Protein Hydrogel for Cancer Theranostics

Funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia –PROMIS program 2020-2022
Implemented by the University of Belgrade –
Faculty of Physical Chemistry

Grant no: 6062285
Duration: 10 July 2020 – 10 July 2022


  • Bringing molecular imaging to the forefront in cancer research
  • Advancing biomedical applications of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) imaging


  • Design and development of novel methodologies using EPR spectroscopy and imaging for the measurement of albumin hydrogel drug release kinetics and water content, and visualization of albumin hydrogel degradation
  • Design and development of an anticancer drug depot-anchoring albumin hydrogel prototype intended for molecular imaging of treatment response which can enter preclinical trials


Why EPR imaging?

  • Nanomolar detection limit
  • Variable sample volume
  • Experiment time and cost efficiency
  • EPR “active” compounds (spin labels & spin probes) are non-toxic and applicable in vivo
  • Real-time visualization of the hydrogel position, size and shape
  • The image contains information on the redox environment and oxygen concentration


Ana Popović Bijelić, PhD (PI), Miloš Mojović, PhD, Đura Nakarada, PhD; participated in the 1st year of project implementation: Aleksandra Pavićević, PhD  and Ana Vesković, M.Sc; participating in the 2nd year of project implementation: Maja Milojević-Rakić, PhD and Đorđe Cvjetinović, M.Sc. 
We are the only EPR team in Serbia which performs in vivo spectroscopy and imaging, and measurements at T = 4K.
Our main lines of research include: Effects of lipophilicity and terminal groups on anticancer drug activities; Liposomes as drug carriers and model membranes; PLGA nanoparticles for drug delivery; In vivo spectroscopy and imaging of oxidative status in Alzheimer’s disease and ALS; Metal content of brain tissue.


A. Vesković, Đ. Nakarada, A. Popović Bijelić, A novel methodology for hydrogel water content determination by EPR: the basis for real-time monitoring of controlled drug release and hydrogel swelling and degradation, Polymer Testing 2021,

A. Vesković, Đ. Nakarada, A. Popović Bijelić, Spin-labeled hydrogels for cell viability assessment by EPR, Redox Biology in the 21st Century: A New Scientific Discipline, SFRR-E 2021, Belgrade, Serbia, 15-18 June 2021, poster PP8.

Đ. Nakarada, A. Vesković, A. Dobrov, V. B. Arion, A. Popović Bijelić, BSA hydrogels for EPR spin-labeled anticancer drug delivery, 31st Conference of the European Society for Biomaterials (ESB2021), Porto, Portugal, 5-9 September, 2021, abstract #1170.



Malvern Zetasizer Nano ZS ZEN 3600, for the measurement of particle size and zeta potential.


Ana Popović Bijelić, PhD, associate professor
phone: +381113336871


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