established within both groups. Obtained results is expected to feed up the initiated FET OPEN project (being in preparation step), as well as to serve as background in upcoming research call, related to Health, wellbeing and demographic change program within Horizon 2020, as well as following Horizon EUROPE, not excluding the other granting schemes, such as M.Era.Net and COST actions. Dissemination channels (conference presentation, workshops) will be used as formal tool for data sharing, as well as critical review of obtained results. Nonetheless, the project is also a great opportunity for the involved early-stage researchers to develop their careers within an international collaborative environment, together with people from different cultural, socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.