Cancer nanomedicine

joão conde

João Conde

Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor




NOVA Medical School
Faculdade de Ciências Médicas
Universidade Nova de Lisboa
Rua Câmara Pestana, Edifício CEDOC II
1150-082 Lisboa


Phone: +351 218 803 112



In the last years, we developed several smart platforms to tackle cancer from all sides. From the development of nanoparticles and scaffolds able to overcome drug resistance by detecting and silencing a specific multidrug resistance protein (Conde et al. PNAS 2015) to gene-, chemo-, photo- and immuno-therapy nanoparticles able to target and inhibit, with outstanding efficiencies, the progression of breast (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016; Avital & Conde et al. Nature Communications 2016), gastric (Bao & Conde et al. Scientific Reports 2015), lung (Conde et al. Advanced Functional Materials 2015; Conde et al. Nanoscale 2015) or colon cancer (Conde et al. J. Controlled Release 2014; Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016). The development of these novel and essential tools in Nanomedicine lead to the creation of smart platforms that promote cancer regression and increased survival. It is in this paradigm that our group is focused.

Research areas


The molecular pathways that determine the effectiveness of anti-tumour response following a specific therapy are poorly understood. The development of a rational treatment strategy following a comprehensive scrutiny of the tumour microenvironment and host response to different therapeutic modalities is of utmost importance.


Multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells is a substantial limitation to the success of chemotherapy. We have shown that smart biomaterials were able to sense and differentially react with the disease microenvironment, by detecting the expression of specific genes related with multidrug resistance sensing (Conde et al. PNAS 2015), potentiating targeted drug release as well as gene therapy (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2015) in certain disease settings. It is now crucial to realize that cancer cells need to lose their chemo-protective features mediated by multidrug resistance genes, at the same time the chemotherapy-sensitive non-cancerous cells need to be protected from the effects of chemotherapeutic agents. With this idea in mind we will develop smart biomaterials for gene/drug delivery to eliminate cancer multidrug resistance.


The lack of standardized means to efficiently deliver therapeutic cargo to metastatic sites calls for a waking-up call on the way we prevent and treat metastasis. It is crucial to leverage the potential of nanomedicine to differentially combat cancer spread at each stage of the disease. We will focus on how to implement new strategies to treat cancer as a function of disease type and state, while leveraging the advancement in materials design and in particular nanotechnology: (1) primary tumor re-programming to prevent metastasis (Avital & Conde et al. Nature Communications 2016); and (2) combination (local and systemic) therapy when metastasis has already transpired.


Taken one step-forward, we optimized and developed smart combination platforms able to achieve complete tumor resection when applied to non-resected tumors and to the absence of tumor recurrence when applied following tumor resection (Conde et al. Nature Materials 2016). It is now imperative to learn how advances in nanosystem’s capabilities are being used to identify new therapy tools driving the development of Personalized Medicine in different cancer types and disease states and recognize how to translate Nanotechnology data and patients-derived Intel into an effective clinical strategy.

Running as PI / Co-PI:

ERC 2019 Starting Grant, European Research Council: 848325 — GelGeneCircuit: Cancer heterogeneity and therapy profiling using bioresponsive nanohydrogels for the delivery of multicolor logic genetic circuits.

Running as Collaborator

Albumedix Ltd. – Recombinant albumin conjugates for cancer therapy (2018-2020).

SuprHApolymers – Engineering self-assembly of hyaluronan-based glycopolymers with peptides (2016).

NOF Corporation – Characterization of PEG-based hydrogels (2014-2015).

NANOTRUCK- Multifunctional gold nanoparticles for gene therapy. EU, ERANET-NanoSciera+ (2012-2014).

Silence is golden (siAu) – Silencing the silencers via multifunctional gold nanoconjugates towards cancer therapy. FFCT/FCT/UNL, PTDC/BBB-NAN/1812/2012.

Nanosystems for delivery of caged compounds. FFCT/FCT/UNL, PTDC/QUI-QUI/ 112597/2009.

Sensitive and selective detection of DNA/RNA based on functionalized gold nanoparticles – application to pathogen detection; mutation detection and RNA quantification. FFCT/FCT/UNL, PTDC/BIO/66514/2006.

