Maurizio Prato

Università degli Studi di Trieste, Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy

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Publications (585)3561.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Considerable progress in the synthesis and technology of hydrogels makes these materials attractive structures for designing controlled-release drug delivery systems. In particular, this review highlights the latest advances in nanocomposite hydrogels as drug delivery vehicles. The inclusion/incorporation of nanoparticles in three dimensional polymeric structures is an innovative means for obtaining multicomponent systems with diverse functionality within a hybrid hydrogel network. Nanoparticle-hydrogel combination adds synergistic benefits to the new 3D structures. Nanogels as carriers for cancer therapy and injectable gels with improved self-healing properties have also been described as new nanocomposite systems.
    ACS Nano 05/2015; DOI:10.1021/acsnano.5b01433 · 12.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To recreate in vitro 3D neuronal circuits will ultimately increase the relevance of results from cultured to whole-brain networks and will promote enabling technologies for neuro-engineering applications. Here we fabricate novel elastomeric scaffolds able to instruct 3D growth of living primary neurons. Such systems allow investigating the emerging activity, in terms of calcium signals, of small clusters of neurons as a function of the interplay between the 2D or 3D architectures and network dynamics. We report the ability of 3D geometry to improve functional organization and synchronization in small neuronal assemblies. We propose a mathematical modelling of network dynamics that supports such a result. Entrapping carbon nanotubes in the scaffolds remarkably boosted synaptic activity, thus allowing for the first time to exploit nanomaterial/cell interfacing in 3D growth support. Our 3D system represents a simple and reliable construct, able to improve the complexity of current tissue culture models. M odern neuroscience increasingly relies on material science tools to engineer 3D neuronal network models in vitro 1–4. Most studies in this area are dedicated to the fabrication of biocompatible supports able to guide stem cell differentiation and growth into organized neuronal circuits 5,6. In a parallel approach, growth supports are also engineered to obtain in vitro neural circuits, build up by primary brain cells, displaying a genuine 3D architecture. Allowing neurons to reconstruct synaptic networks in appropriate space coordinates and in the presence of homeostatic abilities expressed by neuroglia in the third-dimension may provide crucial insights into central nervous system (CNS) multilevel integration of signals in health and disease 1–4. This promoted the emergence of a new generation of culture models aimed at mimicking tissue complexity in vitro, in particular 3D neuronal arborisation. For example, 3D cultures were developed by growing dissociated primary neurons on combined tiers of silica beads, used as cell growth surfaces 3. In these systems the bottom layer of neurons was further interfaced to a 2D microelectrode array (MEA) to infer the impact of the multiple layers of interconnected neurons on the firing activity of the recorded cells 7
    Scientific Reports 04/2015; 5. DOI:10.1038/srep09562 · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report a facile approach for the in-situ synthesis of very small iron oxide nanoparticles on the surface of high-quality graphene sheets. Our synthetic strategy involved the direct, liquid-phase exfoliation of highly crystalline graphite (avoiding any oxidation treatment) and the subsequent chemical functionalization of the graphene sheets via the well-established 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition reaction. The resulting graphene derivatives were employed for the immobilization of the nanoparticle precursor (Fe cations) at the introduced organic groups by a modified wet-impregnation method, followed by interaction with acetic acid vapours. The final graphene-iron oxide hybrid material was achieved by heating (calcination) in an inert atmosphere. Characterization by X-ray diffraction, transmission electron and atomic force microscopy, Raman and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy gave evidence for the formation of rather small (<12 nm), spherical, magnetite-rich nanoparticles which were evenly distributed on the surface of few-layer (<1.2 nm thick) graphene. Due to the presence of the iron oxide nanoparticles, the hybrid material showed a superparamagnetic behaviour at room temperature.
    Nanoscale 04/2015; 7(19). DOI:10.1039/C5NR00765H · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: [(N,N'-Bis(2-(trimethylammonium)ethylene) perylene 3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic acid bisimide)(PF6)2] (1) was observed to spontaneously adsorb on nanocrystalline WO3 surfaces via aggregation/hydrophobic forces. Under visible irradiation (λ > 435 nm), the excited state of 1 underwent oxidative quenching by electron injection (kinj > 10(8) s(-1)) to WO3, leaving a strongly positive hole (Eox ≈ 1.7 V vs SCE), which allows to drive demanding photo-oxidation reactions in photoelectrochemical cells (PECs). The casting of IrO2 nanoparticles (NPs), acting as water oxidation catalysts (WOCs) on the sensitized electrodes, led to a 4-fold enhancement in photoanodic current, consistent with hole transfer from oxidized dye to IrO2 occurring on the microsecond time scale. Once the interaction of the sensitizer with suitable WOCs is optimized, 1/WO3 photoanodes may hold potentialities for the straightforward building of molecular level devices for solar fuel production.
    Journal of the American Chemical Society 04/2015; 137(14). DOI:10.1021/jacs.5b01519 · 11.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: An efficient method is presented for preparing hierarchical catalysts composed of multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) and Pd@CeO2 core-shell nanoparticles. These materials were then examined for the water gas shift reaction (WGSR), which demonstrated intimate contact between the constituent parts. The integration of the carbonaceous support improves the stability of the nanoparticles by ordering the dispersion of the inorganic phase and increases the activity by suppressing the deactivation of the active phase that is commonly observed in conventional Pd-CeO2 under reducing conditions, e.g. WGSR conditions. An optimum MWCNTs:Pd@CeO2 ratio exists that affords totally homogeneous structures and provides the best catalytic properties.
    Catalysis Today 04/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.cattod.2015.03.032 · 3.31 Impact Factor
  • Journal of the American College of Cardiology 03/2015; 65(10):A960. DOI:10.1016/S0735-1097(15)60960-3 · 15.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Control over chemical functionalization is a crucial point in the field of nanotechnology. Herein we present the covalent functionalization of several Carbon Nanoforms (Single Walled Carbon Nanotubes, Double Walled Carbon Nanotubes, Multi Walled Carbon Nanotubes and Carbon Nanohorns) by means of diphenyl dichalchogenides. These ones show different reactivity with the Nanomaterials and are able to modify their electronic properties depending on the electronegativity of the functionalizing heteroatom. Theoretical calculations were also performed to support the experimental results. All the modified structured nanocarbons were thoroughly characterized by means of TGA Raman, XPS, UV-vis/nIR, IR and TEM techniques. Our findings propose a simple approach to functionalize Carbon Nanomaterials and, in the meantime, to tune their electronic properties.
    Nanoscale 02/2015; 7(14). DOI:10.1039/C4NR07196D · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: One important strategy to develop effective anticancer agents is based on natural products. Many active phytochemicals are in human clinical trials and have been used for a long time, alone and in association with conventional anticancer drugs, for the treatment of various types of cancers. A great number of in vitro, in vivo and clinical reports document the multi-target anticancer activities of isothiocyanates and of compounds characterized by a naphthalenetetracarboxylic diimide scaffold. In order to search for new anticancer agents with a better pharmaco-toxicological profile, we investigated hybrid compounds obtained by inserting isothiocyanate group(s) on a naphthalenetetracarboxylic diimide scaffold. Moreover, since water-soluble fullerene derivatives can cross cell membranes thus favoring the delivery of anticancer therapeutics, we explored the cytostatic and cytotoxic activity of hybrid compounds conjugated with fullerene. We studied their cytostatic and cytotoxic effects on a human T-lymphoblastoid cell line by using different flow cytometric assays. In order to better understand their pharmaco-toxicological potential, we also analyzed their genotoxicity. Our global results show that the synthesized compounds reduced significantly the viability of leukemia cells. However, the conjugation with a non-toxic vector did not increase their anticancer potential. This opens an interesting research pattern for certain fullerene properties.
    Toxins 02/2015; 7(2):535-552. DOI:10.3390/toxins7020535 · 2.48 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PCBM is a fullerene derivative (phenyl-C61-butyric acid methyl ester) considered to be one of the best n-type organic semiconductors and plays a relevant role in organic photovoltaic solar cells. Much effort has been devoted to the optimization of the synthesis of PCBM derivatives. In this paper, PC61BM and PC71BM fullerene mono-adducts but also PCBM-like derivatives are successfully prepared by a one-step cyclopropanation reaction under microwave irradiation. The products are collected in good yields in short time, during which isomerization of the open [5,6] to the closed [6,6] form takes place in situ. In addition, with the use of two cycles of irradiation, a series of mixtures of bis-adduct PCBM-like derivatives were also obtained in good yields.
    European Journal of Organic Chemistry 01/2015; 2015(7). DOI:10.1002/ejoc.201403563 · 3.15 Impact Factor
  • Maurizio Prato, Silvia Marchesan
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    ABSTRACT: The combination of the very different chemical natures of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and proteins gives rise to systems with unprecedented performance, thanks to a rich pool of very diverse chemical, electronic, catalytic and biological properties. Here we review recent advances in the field, including innovative and imaginative aspects from a nanoscale point of view. The tubular nature of CNTs allows for internal protein encapsulation, but also for their external coating by protein cages, affording bottom-up ordering of molecules in hierarchical structures. To achieve such complex systems it is imperative to master the intermolecular forces between CNTs and proteins, including geometry effects (e.g. CNT diameter and curvature) and how they translate into changes of the local environment (e.g. water entropy). The type of interaction between proteins and CNTs has important consequences for the preservation of their structure and, in turn, function. This key aspect cannot be neglected during the design of their conjugation, be it covalent, non-covalent, or based on a combination of both methods. The review concludes with a brief discussion of the very many applications intended for CNT-protein systems that go across various fields of science, from industrial biocatalysis to nanomedicine, from innovative materials to biotechnological tools in molecular biology research.
    Chemical Communications 01/2015; 51(21). DOI:10.1039/C4CC09173F · 6.72 Impact Factor
  • Biophysical Journal 01/2015; 108(2):486a. DOI:10.1016/j.bpj.2014.11.2657 · 3.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Among targeted delivery systems, platforms with nanosize dimensions, such as carbon nanomaterials (CNMs) and metal nanoparticles (NPs), have shown great potential in biomedical applications. They have received considerable interest in recent years, especially with respect to their potential utilization in the field of cancer diagnosis and therapy. The multifunctionalization of nanomaterials provides opportunities to use them as multimodal agents for theranostics, a combination of therapy and diagnosis. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are within the most widely used CNMs because of their unique structural and physico-chemical properties. Their high specific surface area allows an efficient drug loading and the possibility of functionalization with various bioactive molecules. In addition, CNMs are ideal platforms for the attachment of NPs. In the biomedical field, NPs have also shown tremendous promises in drug delivery, non-invasive tumor imaging and early detection due to their optical and magnetic properties. NP/CNM hybrids not only combine the unique properties of the NPs and CNMs, but they also exhibit new properties arising from the interactions between the two entities. In this review, the preparation of CNMs conjugated to different types of metal NPs and their applications in diagnosis, imaging, therapy, and theranostics are presented.
    British Journal of Pharmacology 10/2014; DOI:10.1111/bph.12984 · 4.99 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the science and technology roadmap (STR) for graphene, related two-dimensional (2d) crystals, and hybrid systems, targeting an evolution in technology, with impacts and benefits reaching into most areas of society. The roadmap was developed within the framework of the European Graphene Flagship and outlines the main targets and research areas as best understood at the start of this ambitious project. In this document we provide an overview of the key aspects of graphene and related materials (GRMs), ranging from fundamental research challenges to a variety of applications in a large number of sectors, highlithing the roadmap to take GRMs from a state of raw potential to a point where they might revolutionize multiple industries: from flexible, wearable and transparent electronics to high performance computing and spintronics.
