Enrico Mastrobattista


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.

People involved:

  • Jerry Lau, Vaccine Delivery Systems based on Self-Assembling Peptides
  • Charis Rousou, Ultrasound-mediated drug delivery to the retina 
  • Mohammed Aldosari, development of biosimilars and biobetters for lysosomal storage diseases

List of key publications

  1. Oude Blenke, E., van den Dikkenberg, J., van Kolck, B., Kros, A., & Mastrobattista, E. (2016). Coiled coil interactions for the targeting of liposomes for nucleic acid delivery. Nanoscale, 8(16), 8955-8965.
  2. Rad-Malekshahi, M., Visscher, K. M., Rodrigues, J. P., De Vries, R., Hennink, W. E., Baldus, M., ... & Weingarth, M. (2015). The supramolecular organization of a peptide-based nanocarrier at high molecular detail. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 137(24), 7775-7784.
  3. Oude Blenke, E., Klaasse, G., Merten, H., Plückthun, A., Mastrobattista, E., & Martin, N. I. (2015). Liposome functionalization with copper-free “click chemistry”. Journal of Controlled Release, 202, 14-20.
  4. Mastrobattista, E. & Hennink, W. E. Polymers for gene delivery: Charged for success. Nature Materials 11, 10–2 (2012).
  5. Mastrobattista, E., Van Der Aa, M. A., Hennink, W. E., & Crommelin, D. J. (2006). Artificial viruses: a nanotechnological approach to gene delivery. Nature reviews Drug discovery, 5(2), 115-121.

News from Pharmaceutical Sciences

Dalal Ghanim
Monday 7 October 2019
Pharmacy student Dalal Ghanim from Utrecht has won the Audience Award as part of the UAF Award.
Hanne Borgers
Tuesday 17 September 2019
Pharmacy student Hanne Borgers has won the NK-Consultation this year. This makes her the best pharmacist student in helping patients.
Maarten Altelaar
Thursday 12 September 2019
As of 15 September, researcher Maarten Altelaar has been appointed Professor in Pharmaceutical Proteomics.
Wednesday 11 September 2019
Utrecht researchers publish new technology for measuring protein activity in cells, which enables detection of diseases such as cancer at an early stage.
Friday 26 July 2019
Sabrina Oliveira
Thursday 25 July 2019
Oliveira was a awarded the grant for new therapy for head and neck cancer
Monday 22 July 2019
Researchers at among others Utrecht University and Universitair Ziekenhuis Leuven published an article on the process in PNAS on July, 22.
Monday 24 June 2019
The Utrecht University Award for Excellence in Pharmaceutical Research is awarded to Hans-Georg Eichler of the European Medicines Agency.
Man in pain at the gp
Wednesday 12 June 2019
The use of addictive painkillers in the Netherlands has gotten out of hand. A new consortium is going to investigate it.
Tuesday 19 March 2019
At UniStem Day, 80 high school students got acquainted to stem cell research at Utrecht University, UMCU and the Hubrech Institute.