Vaccine Delivery Group

The Vaccine Delivery Group (Principal Investigator Dr. I. Lentacker; senior scientist; pharmacist) initially focused on ultrasound-based delivery of (mRNA) vaccines. This team has specialized in (i) the development of (nucleic acid loaded) microbubbles, ultrasound contrast agents and (ii) biophysical aspects of sonoporation (i.e. the poration of cellular membranes by ultrasound for intracellular delivery purposes). It is fair to say that this team is considered as one of the leading groups in the field of ultrasound assisted drug delivery. The team explored the use of microbubbles and ultrasound for mRNA transfection of dendritic cells (cancer immunotherapy). Following this initial work, immunological expertise in our group grew significantly through intense collaborations with immunology groups, strongly supported by dr. H. Dewitte who joined our lab in 2010. All these efforts have resulted in the establishment of a new research line in our group which operates at the interface of material design, drug delivery and immunology. Recently this team invented mRNA Galsomes as an mRNA cancer vaccination platform (published in 2019 in ACS Nano and Nano Today) with high expectations as it got major attention at recent top-notch mRNA conferences. Given the highly interdisciplinary nature of this research, the Vaccine Delivery Team has several collaborations with high-standing research groups in different fields like the Physics of Fluids Group from the University of Twente, the Laboratory of Cell Therapy of the Free University of Brussels, the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Erasmus MC Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Oxford Institute of Biomedical Engineering.


Ongoing and planned research for Galsomes as a vaccination platform technology. (A) The Galsome formulation will be fine-tuned using state-of-the-art ionizable lipids and microfluidic mixing to enhance safety and stability. (B) Galsomes will be produced in compliance with Good Manufacturing Processes, as a crucial step towards clinical application. (C) The synergy between Galsomes and checkpoint inhibition therapy will be further enhanced, by optimizing the Galsomes for combination therapy, e.g. by incorporating an aPD-L1 Nanobody-encoding mRNA into the Galsomes. (D) In collaboration with UZGent, a first-in-human clinical trial in stage IV non-small cell lung cancer patients is planned. (E) The application of Galsomes will be expanded beyond oncology, by exploring Galsomes for vaccination against both viral (influenza) and bacterial (M. tuberculosis) pathogens