Oliwia Andries

Oliwia Andries profile picture


Oliwia Andries
Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy/Laboratory of Gene Therapy
Ghent University
Harelbekestraat 72
9000 Gent
Tel: 0032 9 264 8047 (secretary)
Tel: 0032 9 264 8074(direct)
Fax: 0032 9 264 8189
E-mail: Oliwia.Andries@UGent.be


Oliwia Andries studied biotechnology at the University of Life Sciences in Poznan (Poland). The last two years of her Master program she followed the courses included in the Master after Master in Medical Molecular Biotechnology at the Ghent University. During the first year of her Master, she took part in the project in the laboratory of Dr. Jenny Russinova (VIB-PSB, Zwijnaarde, Belgium) entitled: “Evaluation of core cell cycle proteins interactions with cyclins D by BiFC”. In the second year she performed her Master Thesis in the laboratory of Prof. Dr. Nico Mertens (VIB-DMBR, Zwijnaarde, Belgium) entitled: “Production of novel recombinant antibody manifolds in Pichia pastoris”. After obtaining a title of Master of Sciences (MSci) in April 2008, she joined the Laboratory of Gene Therapy and Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy in October 2008. Since October 2009 she is a pre-doctoral fellow of FWO.

Summary of Research Project(s)

The aim of her work is to evaluate non-viral and physical mRNA delivery systems for gene-based vaccination purposes. The project focuses on pulmonary vaccination as well as comparison between intradermal and intramuscular gene-based vaccination. She also investigates the molecular pathways of innate and adaptive immunity responses after mRNA vaccination.

The use of mRNA for immunotherapeutic purposes has gained much attention, especially in the last decade, as it holds many advantages over e.g. broadly used pDNA or vaccines based on proteins, polysaccharides, or inactivated pathogens [1]. The antigens expressed by genetic vaccines can be presented in a MHCI as well as a MHCII context leading to both cellular and humoral immune responses.  The main advantage of using mRNA is that it is translated in the cytosol, and hence does not have to cross the nuclear membrane, which is the biggest obstacle in non-viral DNA delivery [2]. Moreover, in contrast to pDNA, the use of mRNA excludes an important FDA safety concern, namely the risk of insertion mutagenesis. Transfection of mRNA results in a rapid and short-lived expression of the encoded protein, which is long enough to give an immunological response but not too long to cause tolerance towards the antigen. There is however  more and more evidence, that mRNA can be recognized by intracellular pathogen recognition receptors and cause innate immune reactions [3]. Too high immune response is followed by shutting down the translation system and degradation of mRNA by Protein Kinase R (PKR) and RNAse L, respectively. Inclusion of modified nucleosides in mRNA can abrogate this effect allowing longer antigen production, however without an adjuvant effect. It is hence important to design stable mRNA with powerful translation capacities and find a balance between protein production, adjuvancy and cytotoxicity.

The project is carried out in strong cooperation between Laboratory of Gene Therapy and Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy. Additionally,  a cooperation was initiated with the laboratory of Prof. Galit Alter at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, MA, USA.


[1] G. Tavernier, O. Andries, J. Demeester, N.N. Sanders, S.C. De Smedt, J. Rejman, mRNA as gene therapeutic: How to control protein expression, J Control Release, 150 (2011) 238-247.
[2] O. Andries, M. De Filette, J. Rejman, S.C. De Smedt, J. Demeester, M. Van Poucke, L. Peelman, C. Peleman, T. Lahoutte, N.N. Sanders, Comparison of the Gene Transfer Efficiency of mRNA/GL67 and pDNA/GL67 Complexes in Respiratory Cells, Mol Pharm, 9 (2012) 2136-2145
[3] O. Andries, M.D. Filette, S.C. De Smedt, J. Demeester, M.V. Poucke, L. Peelman, N.N. Sanders, Innate immune response and programmed cell death following carrier-mediated delivery of unmodified mRNA to respiratory cells, Journal of Controlled Release.

Graphical abstracts



Oliwia Andries research project1


Oliwia Andries research project2