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ES30_Science and Engineering of Polymeric Biomaterials (ZIBIO)_Jose Ramón Sarasua Oiz

Jose Ramon Sarasua Oiz/Aitor Larrañaga Espartero

946014271/946 01 4078,

Group description

The research group in Science and Engineering of Polymeric Biomaterials- ZIBIO group is a research group recognized in the successive calls of groups of the Basque Government- Ministry of Education, Universities and Research which carries out its research activities in the Department of Mining and Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science of the Faculty of Engineering of Bilbao (UPV-EHU) ( Since 2012 the ZIBIO group is part of the Basque Research Center for Macromolecular Design and Engineering (POLYMAT),

ZIBIO group is a multidisciplinary team committed to research activities and undergraduate/postgraduate students training. The research group consist of six university senior researcher who lecture also within the doctoral program in Advanced Materials Engineering and Sustainable Processes of the Doctoral School of the University of the Basque Country - Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea (UPV / EHU) and several national and international PhD and Post-Doc students.

ZIBIO group focuses its research activities on the development of new polymeric biomaterials with potential application in the field of biomedicine. Research in ZIBIO group includes the study and development of (co)polyesters based on polylactides and (macro)lactones on which our current four research lines are based. The multiple and multidisciplinary tasks for the development of these new systems of biodegradable polymeric biomaterials with advanced functionalities will provide us knowledge in molecular nanotechnology (Synthesis-Characterization-Advanced Processing), in nanomedicine (Chemistry-Biology) and in in vitro and in vivo cell and animal models required in the field of Tissue Engineering. The research lines are (1) Functionalizable (Co)polyesters with improved thermo-mechanical properties: Development of novel copolyesters and stereocomplexes with new functionalities, (2) Polymer blends with drugs and bioactive molecules: Development of smart solid platforms with improved bioavailability of drugs and biologically active molecules, (3) Nanostructured polymers and nanocomposites: (3.1) Development of electroactive nanostructured scaffolds for neural and bone tissue engineering, (3.2) Development of hybrid systems with improved toughness and functionalities (radiopacity, magnetic, antibacterial) and (4) Hybrid polymeric systems with advanced functionalities: Development of micro/nano-particles and nanocapsules with advanced functionalities for combinatorial therapies.

Most of these polymeric systems mentioned before are then transform into 3D scaffolds by advanced manufacturing techniques, such as, additive manufacturing or/and, electrospinning or by traditional thermoplastic processing techniques, e.g.: injection molding, compression molding, extrusion.

The ZIBIO group has collaborated within the field of Biomaterials in recent years with numerous research groups, both national and international, as can be seen reflected in joint publications with the groups of prof. Philippe Dubois from the Univ. Mons (Belgium), prof. José Kenny and Carmen Mijangos from the CSIC-ICTP in Madrid, profs. Fernando Unda and prof. Ana Alonso-Varona from the UPV / EHU, prof. Philippe Serp. from the Univ. Toulouse (France) and prof. Wenxing Wang of the National University of Ireland, prof. Gaétan Laroche (Laval University, Québec).

At this time, open collaboration are maintained related to the thematic framework of functional biopolymers with the following PI and research groups:  prof. Abhay Pandit [CURAM devices-Galway], Dr. Marcelo Calderon [Responsive Polymer Therapeutics Group], Cesar Rodriguez-Emmenegger [DWI Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials RWTH Aachen University].


  • Biodegradable polymers
  • Scaffolds
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Polyester
  • 3D printing
  • Synthesis
  • Nano- and micro-composites
  • Nanoparticles
  • Hydrogels
  • Functional polymers

Team Description

  • Jose Ramon Sarasua (Principal Investigator)

    ORCID: 0000-0002-7468-2417

  • Aitor Larrañaga Espartero (Principal Investigator)

    ORCID: 0000-0002-2123-6069

  • Emiliano Meaurio (Research staff)

    ORCID: 0000-0001-5132-0424

  • Ester Zuza (Research staff)

    ORCID: 0000-0002-8933-1986

  • Ainhoa Lejardi (Research staff)

