Department of Nanomedicines and Theranostics

 

Our Department

Marek Weiler ath chemical hood. Copyright: Peter Winandy

Nanomedicines are 1-100(0) nm-sized carrier materials designed to improve the biodistribution and the target site accumulation of systemically administered (chemo-) therapeutic drugs. By delivering drugs more specifically to pathological sites, and by preventing them from accumulating in potentially endangered healthy tissues, nanomedicines are able to improve the balance between the efficacy and the toxicity of systemic drug therapies.Efforts in the Dept. of Nanomedicine and Theranostics, which is part of the Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging at RWTH Aachen University, focus on the use of nanomedicine formulations for treating cancer and inflammatory disorders. In close collaboration with several universities (Utrecht, Twente, Maastricht) and companies in The Netherlands, with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, and with a number of colleagues at RWTH Aachen University, various different types of drug delivery systems are being evaluated, including e.g. liposomes, polymers and micelles. These carrier materials are loaded with chemotherapeutic agents and with corticosteroids, as well as with imaging agents. The resulting ‘theranostic’ nanomedicines, which contain both diagnostic and therapeutic properties within a single formulation, are considered to be useful for individualizing and improving treatments, enabling image-guided drug delivery to tumors, to metastases, to inflammatory lesions (e.g. arthritis, colitis, atherosclerosis, liver and kidney fibrosis), and to the brain. In addition, such theranostics concepts and constructs can be employed for non-invasive and quantitative efficacy monitoring, as well as for image-guided tissue engineering.Projects at the Nanomedicine and Theranostics group are coordinated by Prof. Twan Lammers, and are performed in close collaboration with the other four working groups at the Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging. Because of this, we are able to cover almost all aspects of nanomedicine and drug delivery research. These e.g. include the chemical procedures and the pharmaceutical technologies necessary to produce, load and label nanomedicines; the use of state-of-the-art in vivo and ex vivo imaging techniques; and access to advanced animal models. Moreover, efforts in our group profit from the shared intention of the institute’s PIs to deeply understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer and inflammatory disorders, related e.g. to angiogenesis, inflammation, macrophage infiltration and macrophage polarization. As somewhat smaller side projects, we also work on multi-drug resistance, on sonoporation, on nanotoxicity testing, and on theranostic tissue engineering.Our work is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), by the European research Council (ERC) and by the European Commission (EC). In addition, several group members have managed to obtain own internal funding (RWTH) or individual scholarships, provided e.g. by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).