More than 60 articles in high impact journals in fields of Nanomedicine, Cancer Therapy, Materials Science and Nanotechnology (Nature Materials IF38.7, Nature Nanotechnology IF31.5, Nature Communications IF12.1, PNAS IF9.4, Accounts of Chemical Research IF21.7, Progress in Materials Science IF31.6, ACS Nano IF14.6, Advanced Materials IF27.4, Advanced Functional Materials IF16.8, JACS IF14.7, Angewandte Chemie IF12.9, Biomaterials IF10.3, Journal of Controlled Release IF7.9, Biosensors & Bioelectronics IF10.2, Trends in Biotechnology IF14.3, Nature Asia Materials IF8.1, Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews IF15.6).

More than 30 articles as 1st author, and more than 20 articles as corresponding author and cited more than 4200 times (h-index 35). Eight of them have been selected as cover page of journals such as Adv. Functional Materials, JACS, Angewandte Chemie, Adv. Healthcare Materials, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry and BioTechniques.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals (selected):

“Nanotechnology-based disinfectants and sensors for SARS-CoV-2” S. Talebian, G.G. Wallace, A. Schroeder, F. Stellacci and João Conde*. Nature Nanotechnology (2020) COVID-19 Special Issue

“Above and beyond Cancer Therapy: translating biomaterials into clinics” João Conde* Trends in Cancer (2020).

“Tetrazine carbon nanotubes for pretargeted in vivo ‘click-to-release’ bioorthogonal imaging” (VIP paper) H. Li, João Conde, A. Guerreiro, G.J.L. Bernardes. Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2020). Featured on COVER

“Platinum-triggered Bond-cleavage of Pentynoyl amide and N-propargyl handles for Drug-Activation” B.L. Oliveira, B.J. Stenton, Unnikrishnan V.B., C.R. Almeida, João Conde, M. Negrão, F.S.S. Schneider, C. Cordeiro, M.G. Ferreira, G.F. Caramori, J.B Domingos, R. Fior and G.J.L. Bernardes. Journal of the American Chemical Society (2020). Featured on COVER
“Prolonged Local In Vivo Delivery of Stimuli‐Responsive Nanogels That Rapidly Release Doxorubicin in Triple‐Negative Breast Cancer Cells”. Y. Zhang, P. Dosta, João Conde, N. Oliva, M. Wang and N. Artzi. Advanced Healthcare Materials (2020).

“Oral pH sensitive GNS@ab Nanoprobes for targeted therapy of Helicobacter Pylori without disturbance gut microbiome” X. Zhi, Y. Liu, L. Lin, M. Yang, L. Zhang, L. Zhang, Y. Liu, G. Alfranca, L. Ma, Q. Zhang, H. Fu, João Conde, X. Di, J. Ni, J. Song, D. Cui. Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine (2019).

“Biopolymers for anti-tumor implantable drug delivery systems: Recent advances and future outlook”. S. Talebian, S. Wadeb, J. Foroughi, K. L. Vineb, A. Dolatshahi-pirouz, M. Mehrali, João Conde, G. Wallace. Advanced Materials (2018)

“Ferritin nanocarrier traverses the blood brain barrier and kills glioma”. K. Fan, X. Jia, M. Zhou, João Conde, J. He, J. Tian, X. Yan. ACS Nano (2018)

“Designing Hydrogels for On-Demand Therapy” N. Oliva, João Conde, K. Wang and N. Artzi. Accounts of Chemical Research (2017).

“Smart NIR linear and nonlinear optical nanomaterials for cancer theranostics: Prospects in photomedicine”. T-M. Liu, João Conde*, T. Lipiński, A. Bednarkiewicz and C-C. Huang. Progress in Materials Science (2017).

“Local triple-combination therapy results in tumour regression and prevents recurrence in a colon cancer model”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, Y. Zhang and N. Artzi. Nature Materials (2016). Highlighted in Science Translational Medicine and Science Bulletin. Highlighted in Science Translational Medicine.

“Local microRNA delivery targets Palladin and prevents metastatic breast cancer”. A. Gilam, João Conde, D. Weissglas-Volkov, N. Oliva, N. Artzi, N. Shomron. Nature Communications (2016).

