NanoCell Biology

The Nanomedicine Lab logo.

The NanoCell Biology Team explores interactions of nanomaterials with cells focusing on deciphering their interactions with plasma membrane, cellular uptake pathways and intracellular trafficking/subcellular localisation. We develop and use simple (2D monocultures) and advanced in vitro models (co/tri-cultures and organoids) to unravel cell biological and cytotoxic profiles, as well as to tailor nanomedicine-based therapies utilising the way nanomaterials interact with cells. Dr. Sandra Vranic is the team leader, and the co-supervisor of the PhD students in the team.

NanoCell Biology Research

Reveal mechanisms of the dynamic interactions and intracellular fate of various nanomaterials

We investigate the way nanomaterials interact with simple and advanced in vitro systems using a panel of well-established protocols and techniques. We focus on combining high-resolution imaging-based tools (live cell confocal imaging, SEM and TEM) with quantitative and semi-quantitative measurements (flow cytometry, imaging flow cytometry and calculations of the dose delivered to the cells) completed by the assessment of cellular pathways involved in the uptake of nanomaterials (pharmacological inhibitors, RNA-Seq). Our final aim is to provide an accurate and complete assessment of association of nanomaterials with cells by minimizing artefacts that could arise from unique properties of nanomaterials and their potential interferences with assays. 

Development of co-cultures and organoids to study interactions with nanomaterials in multi-cellular in vitro systems

 We are developing advanced in vitro models to overcome limitations of conventional, monolayer-based cell culture systems. Our final aim is to study interactions of nanomaterials with cells and subsequent subcellular effects in an in vitro system that is comparable to physiological conditions by its cellular complexity. We focus on developing pulmonary co/tri-cultures and organoids derived from iPSCs in order to assess adverse cellular effects of 2D nanomaterials. We are also modelling glioblastoma cellular environment in the brain in order to provide in vitro platform for testing therapeutic approaches involving 2D nanomaterials. 

2D nanomaterials as delivery platforms of therapeutic agents using simple and advanced cell culture models

We investigate the therapeutic potential of 2D nanomaterials alone or complexed with a variety of therapeutic molecules (nucleic acids, proteins, peptides) in simple and advanced in vitro systems developed in the team. Our aim is to tailor the therapeutic approach according to the pattern of their interaction with cells. Our current research is focused on pre-clinical evaluations of therapeutic potential of 2D nanomaterials for the treatment of cancer and lysosomal storage disorders (Pompe and Fabry disease as well as MPS IV and VI).


Dr. Sandra Vranic

NanoCell Biology Team Leader

Dr. Rahaf Issa

Research Associate

Dr. Kelly Yingxian Chen

Research Associate

Ms. Angeliki Karakasidi

PhD Student

Mr. Emmanuel Okwelogu

PhD Student

Mr. Harry Grover

PhD Student



Nature Reviews Chemistry, 2024, in press

The challenge and necessity of biological and environmental degradation for two-dimensional materials

Sandra Vranic^, Rajendra Kurapati^, Kostas Kostarelos*, Alberto Bianco*


Nano Today, 2024, 56:102254

Functioning human lung organoids model pulmonary tissue response from carbon nanomaterial exposures

Rahaf Issa, Neus Lozano, Kostas Kostarelos, Sandra Vranic*


Nanoscale, 2024, in press []

Graphene oxide activates canonical TGFβ signalling in a human chondrocyte cell line via increased plasma membrane tension

Leona Ogene, Steven Woods, Joseph Hetmanski, Neus Lozano, Angeliki Karakasidi, Patrick T. Caswell, Kostas Kostarelos, Marco Domingos, Sandra Vranic, Susan Kimber*


ACS Nano, 2024, published online

Environmental and health impacts of graphene and other two-dimensional materials: a Graphene Flagship perspective

Hazel Lin, Tina Buerki-Thurnherr, Jasreen Kaur, Peter Wick, Marco Pelin, Aurelia Tubaro, Fabio Candotto Carniel, Mauro Tretiach, Emanuel Flahaut, Daniel Iglesias, Ester Vázquez, Giada Cellot, Laura Ballerini, Valentina Castagnola, Fabio Benfenati, Andrea Armirotti, Antoine Sallustrau, Mathilde Keck, Frédéric Taran, Cyrill Bussy, Sandra Vranic, Kostas Kostarelos, Mona Connolly, José Maria Navas, Florence Mouchet, Laury Gauthier, James Baker, Blanca Suarez-Merino, Tomi Kanerva, Maurizio Prato, Bengt Fadeel*, Alberto Bianco*


bioRxiv, 2023.03. 30.534957

Functioning human lung organoids model pulmonary tissue response from carbon nanomaterial exposures