    ORCID: 0000-0003-4139-4395

  • Jone Muñoz Ugartemendia (Research staff)

    ORCID: 0000-0002-7158-5371

  • Upashi Goswani (Post-Doctoral Researcher)

    ORCID: 0000-0003-4377-5984


  • poliésteres biodegradables nanostructurados y nanocomposites para aplicaciones en regeneración de tejido

    Pl: Jose Ramon Sarasua Oiz y Emiliano Meaurio Arrate

    Funding Agency*: National

    Ongoing: yes

    Project reference: MINECOG19/P22

  • Improved Protection of Medical Devices Against Infection. IPROMEDAI

    Pl: Jose Ramon Sarasua

    Funding Agency*: European

    Ongoing: no

    Project reference: COST-TD1305

  • Estudio y desarrollo de nuevos materiales compuestos biodegradables con bioactividad, radio-opacidad y propiedades mecánicas mejoradas

    Pl: Jose Ramon Sarasua Oiz y Emiliano Meaurio Arrate

    Funding Agency*: National

    Ongoing: no

    Project reference: MINECOG16/P48

  • Síntesis y caracterización de una nueva generación de copolímeros biodegradables y su estudio de interacciones y miscibilidad con moléculas

    Pl: Jose Ramon Sarasua

    Funding Agency*: National

    Ongoing: no

    Project reference: MINECOG13/P58

  • Innovative tools to treat and model complex cancer environments – Theratools

    Pl: Ana Beloqui

    Funding Agency*: EU

    Ongoing: yes

    Project reference: 101073404 (HORIZON-TMA-MSCA-DN-JD)

* INT - International EU - European NAT - National RE - Regional


  • Marin, E ; Tiwari, N; Calderon, M ; Sarasua, JR; Larranaga, A, Smart Layer-by-Layer Polymeric Microreactors: pH-Triggered Drug Release and Attenuation of Cellular Oxidative Stress as Prospective Combination Therapy, ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES, 2021

  • Sadaba, N; Larranaga, A; Orpella-Aceret, G; Bettencourt, AF; Martin, V; Biggs, M; Ribeiro, IAC; Ugartemendia, JM; Sarasua, JR; Zuza, E, Benefits of Polydopamine as Particle/Matrix Interface in Polylactide/PD-BaSO(4)Scaffolds, INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR SCIENCES, 2020

  • Larranaga, A ; Lomora, M; Sarasua, JR; Palivan, CG; Pandit, A, Polymer capsules as micro-/nanoreactors for therapeutic applications: Current strategies to control membrane permeability, PROGRESS IN MATERIALS SCIENCE, 2017

  • Sanchez-Rexach, E; Iturri, J; Fernandez, J; Meaurio, E; Toca-Herrera, JL; Sarasua, JR, Novel biodegradable and non-fouling systems for controlled-release based on poly(epsilon-caprolactone)/Quercetin blends and biomimetic bacterial S-layer coatings, RSC ADVANCES, 2019

  • Ugartemendia, JM; Larranaga, A; Amestoy, H Etxeberria, A; Sarasua, JR, Tougher biodegradable polylactide system for bone fracture fixations: Miscibility study, phase morphology and mechanical properties, EUROPEAN POLYMER JOURNAL, 2018

Research Lines


The biological performance of a material depends on the extent it is capable of mimicking the microenvironment of the native tissue. Based on this biomimetic approach, in last decade, scaffolds with different geometries and physical, chemical and mechanical property gradients have been investigated to promote tissue regeneration. However, little is explored about how to create electroactive scaffolds with controlled delivering electric cues to stimulate cellular response. Electroactive scaffolds which mimics the piezoelectric coefficients of natural tissue may be a suitable approach for the repair and regeneration of skeletal and neural tissues.

Piezoelectric polymers and composites based on Poly(L-Lactide) (PLLA) have emerged as a class of smart materials to fulfill this requirement. Moreover, their thermoplastic character makes them easy to be processed by advanced manufacturing techniques such as, electrospinning, extrusion based 3D printing or recently employed melt electrowriting. Blending and the incorporation of different ceramic fillers such as, hydroxyapatite (HA), zinc oxide (ZnO) particles [antimicrobial], barium titanate (BT), or cellulose nanocrystals (CNC) can help in tuning both, the piezoelectric behavior and the mechanical properties.

