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Flavonoids, polyphenolic biomolecules with antioxidative activity, have recently emerged as potential novel therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to the fact that the mechanisms of their antioxidant effects have not yet been fully elucidated, their applicability is rendered by poor water solubility and chemical instability under physiological conditions encountered during pharmaceutical product consumption. Flavonoid incorporation in nanoparticles (NPs) as carriers has been proposed as possible solution to surpass these obstacles. However, various organic and inorganic NPs used for flavonoid delivery possess a number of problems including low loading capacity, increased release duration, high toxicity and accumulation in the body.

Therefore, the aim of the proposed NanoFlavNeuroProtect project is to overcome the problem of poor water solubility and chemical instability of flavonoids by delivering them loaded in biodegradable mesoporous NPs to model membranes and neurons whereby their protective effects should be enhanced. In order to confirm usefulness of this approach, interactions between NPs and cells, in particular, membrane-NP interactions will be determined since they are of crucial importance both for cell uptake and nanotoxicity. By applying combination of complementary experimental techniques not yet fully exploited in the field of molecular nanobiotechnology, this project will ultimately generate detailed knowledge about the effects of the size, shape, charge and hydrophobicity of NPs loaded with flavonoids on model membranes and neurons, especially under oxidative stress conditions. Specific information not only about how the structural and nanomechanical properties of model and neuronal membranes change, but also about the change within the cytoplasm will be provided. Results from the studies proposed within NanoFlavoNeuroProtect will pave the way towards development of inovative and improved therapies for oxidative stress-associated neurological disorders. In addition, the knowledge obtained within NanoFlavNeuroProtect could be extended to designing effective delivery systems for the incorporation, protection and release of other unstable bioactive molecules with an aim to improve human health or to increase the shelf life of pharmaceutical or food products.