Koen Raemdonck

Koen Raemdonck


Koen Raemdonck
Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy
Ghent University
Harelbekestraat 72
9000 Gent
Tel: 0032 9 2648047 (secretary)
Tel: 0032 9 264 8078 (direct)
Fax: 0032 9 2648189
E-mail: koen.raemdonck@UGent.be


Koen Raemdonck obtained his Master’s degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2004 at Ghent University with great distinction. In the same year he became a doctoral fellow of the Institute for the Promotion of Innovation through Science and Technology in Flanders (IWT). He initiated his PhD research at the Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy under the supervision of Prof. Stefaan De Smedt and Prof. Jo Demeester. His doctoral research was mainly focused on the application of nanogels for the controlled intracellular delivery of small interfering RNA (siRNA) for which he earned the title of doctor in pharmaceutical sciences in 2009. Since 2010, Koen Raemdonck is a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation-Flanders (FWO). For his work, he received the biennial National Prize of the Belgian Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011 and the Prize of the Royal Academy of Medicine for Scientific Research in Pharmacy in 2014.

Summary of Research Project(s)

Since its discovery in 1998, RNA interference (RNAi) has evolved towards a powerful technique to induce sequence-specific gene silencing on the post-transcriptional level. Small non-coding RNAs such as microRNA (miRNA) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) have been shown to activate the RNAi pathway, which makes them attractive therapeutic candidates to reduce the expression of disease-related proteins. A general prerequisite for the induction of therapeutic gene silencing is the effective delivery of the aforementioned small RNA therapeutics into the cytosol of the target cell, where the RNAi machinery is located. To this end, siRNAs typically require formulation into lipid-or polymer-based nanoparticles (i.e. nanomedicines).  In recent years, many (pre-)clinical trials involving siRNA loaded nanoparticles (siNPs) in distinct pathologies have been initiated and have demonstrated promising results. However, in parallel also many substantial hurdles have been identified that significantly delay the clinical translation of RNAi-based therapeutic strategies. One of the most prominent hurdles remains safe and effective in vivo delivery of the small RNA drugs, given that many extra-and intracellular barriers need to be overcome to reach the intracellular site-of-action (Figure 1). The research of Dr. Raemdonck therefore explores distinct strategies beyond the state-of-the-art to improve the cellular delivery of small RNA therapeutics. Although the field of RNAi therapeutics has been dominated by fluctuating trends since its inception, from a drug delivery perspective the major unresolved challenge remains to reconcile both safe and effective drug delivery. Therefore, the particular emphasis in our research activities on advanced drug delivery will be placed on three main anchors, i.e. BIO-inspired, BIO-performant and BIO-compatible delivery technologies.

Several research projects have been initiated to address some of the outstanding research questions and challenges described above:

1.    Tumoritropic cells as carriers for small RNA nanomedicines: PhD project Laura Wayteck
2.    Exploring extracellular vesicles for biomedical applications: PhD project Stephan Stremersch
3.    Optimizing siRNA delivery for pulmonary applications: PhD project Lynn De Backer
4.    Optimizing nanotoxicity screening methodologies: PhD project Freya Joris

Koen Raemdonck