BIO- AND NANOTECHNOLOGY APPROACHES TO DRUG DELIVERY
Prof. dr. Enrico Mastrobattista
In this research program biotechnology is applied to produce lipid and protein-based drug delivery systems at the nano-scale. These bio-inspired drug delivery systems can consist of recombinant (poly)peptides that self-assemble into well-defined supramolecular structures, such as micelles, vesicles, or nanotubes or that can specifically interact with DNA to form condensed nanospheres. In addition, synthetic biological systems such as artificial microbes and viruses are being developed for vaccination and gene delivery purposes.
Recombinant and Semi-Synthetic Drug Delivery Systems
This sub-project deals with the recombinant production of de novo proteins that can be used as building blocks to construct protein- or semi-synthetic drug delivery systems. Building blocks include amphiphilic peptides that can self-assemble into nanospheres and recombinant protein polymers containing nonnatural amino acids to generate hybrid materials. Application of these bio-inspired drug delivery systems include photodynamic therapy and in situ triggered release systems.
Artificial Microbes for Vaccination
Using cell-free protein synthesis inside liposomal compartments our aim is to design artificial microbes for vaccination purposes. So far, we have demonstrated that cell-free synthesis of a model antigen from a DNA template inside liposomes results in high serum IgG titers against the in situ produced antigen when liposomes were injected i.m. in mice. We are currently investigating whether such antigen-expressing immunostimulatory liposomes (AnExILs) can also induce cellular immune responses.
Biomimetic Vectors for Gene Delivery
In this sub-project, an attempt is being made to close the gap between viral and synthetic vectors for gene delivery in terms of efficiency and safety by combining synthetic and biological components into a single gene delivery system. Both rational and high-throughput approaches will be followed to optimize and test these biomimetic vectors for their gene transducing capacity in vitro and in vivo.
Increasing the Cost-Effectiveness of Biopharmaceuticals
Biopharmaceuticals (i.e. protein and nucleic acid-based drugs) are often rather expensive and as a consequence, not all patients in need of these medicines can be treated. To increase the accessibility of this important class of medicines for patients in need we work on methods to either decrease production costs or, by applying drug delivery approaches, to increase the efficacy of existing biopharmaceuticals.