Kevin Braeckmans - INTRACYTE

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Kevin Braeckmans obtained a Licentiate degree in Physics in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2004 both at Ghent University (Belgium). Following 4 years of post-doctoral research, he was appointed as professor at Ghent University in 2008 where he is currently leading the Bio-Photonics Research Group, which is hosted by the Lab. of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy (director: prof. Stefaan De Smedt; co-director: prof. K. Braeckmans). From 2015-2020 he was guest professor at the University of Lille, France.

The Lab. of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy focuses primarily on advanced drug delivery, which is the science of delivering various types of drug molecules to their target site in cells, tissues and in the body. In particular the lab focuses on the development of micro- and nanomaterials as well as physical technologies to accomplish this goal. Within this context, the Biophotonics Research Group specializes in the development of biophotonics technologies to (1) study the biophysical behavior of nanomedicines in cells and tissues and (2) enable more efficient drug delivery. The INTRACYTE project fits into this second line of research, which became the group’s primary focus in recent years thanks to an ERC Consolidator Grant (NANOBUBBLE) that was awarded in 2015.

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Delivering macromolecular compounds into living cells in vitro or ex vivo is a common requirement for both fundamental biological research as well as biomedical applications. Examples include the intracellular delivery of gene editing molecules to unravel molecular pathways or to create engineered therapeutic cells. Photoporation, which combines laser irradiation with light-sensitive nanomaterials, is an upcoming physical intracellular delivery technology for delivery of a variety of molecules into a broad range of cell types with high delivery efficiency, low cytotoxicity, single cell precision and minimal hands-on time. After several years of research on photoporation, the INTRACYTE project is aimed at translating this technology for R&D as well as clinical applications connected to cell-based therapies. This includes further development of nanomaterials and instrumentation next to setting up international collaborations with key opinion leaders in various application areas. At the end of the project the aim is to have a clear view on the valorization opportunities for photoporation as a next generation transfection technology.