“Self-assembled RNA-triple-helix hydrogel scaffold for microRNA modulation in the tumour microenvironment”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, M. Atilano, H.S. Song, N. Artzi. Nature Materials (2016). Highlighted in Science Translational Medicine.

“Dual-Color Emissive Upconversion Nanocapsules for Differential Cancer Bioimaging in vivo”. O.S. Kwon, H.S. Song, João Conde, H. Kim, N. Artzi and J.H. Kim. ACS Nano (2016).

“Revisiting the ‘one material fits all’ rule for cancer nanotherapy”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, N. Artzi*. Trends in Biotechnology (2016).

“Gold Nanostars for real-time intracellular and in vivo SERS detection combined with drug delivery via plasmonic-tunable Raman/FTIR imaging”. F. Tian, João Conde*, C. Bao, Y. Chen, J. Curtin and D. Cui. Biomaterials (2016).

“Chiral Antioxidant-based Gold Nanoclusters Reprogram DNA Epigenetic Patterns”. Y. Ma, H. Fu, C. Zhang, S. Cheng, J. Gao, Z. Wang, W. Jin, João Conde* and D. Cui. Scientific Reports (2016).

“Revisiting the classification of NIR absorbing/emitting Nanomaterials for in vivo bio-applications”. T-M. Liu, João Conde*, T. Lipinski, A. Bednarkiewicz, C-C. Huang. Nature Asia Materials (2016).

“3D hydrogel scaffold doped with 2D materials for biosensors and bioelectronics”. H.S. Song, O.S. Kwon, João Conde* and N. Artzi. Biosensors & Bioelectronics (2016).

“Implantable hydrogel embedded dark-gold nanoswitch as a theranostics probe to sense and overcome cancer multidrug resistance”. João Conde*, N. Oliva, N. Artzi. PNAS (2015). Highlighted in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery.

“Dual targeted immunotherapy via in vivo delivery of bio-hybrid RNAi-peptide nanoparticles to tumour-associated macrophages and cancer cells”. João Conde*, C. Bao, Y. Tan, D. Cui, E.R. Edelman, H.S. Azevedo, H.J. Byrne, N. Artzi, F. Tian. Advanced Functional Materials (2015). VIP paper featured on the Front Cover.

“RNAi nanomaterials targeting immune cells as an anti-tumor therapy: the missing link in cancer treatment? João Conde*, C. Arnold, F. Tian and N. Artzi. Materials Today (2015).

“Bioresponsive antisense DNA gold nanobeacons as a hybrid in vivo theranostics platform for the inhibition of cancer cells and metastasis”. C. Bao, João Conde*, J. Curtin, N. Artzi, F. Tian, D. Cui. Scientific Reports (2015).

“15 years on siRNA delivery: beyond the State-of-the-Art on inorganic nanoparticles for RNAi therapeutics”. João Conde*, A. Ambrosone, Y. Hernandez, F. Tian, M. McCully, C.C. Berry, P.V. Baptista, C. Tortiglione, J.M. de la Fuente. Nano Today (2015).

“The next generation of smart gold nanobeacons: nanotheranostics is ready for prime-time”. João Conde* and N. Artzi. Nanomedicine (Lond.) (2015).

“Are RNAi and miRNA therapeutics truly dead?”. João Conde, N. Artzi. Trends Biotechnology (2015).

“Target-Responsive DNA/RNA nanomaterials for microRNA sensing and inhibition: the jack-of-all-trades in cancer nanotheranostics?”. João Conde*, E.R. Edelman, N. Artzi. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews (2015).

“RNAi-based glyconanoparticles trigger apoptotic pathways for in vitro and in vivo enhanced cancer-cell killing”. João Conde, F. Tian, Y. Hernandez, C. Bao, P.V. Baptista, D. Cui, T. Stoëger and J.M. de la Fuente. Nanoscale (2015).

“Antibody-Drug gold nanoantennas with Raman spectroscopic fingerprints for in vivo tumour theranostics.” João Conde*, C. Bao, D. Cui, P. Baptista, F. Tian. Journal of Controlled Release (2014).

