We develop nanomedicine to enhance drug efficacy and reduce side effects in order to achieve optimal treatment outcome.

Many drugs are unstable in the human body causing quick loss of activity and the need for high dosing and repeated administration. Moreover, drugs can produce side effects, such as liver toxicity or hair loss as commonly observed with chemotherapy. The encapsulation of drugs in nanoparticles (i.e., nanomedicine) may help to improve drug stability, and reduce side effects. The targeting of nanomedicine to diseased tissue without harming healthy tissue is considered the Holy Grail of drug delivery.

Upon their administration in the human body nanomedicine encounter several barriers. For example, drug delivery to the brain is greatly hampered by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). Our main aim is to design nanoparticles that can circumvent biological barriers. To this end, we investigate the interaction of nanoparticles with cells, tissues and organisms. In our work we use physiologically relevant cell models, including (patient-specific) BBB models and 3D tumor cell models. We are a multidisciplinary team and we collaborate with chemists, bioengineers, (cell) biologists and clinicians. Our goal is to improve patient diagnosis and (personalized) treatment.  


How our research benefits to society

We discovered a peptide that mediates the transport of nanocarriers across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. Currently, we develop brain-targeted biodegradable nanocarriers loaded with therapeutic molecules for treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Glioblastoma. To facilitate the clinical translation of our work we collaborate with clinicians.

Our work comprises:

  • Synthesis and characterization of lipid-based, polymer-based, and biological nanoparticles
  • Development of cell models that mimic in vivo barriers to targeted drug delivery with nanomedicine
  • Development of assays to visualize and quantify cellular uptake of nanoparticles and drug release in cells, using a.o. confocal microscopy and live cell imaging
  • Determination of structure-function relationships of nanoparticles
  • Production of nanoparticles that cross the blood-brain barrier
  • Production of nanoparticles for delivery of biologicals (proteins, peptides, DNA, RNA, lipids)
  • Production of nanoparticles for delivery of anti-cancer agents, including chemotherapeutics


Small profile photo of I.S. Zuhorn
Inge Zuhorn Full professor

Targeted Drug Delivery with Nanomedicine group
Internal postcode FB40
A. Deusinglaan 1
9713 AV  Groningen
The Netherlands

Visiting address
Targeted Drug Delivery with Nanomedicine group
A. Deusinglaan 1
9713 AV Groningen
The Netherlands