These characteristics are also dependent on the specific geometry of the scaffold (alignment, porosity and orientation). There are however challenges in processing and formulation of the raw material for inducing piezoelectricity. Fabricating piezoelectric scaffolds with optimized value of piezoelectric constant and mechanical properties and assessing cellular responses on polarized samples will depend on several factors: 1.-Blending composition 2.-Filler type and content, 3.-Processing variables, 4.- Structure of the scaffold; geometry (porous-like, linear channels etc.)

This project aims to fabricate 3D electroactive scaffolds with tunable piezoelectricity and mechanical properties for its application in osseous and neural tissue engineering. This objective is challenging as it is necessary to control both the material properties in bulk and the material processing parameters. This research line intends to control such characteristics at different length scales, from microstructures fabricated by 3D melt extrusion printing to nanostructures fabricated by electrowriting and electrospinning.

A number of monomers are commercially available for the synthesis of (co)polyesters, such as, lactide, glycolide and ε-caprolactone, three of the best known cyclic esters. The racemic stereochemistry, the length of straight methylenes and the ratio of ester groups will determine the biodegradation rates and properties of the copolymers obtained from them.

Our research group in science and engineering of polymeric biomaterials is committed to the study and development of biodegradable polyester based biomaterials for applications in the medical field. During the last years our group has obtained relevant results and contributions on the synthesis of (co)polyesters by Ring Opening Polymerization (ROP) of lactides, lactones and macrolactones and a number of articles and a patent have been published during our previous research in this field.

From the spectrum of monomers and copolymerization strategies we have developed in our research group (co)polymers of either high glass transition temperature (Tg) or low Tg that can be suited for medical applications involving both hard tissue and soft tissue regeneration. Crystallization ability aspects of (co)polyesters are also relevant since their effect on their mechanical properties and bodegradation rates. Some of the contributions of our group to this field are described next. The high Tg homopolymer Poly (L-lactic acid) (PLLA) and its stereocomplex, PLLA/PDLA, are semicrystalline, mechanically rigid and strong and a priori present proper mechanical properties for uses involving hard tissue regeneration (bone.) Poly (ε-caprolactone) (PCL) and Poly (ethylene brassylate) ,for example, present low Tg and are more prone to be used for regeneration of soft tissues (cartilage, neural,, urology, etc.). The proper (co)polymerization strategies allow us to have a full spectrum of (co)polyesters going from rigid and strong to elastomeric, depending on their compositions and chain microstructures, semycrystalline or amorphous in character, and with a range of biodegradation properties (faster or slower) to be used depending the different tissue regeneration strategies required.

The polymers presented in this project are therefore essentially biodegradable and biocompatible. We will particularly use specific (co)polyesters to develop novel nanostructured polymeric biomaterials and nanocomposites that present a great potential to develop medical devices with tuned mechanical and biodegradation properties applicable to both hard and soft tissue regeneration. In this research line we propose the study and development of nanostructured biodegradable (co)polyesters and nanocomposites for tissue engineering applications. Moreover, their transformation by advanced processing techniques such as 3D printing will be thoroughly studied. 


Cross-border Collaboration (if any)

POLYMAT actively collaborates with several research groups at University of Bordeaux.

Indeed, in the last years our researchers have participated in 3 European Projects either in the seventh framework programme (FP7) and in H2020, together with partners from University of Bordeaux:

FP7-Renaissance-ITN-2012-289347. Coordinated by UPV/EHU-POLYMAT

H2020-SUSPOL-EJD-2017-642671.Coordinated by UPV/EHU-POLYMAT


In addition, several PhD thesis in cotutelle with the laboratory of LCPO (Prof. Daniel Taton

and Prof. Henri Cramail) are currently running and have been accomplished within the last


On the other hand, a Joint Double Master Program in Polymer Science between the

University of the Basque Country and the University of Bordeaux with the advisory board

formed by POLYMAT researchers Prof. JR. Leiza and M. Paulis