Stimulus-responsive particles for nanomedicine
Supervisor: prof.dr.ir. J.C.M. van Hest (Jan)
Nanomedicine is regarded as one of the most promising developments to improve the efficacy of a wide range of biomedical activities, such as drug delivery and vaccination. For this purpose, nanoparticles need to be constructed with tailor-made size, shape and surface functionality. Furthermore, they should be able to adapt their properties in response to their biological environment. We have recently developed polypeptide-based particles based on elastin that can assemble and disassemble based on changes in pH and temperature. Furthermore, we have constructed polymer vesicles and micelles out of biodegradable polyesters of which the shape can be effectively varied in tubes and discs by tuning the assembly process. Both types of particles are surface modified with targeting ligands that allow cell-specific interaction and uptake, for example with cells from the immune system or tumor cells.
In this BEP students will construct the polymer building blocks, either via protein engineering or polymer chemistry, and investigate the assembly process. They will study how the particle properties depend on environmental changes such as pH and temperature. The particles will then be post-modified via chemical biology techniques. Finally, the interaction of the particles with cells will be studied. By the end of this BEP the students will have developed synthetic skills, have experience with supramolecular chemistry and have performed particle-cell interaction studies. During this project, they have come in contact with a number of characterization methods, such as NMR, GPC, mass spectrometry, particle analysis tools and confocal microscopy.