Rahaf Issa, Neus Lozano, Kostas Kostarelos, Sandra Vranic*


Nanoscale, 2023, 15, 9348–9364

Defect-free graphene enhances enzyme delivery to fibroblasts derived from the patients with lysosomal storage disorders

Yingxian Chen, Tooba Taufiq, Niting Zeng, Neus Lozano, Angeliki Karakasidi, Heather Church, Ana Jovanovic, Simon Jones, Adyasha Panigrahi, Igor Larossa, Kostas Kostarelos, Cinzia Casiraghi, Sandra Vranic*


Nanoscale, 2022, 14 (46): 17297-17314

Graphene oxide modulates dendritic cell ability to promote T cell activation and cytokine production

Helen Parker, Alfredo Gravagnuolo, Sandra Vranic, Livia Crica, Leon Newman, Oliver Carnell, Cyrill Bussy, Rebecca Dookie, Eric Prestat, Sarah Haigh, Neus Lozano, Kostas Kostarelos*, Andrew MacDonald*


ACS Appl. Nano Mater. 2022, 5 (9): 12626–12636

Effects of lateral size, thickness, and stabilizer concentration on the cytotoxicity of defect-free graphene nanosheets: implications for biological applications

Chen-Xia Hu, Oliver Read, Yuyoung Shin, Yingxian Chen, Jingjing Wang, Matthew Boyes, Niting Zeng, Adyasha Panigrahi, Kostas Kostarelos, Igor Larrosa, Sandra Vranic*, Cinzia Casiraghi*


Nanoscale Advances, 2021, 3 (14), 4166-4185

Dynamic interactions and intracellular fate of label-free, thin graphene oxide sheets within mammalian cells: Role of lateral sheet size

Yingxian Chen, Jack Rivers-Auty, Livia Crică, Katie Barr, Vinicio Rosano, Adrian Arranz, Thomas Loret, Cyrill Bussy, David Spiller, Kostas Kostarelos*, Sandra Vranic*


Faraday Discussions, 2021, 227, 46-60

Enhanced liquid phase exfoliation of graphene in water using an insoluble bis-pyrene stabiliser

Yuyoung Shin, Xavier Just-Baringo, Matthew Boyes, Adyasha Panigrahi, Marco Zarattini, Yingxian Chen, Xinyun Liu, Gareth Morris, Eric Prestat, Kostas Kostarelos, Sandra Vranic, Igor Larrosa*, Cinzia Casiraghi*


Advanced Therapeutics, 2021, 4 (1), 2000109

Deep tissue translocation of graphene oxide sheets in human glioblastoma 3D spheroids and an orthotopic xenograft model

Irene de Lázaro, Paul Sharp, Cansu Gurcan, Ahmet Ceylan, Maria Stylianou, Thomas Kisby, Yingxian Chen, Sandra Vranic, Katharine Barr, Hadiseh Taheri, Asuman Ozen, Cyrill Bussy, Acelya Yilmazer*, Kostas Kostarelos*


Nanoscale, 2020, 12 (32), 16730-16737

Nitric oxide-dependent biodegradation of graphene oxide reduces inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract

Guotao Peng, Marcelo F. Montenegro, Chifundo N. M. Ntola, Sandra Vranic, Kostas Kostarelos, Carmen Vogt, Muhammet S. Toprak, Tianbo Duan, Klaus Leifer, Lars Bräutigam, Jon O. Lundberg, Bengt Fadeel*


Nanoscale, 2020, 12 (23), 12383-12394

Stable, concentrated, biocompatible, and defect-free graphene dispersions with positive charge

Yuyoung Shin, Sandra Vranic, Xavier Just-Baringo, Manoj Gali, Thomas Kisby, Yingxian Chen, Alexandra Gkoutzidou, Eric Prestat, David Beljonne, Igor Larrosa*, Kostas Kostarelos*, Cinzia Casiraghi*


Nanoscale Horizons, 2020, 5, 1250-1263

Graphene oxide nanosheets modulate spinal glutamatergic transmission and modify locomotor behaviour in an in vivo zebrafish model

