Nanotechnology for biomedical applications and biosensors

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
Incorporation of functionalised and modified nanostructures in various biomedical applications has generated considerable research interest in recent years. The applications of nanotechnology in medicine and biomedical engineering are vast and spans areas such as implant and tissue engineering, diagnosis and therapy.
This course is intended to provide the student with a general background in the field of nanotechnology applied to biological systems and biomedical applications. In particular, during the course different typologies of nanoparticles will be described focusing on their employment as drug delivery systems, diagnostic probes and sensors for the study of biological interactions.
The course is ideally linked to those dealing with chemistry and materials science.
Expected learning outcomes
After following this course, the students are expected to:
- have acquired a general knowledge about the use of nanotechnologies in biomedical applications
- have understood the general structure and working mechanism of biosensors
- have acquired a basic knowledge about the preparation and functionalization of different typologies of nanoparticles
- have understood the advantages and disadvantages of using different typologies of nanoparticles according to the application
- have acquired the technical vocabulary needed to critically read research articles and to present them in oral and written forms.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
First semester
More specific information on the delivery modes of training activities for academic year 2021/22 will be provided over the coming months, based on the evolution of the public health situation.
Course syllabus
Lectures by Prof. Valentina Pifferi (24 hours, 3CFU) will first focus on sensors for biomedical applications: definition of sensor and biosensor, similarities and differences, their applications and their classification. Lectures will then describe the features of a good sensor, the biological components and their immobilization systems. The last part will focus on different types of transduction systems: electrochemical transducers (potentiometric, amperometric, voltammetric and conductimetric transducers); FET (IGFET, CHEMFET, ISFET, ENFET); optical transducers; piezoelectric transducers; thermal transducers. Applications to real cases will be discussed.
Lectures by Dr. Daniela Arosio (24 hours, 3CFU) will first provide a general introduction about bio-nanotechnology: (i) advantages of the use of nanoparticles (NPs) in biomedical applications (sensors for the study of biological interactions; drug delivery systems, contrast media for diagnostic techniques); (ii) influence of the materials employed for NPs fabrication as well as of their physico-chemical properties (size, shape, surface charge, etc) in biological interactions; (iii) general approaches for surface functionalization; (iv) passive and active targeting.
Lectures will then describe different typologies of nanoparticles both based on organic material (liposomes, polymeric NPs, polymeric micelles, polymersomes, dendrimers, polymer/lipid-DNA complexes i.e. "polyplexes"/"lipoplexes" , etc) and on inorganic material (iron oxide magnetic NPs, gold NPs, mesoporous silica NPs, etc). General characteristics, physico-chemical properties, methods of fabrication and functionalization will be described for each type of NPs, together with examples of applications.
Prerequisites for admission
Very basic knowledge of general and inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry and physical chemistry
Teaching methods
Teaching mode: classroom lectures supported by projected material. Attendance is highly recommended.
Teaching Resources
Recommended books: B. R. Eggins, "Chemical Sensors and Biosensors", Wiley; Florinel-Gabriel Bănică, "Chemical Sensors and Biosensors", Wiley. Reviews and scientific articles about the subjects of the lessons will be provided.

Copies of the slides as well as other materials will be made available through the course website on the ARIEL platform of the University of Milan ( The material is made available only to registered students of the Degree Course in Molecular Biotechnology and Bioinformatics and should not be distributed to others.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The evaluation of the student's performance will be based on an oral exam with open questions on subjects covered during the course. For students attending the course, two "in itinere" partial exams are planned.
The mark is provided on a 30-points scale. In the case of partial exams, the final mark is the average of the scores obtained in the two parts.
CHIM/01 - ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
CHIM/06 - ORGANIC CHEMISTRY - University credits: 0
Lectures: 48 hours