    Nanoscale 09/2014; DOI:10.1039/C4NR01600A · 6.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For the first time, carbon nanohorns were implemented into solid-state electrolytes for highly efficient solid-state and quasi-solid-state DSSCs. They feature an effective catalytic behavior towards the reduction of I3- and enhance the I3- diffusivity into the electrolyte. In a final device, solar cells with 7.84% efficiency at room temperature were achieved. As a matter of fact, this is the highest reported efficiency for nanocarbon-based electrolytes up to date.
    Energy & Environmental Science 09/2014; 8(1). DOI:10.1039/C4EE02037E · 15.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) exhibit unique properties which have led to their applications in the biomedical field as novel delivery systems for diagnosis and therapy purposes. We have previously reported that the degree of functionalization of CNTs is a key factor determining their biological behaviour. The present study broadens the spectrum by investigating the impact of the diameter of CNTs using two series of multi-walled CNTs (MWNTs) with distinct differences in their diameters. Both MWNTs were doubly functionalized by 1,3-dipolar cycloaddition and amidation reactions, allowing the appended functional groups to be further conjugated with radionuclide chelating moieties and antibodies or antibody fragments. All constructs possessed comparable degree of functionalization and were characterized by thermogravimetric analysis, transmission electron microscopy, gel electrophoresis and surface plasmon resonance. The MWNT conjugates were radio-labelled with indium-111, which thereby enabled in vivo single photon emission computed tomography/computed tomography (SPECT/CT) imaging and organ biodistribution study using γ-scintigraphy. The narrow MWNTs (average diameter: 9.2 nm) demonstrated enhanced tissue affinity including non-reticular endothelial tissues compared to the wider MWNTs (average diameter: 39.5 nm). The results indicate that the higher aspect ratio of narrow MWNTs may be beneficial for their future biological applications due to higher tissue accumulation.
    Biomaterials 08/2014; 35(35). DOI:10.1016/j.biomaterials.2014.07.054 · 8.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are recognized as promising nanomaterials for technological advancement. However, the stigma of structural similarity with asbestos fibers has slowed down progress of CNTs in nanomedicine. Nevertheless, it also prompted thorough studies that have revealed that functionalized CNTs (fCNTs) can biologically behave in a very different and safer manner. Here we review pristine and fCNT fate in biological settings, focusing on the importance of protein interaction, formation of the protein corona, and modulation of immune response. The emerging consensus on the desirable fCNT properties to achieve immunological neutrality, and even biodegradation, shows great promise for CNT adoption in medicine.
    Materials Today 08/2014; 18(1). DOI:10.1016/j.mattod.2014.07.009 · 10.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Carbon Nanotube Facilitation of Myocardial Ablation. Background: The use of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) in oncology has been proposed for the purpose of sensitizing tumors to radiofrequency (RF) ablation. We hypothesize that myocardial tissue infiltrated with CNTs will improve thermal conductivity of RF heating and lead to altered ablation lesion characteristics. Methods: An ex vivo model consisting of viable bovine myocardium, a circulating saline bath at 37 degrees C, a submersible load cell, and a deflectable sheath was assembled. A 4-mm nonirrigated ablation catheter was positioned with 10 gm of force over bovine myocardium infiltrated with CNTs, 0.9% saline, or sham injections. A series of ablation lesions were delivered at 20 and 50 W, and lesion volumes were acquired by analyzing tissue sections with a digital micrometer. Tissue temperature analyses at 3 and 5 mm depths were also performed. Results: Myocardial tissue treated with CNTs resulted in significantly larger lesions at both low and high power settings. The electrical impedance was increased in CNT treated tissue with a greater impedance change observed in the CNT infiltrated myocardium. The thermal conductivity of heat generated by application of RF in the tissue was altered by the presence of CNTs, resulting in higher temperatures at 3 and 5 mm depths for both 20 and 50 W. Conclusions: Myocardial tissue treated with CNTs resulted in significantly larger lesions at both low and high power settings. The electrical and thermal conductivity of heat generated by application of RF in myocardial tissue was altered by the presence of CNTs. Further research is needed to assess the in vivo applicability for this concept of facilitated ablation with CNTs.
    Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology 08/2014; 25(12). DOI:10.1111/jce.12509 · 2.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Stimuli-responsive biomaterials have attracted significant attention in the field of polymeric implants designed as active scaffolds for on-demand drug delivery. Conventional porous scaffolds suffer from drawbacks such as molecular diffusion and material degradation, allowing in most cases only a zero-order drug release profile. The possibility of using external stimulation to trigger drug release is particularly enticing. In this paper, the fabrication of previously unreported graphene hydrogel hybrid electro-active scaffolds capable of controlled small molecule release is presented. Pristine ball-milled graphene sheets are incorporated into a three dimensional macroporous hydrogel matrix to obtain hybrid gels with enhanced mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. These electroactive scaffolds demonstrate controlled drug release in a pulsatile fashion upon the ON/OFF application of low electrical voltages, at low graphene concentrations (0.2 mg mL–1) and by maintaining their structural integrity. Moreover, the in vivo performance of these electroactive scaffolds to release drug molecules without any “resistive heating” is demonstrated. In this study, an illustration of how the heat dissipating properties of graphene can provide significant and previously unreported advantages in the design of electroresponsive hydrogels, able to maintain optimal functionality by overcoming adverse effects due to unwanted heating, is offered.
    Advanced Healthcare Materials 08/2014; 3(8). DOI:10.1002/adhm.201400016 · 4.88 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Graphing graphene: Because the naming of graphene-based materials (GBMs) has led to confusion and inconsistency, a classification approach is necessary. Three physical-chemical properties of GBMs have been defined by the GRAPHENE Flagship Project of the European Union for the unequivocal classification of these materials (see grid).
    Angewandte Chemie International Edition in English 07/2014; 53(30). DOI:10.1002/anie.201403335 · 13.45 Impact Factor
  • Angewandte Chemie 07/2014; 126(30). DOI:10.1002/ange.201403335

Publication Stats

27k Citations
3,561.50 Total Impact Points


  • 1675–2015
    • Università degli Studi di Trieste
      • • Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences
      • • Department of Life Sciences
      Trst, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy
  • 2004–2012
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      • • Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy
      • • Institute of Physics
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
    • University of Bologna
      • "Giacomo Ciamician" Department of Chemistry CHIM
      Bologna, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 2003–2011
    • French National Centre for Scientific Research
      • Institute for Molecular and Cellular Biology (IBMC)
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2010
    • University of Castilla-La Mancha
      • Departamento de Química Inorgánica, Orgánica y Bioquímica
      Ciudad Real, Castille-La Mancha, Spain
    • Consorzio Interuniversitario Nazionale per la Scienza e Tecnologia dei Materiali
      Florens, Tuscany, Italy
    • Tokyo Institute of Technology
      • Chemistry Department
      Edo, Tōkyō, Japan
  • 2001–2010
    • University of Notre Dame
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      South Bend, Indiana, United States
  • 1993–2010
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Santa Barbara, California, United States
  • 1984–2010
    • University of Padova
      • • Department of Chemical Sciences
      • • Department of Biomedical Sciences - DSB
      Padua, Veneto, Italy
  • 2009
    • The School of Pharmacy
      • School of Pharmacy
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • University of London
      • The School of Pharmacy
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2006
    • University of Patras
      • Department of Material Science
      Rhion, West Greece, Greece
  • 1992–2002
    • Università Iuav di Venezia
      Venetia, Veneto, Italy
  • 1991–1992
    • INO - Istituto Nazionale di Ottica
      Florens, Tuscany, Italy