Giada Cellot*, Sandra Vranic, Yu Young Shin, Robyn Worsley, Artur Filipe Rodrigues, Cyrill Bussy, Cinzia Casiraghi, Kostas Kostarelos, Jonathan McDearmid


Nanomedicine, 2019, 14 (24), 3127-3142

Hampering brain tumor proliferation and migration using peptide nanofiber:siPLK1/MMP2 complexes

Mariarosa Mazza, Hassan Ahmad, Marilena Hadjidemetriou, Giulia Agliardi, Omar N. Pathmanaban, Andrew T. King, Brian W. Bigger, Sandra Vranic*, Kostas Kostarelos*


Theranostics, 2019, 9 (24), 7298-7312

Thermal monitoring during photothermia: Hybrid probes for simultaneous plasmonic heating and near-infrared optical nanothermometry

Marta Quintanilla*, Isabel García, Irene de Lázaro, Rafaela García-Alvarez, Malou Henriksen-Lacey, Sandra Vranic, Kostas Kostarelos, Luis M. Liz-Marzán*


Nanoscale, 2019, 11 (29), 13863-13877

Graphene oxide as 2D Platform for complexation and intracellular delivery of siRNA

Irene de Lázaro, Sandra Vranic, Domenico Marson, Artur Filipe Rodrigues, Maurizio Buggio, ADRIAN ESTEBAN ARRANZ, Mariarosa Mazza, Paola Posocco, Kostas Kostarelos


Nano Letters, 2019, 19 (5), 2858-2870

Graphene oxide flakes tune excitatory neurotransmission in vivo by targeting hippocampal synapses

Rossana Rauti, Manuela Medelin, Leon Newman, Sandra Vranic, Giacomo Reina, Alberto Bianco, Maurizio Prato, Kostas Kostarelos*, Laura Ballerini*


ACS Nano 2018, 12 (12),11949-11962

Small, thin graphene oxide is anti-inflammatory activating nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) via metabolic reprogramming

Christopher Hoyle, Jack Rivers-Auty, Eloïse Lemarchand, Sandra Vranic, Emily Wang, Maurizio Buggio, Nancy J. Rothwell, Stuart M. Allan, Kostas Kostarelos, David Brough*


Carbon, 2018, 141, 782-793

Non-cytotoxic carbon nanocapsules synthesized via one-pot filling and end-closing of multi-walled carbon nanotubes

Markus Martincic, Sandra Vranic, Elzbieta Pach, Stefania Sandoval, Belén Ballesteros*, Kostas Kostarelos*, Gerard Tobias*


ACS Nano, 2018, 12 (2), 1373-1389

Live imaging of label-free graphene oxide reveals critical factors causing oxidative stress-mediated cellular responses

Sandra Vranic, Artur Rodrigues, Maurizio Buggio, Leon Newman, Michael White, David Spiller, Cyrill Bussy*, Kostas Kostarelos*


2D Materials, 2018, 5, 035014

Impact of graphene oxide on human placental trophoblast viability, functionality and barrier integrity

Melanie Kucki, Leonie Aengenheister, Liliane Diener, Alexandra Rippl, Sandra Vranic, Leon Newman, Ester Vazquez, Kostas Kostarelos, Peter Wick, Tina Buerki-Thurnherr*


Nature Nanotechnology, 2017, 12 (4), 343-350

Water-based and biocompatible 2D crystal inks for all-inkjet printed heterostructures

Daryl McManus , Sandra Vranic, Freddie Withers, Veronica Sanchez Romaguera, Massimo Macucci, Huafeng Yang, Roberto Sorrentino, Khaled Parvez, Seokkyun Son, Giuseppe Iannaccone, Kostas Kostarelos, Gianluca Fiori, Cinzia Casiraghi*


Methods in Molecular Biology, 2017, 1570, 287-300

High-accuracy determination of cytotoxic responses from graphene oxide exposure using imaging flow cytometry

Sandra Vranic and Kostas Kostarelos*




Professor Kostarelos founded in 2006 and is still acting as the Senior Editor the journal Nanomedicine (Future Medicine, London).

Nanomedicine was the first medicine-oriented journal in the field, addressing the important advances and challenges towards the clinical use of nanoscale-structured materials and devices.

Professor Kostarelos also sits on the Editorial Advisory Board of: