Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines

The Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines (GeRN), headed by prof. Stefaan De Smedt, focuses on the design and evaluation of nanomedicines for the advanced delivery of biotherapeutics (especially nucleic acid based drugs).


In pharmacy there is a major interest in the development of so named ‘nanomedicines’ which can be defined as well designed nanoscopic particles loaded with one (or multiple) type(s) of drugs; Thé challenge is to design the nanosized particles in such a way that, after (mucosal or parenteral) administration, they deliver their drug load in a most efficient way in target cells. Even though the medical potential of nanomedicines is regarded as tremendous by many, a large gap remains between the scientific advances in the field and their translation in patient benefit.

The Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines, in daily collaboration with the Bio-photonic Imaging Group, is involved in (especially) pre-clinical research on nanomedicines; More specifically, GeRN designs nanoscopic carriers to improve (i) targeted, (ii) intracellular delivery of nucleic acids (siRNA, µRNA, mRNA, pDNA), being a whole class of molecules which are not yet clinically used though under intensive development. Besides on the design of such delivery materials, GeRN focuses on how nanomedicines biophysically behave after administration, both in extracellular fluids (like blood, lung sputa, gastric fluids, intraperitoneal fluids,…) as well as in the intracellular environment. In the coming years, exploring the ‘delivery potential’ of nanomedicines for biotechnological drugs will remain the major research theme of our group. Emphasis will be on (i) pulmonary delivery of siRNA (aimed at the treatment of lung cancer, viral infections), (ii) intravitreal delivery of nanomedicines (retinal diseases), (iii) subcutaneous delivery of mRNA loaded nanomedines to target dendritic cells (cancer vaccination) and (iv) intraperitoneal administration of nanomedicines (cancer).