Nanobiotechnology and Advanced Therapeutic Materials (NanoBioMed)

Programme
Nanotechnology and biophysics is a highly interdisciplinary research area that is applied to many different industries, including medicine at the UMCG. We utilize such advanced technologies to deliver treatments to the right place inside the body and to interact with its tissue cells in just the right way.

We employ tools and materials from nanotechnology and biophysics to fabricate powerful systems that interact with cells and tissues for drug carrier systems, implants, and sensors. Also, we study their mechanism of action. We generate structures with dimensions on the nanometer scale. These structures are composed of a diverse range of building blocks: biological or synthetic or a combination thereof while controlling the physical interactions between materials and cells.

To optimally design nano-objects to meet specific demands with respect to size, shape, physicochemical properties, and functionality, we use a multidisciplinary approach combining chemistry, physics, biology, pharmacology, materials science, medicine, and engineering.

Relevance

The right treatment, at the right time, at the right place

Through our research, we try to provide the right treatment, at the right time, at the right place. An essential part is drug delivery for the treatment of many (chronic) diseases. However, physicochemical stimulation of cells may provide the same results as pharmaceutical intervention. By utilising material interactions with tissues and cells on a more fundamental level we provide an additional dimension of treatment that synergistically works with pharmaceutical stimulations. By combining pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical approaches we maximise the therapeutic effect and minimise side effects

  • We fabricate multifunctional nanostructures to facilitate targeted delivery, imaging, and novel therapies;
  • We generate an understanding of the biophysical principles that underlie the interactions between the microenvironment and the behavior of biological systems, including the human body;
  • We investigate the key parameters involved in the interaction between nanomaterials and biological systems;
  • We study the delivery of highly potent pharmaceutical components of synthetic and biological origin for therapeutic applications;
  • We provide non-pharmaceutical solutions to cell-based problems by means of physicochemical and biophysical approaches.
  • For effective pharmacological treatments, the drug needs to arrive at the right location at the right time, while keeping its activity. Nanocarriers can be used to protect drugs against degradation and promote accumulation at the target site, following systemic administration.

    To assure that the carriers reach the right location in the body, we fine-tune their properties. For example, nanocarriers can be modified with target recognition peptides or sequences. However, the translocation of these carriers across cellular membranes and biological barriers during their transport from the bloodstream to the actual target tissue poses major challenges.

    We study the interaction between nanocarriers and biological systems, including cellular uptake mechanisms that can be both adjusted by biochemical stimulation and physical material properties. Such combined manipulations of cellular processes will optimize the drug delivery process of nanocarriers and provide new paradigm shifts in the conventional medical therapies.