Light-triggered drug delivery

Lasers have found widespread application in medicine, such as for anti-cancer photothermal therapy. Gold nanoparticles (AuNPs), are often used as enhancers of the photothermal effect since they can efficiently absorb laser light and convert it into thermal energy. When absorbing intense nano- or picosecond laser pulses, AuNPs can become extremely hot and water vapor nanobubbles can emerge around these particles in tissue. These nanobubbles will expand up to several hundred nm until the thermal energy from the AuNP is consumed, after which the bubble violently collapses, causing mechanical damage to neighbouring structures. In this project, primarily funded by an ERC Consolidator Grant, the aim is to make use of the disruptive mechanical force of vapor nanobubbles to enable highly controlled and efficient delivery of macromolecules and nanoparticles in mammalian cells and microbial biofilms. Applications range from anti-cancer immuno cell therapy, over improved labelling and visualization of cells, to the treatment of chronic wound infections.

Selected key publications:

  • Teirlinck E., Xiong R., Brans T., Forier K., Fraire J., Van Acker H., Matthijs N., De Rijcke R., De Smedt S.C., Coenye T., Braeckmans K. Laser-Induced Vapour Nanobubbles Improve Drug Diffusion and Efficiency in Bacterial Biofilms. Nature Comm., DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06884-w (2018).
  • Houthaeve G., Xiong R., Robijns J., Luyckx B., Beulque Y., Brans T., Campsteijn C., Samal S., Stremersch S., De Smedt S., Braeckmans K.*, De Vos W*. Targeted Perturbation of Nuclear Envelope Integrity with Vapor Nanobubble-Mediated Photoporation. ACS Nano 12, 7791-7802 (2018).
  • Xiong R., Freya J., Liang S., De Rycke R., Lippens S., Demeester J., Skirtach A.G., Raemdonck K., Himmelreich U., De Smedt S., Braeckmans K. Cytosolic delivery of nano-labels prevents their asymmetric inheritance and enables extended quantitative in vivo cell imaging. Nano Letters 16, 5975-5986 (2016).
  • Xiong R., Samal S.K., Demeester J., Skirtach A.G., De Smedt S.C., Braeckmans K. Laser-assisted photoporation: fundamentals, technological advances and applications. Advances in Physics: X 1, 596-620 (2016).
  • Xiong R., Raemdonck K., Peynshaert K., Lentacker I., De Cock I., Demeester J., De Smedt S.C., Skirtach A.G., Braeckmans K. Comparison of gold nanoparticle mediated photoporation: vapor nanobubbles outperform direct heating for delivering macromolecules in live cells. ACS Nano 8, 6288-6296 (2014).
  • Soenen S.J., Manshian B., Montenegro J.M., Amin F., Meermann B., Thiron T., Cornelissen M., Vanhaecke F., Doak S., Parak W.J., De Smedt S., Braeckmans K. Cytotoxic Effects of Gold Nanoparticles: A Multiparametric Study. ACS Nano 6, 5767-5783 (2012).

For more information on ongoing projects, please see:
Ranhua Xiong

Laurens Raes

Gaëlle Houthaeve
Juan Fraire
Jana Ramon