“In vivo tumour targeting via nanoparticle-mediated therapeutic siRNA coupled to inflammatory response in lung cancer mouse models.” João Conde, F. Tian, Y. Hernández, C. Bao, D. Cui, K.P. Janssene, M.R. Ibarra, P.V. Baptista, T. Stoëger and J.M. de la Fuente. Biomaterials (2013).

“Gold-Nanobeacons for simultaneous gene specific silencing and intracellular tracking of the silencing events.” João Conde, J. Rosa, J.M. de la Fuente and P.V. Baptista. Biomaterials (2013).

“Design of Multifunctional Gold Nanoparticles for in vitro and in vivo Gene Silencing.” João Conde, A. Ambrosone, V. Sanz, Y. Hernández, V. Marchesano, F. Tian, H. Child, C.C. Berry, M.R. Ibarra, P.V. Baptista, C. Tortiglione and J.M. de la Fuente. ACS Nano (2012).

For complete list of publications please check

Books and Book Chapters:

“Handbook of Nanomaterials for Cancer Theranostics” 1st Edition, Editor: João Conde, Elsevier, 2018.

“Displaying biofunctionality on materials through templated self-assembly”, K. Shuturminska, C. O’Malley, D. W. P. Collis, João Conde, H. S. Azevedo, in Self-Assembling Biomaterials: Molecular Design, Characterization and Application in Biology and Medicine, Elsevier, 2018.

“Empowering the potential of cell-penetrating peptides for targeted intracellular delivery via molecular self-assembly”, Y. Shi, João Conde, H. S. Azevedo, in Peptides and Peptide-based Biomaterials and their Biomedical Applications, Eds. A. Sunna, A. Care, P. Bergquist, Sringer International Publishing AG, Cham.

“Multifunctional Gold Nanocarriers for Cancer Theranostics – From bench to bedside and back again?” João Conde*, F. Tian, P.V. Baptista., J.M. de la Fuente. in Nano-Oncologicals: New Targeting and Delivery Approaches (2014), Springer Science+Business Media. Controlled Release Society.

“RNA Quantification Using Noble Metal Nanoprobes: Simultaneous Identification of Several Different mRNA Targets Using Colour Multiplexing and Application to Cancer Diagnostics.” João Conde, G. Doria, J.M. de la Fuente and P.V. Baptista*. Nanoparticles in Biology and Medicine: Methods and Protocols Series (2012). Humana Press, Springer Protocols.


Theranostic Nanoprobes for Overcoming Cancer Multidrug Resistance and Methods. U.S. Application No. 62/118101. MIT Case No. 17685K, MIT Docket No. 17685.117921.

RNA Triple Helix Structures, Compositions, and Methods. U.S. Application No. 62/216969. MIT Case No. 18323 PCT, MIT Docket No. 17648-0205.

Hydrogel particles, compositions, and methods. U.S. Application No. 62/339434.

Micro-RNA delivery compositions, devices, and methods. U.S. Application No. 62/353622.

Functionalized nanoparticles and compositions for cancer treatment and methods. U.S. Application No. 62/334538.

TRPV2 Antagonists. WO Application No. PCT/PT2018/050035.


2017 – Wellcome Image Awards 2017: Wellcome Trust, UK.

2016 – Nano-Micro Letters Researcher Award, Nature Research Society.

2016 – National Cancer Institute Image award: Cancer close up, USA.


  • i3S – Instituto de Investigação e Inovação em Saúde
  • INEB – Institute of Biomedical Engineering
  • Universidade do Porto
  • Universidade de Coimbra
  • Instituto de Medicina Molecular
  • Faculdade de Farmácia de Lisboa
  • Fundação Champalimaud



  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)
  • Yale University (US)
  • Harvard Medical School (US)
  • Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard (US)
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital (US)
  • University of Pennsylvania (US)
  • Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University (Israel)
  • Johns Hopkins University (US)
  • Case Western Reserve University (US)
  • University of Wollongong (Australia)
  • University of Cambridge (UK)
  • University of Oxford (UK)
  • University Hospital Düsseldorf (Germany)
  • Dublin Institute of Technology (Ireland)
  • Shanghai JiaoTong University (China)