Laurens Raes

CRIG member
Laurens Raes

PhD student - Biophotonics Research Group - Laboratory of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy - Department of pharmaceutics - Ghent University
Principal investigator: Prof. Kevin Braeckmans


Research focus

Efficient and safe intracellular delivery of biological macromolecules remains one of the long-standing hurdles for fundamental biomedical research and many therapeutic applications e.g. genome-editing approaches, cellular reprogramming and ex vivo cell therapies (e.g. CAR-T cells). Current delivery technologies are associated with divergent limitations and hamper the rapid clinical translation of these therapies. A perfect delivery technology features a broad applicability to many cell types, safety and ability to transfect different types of cargo. Physical, membrane-disruption-based methods are very attractive for universal transfection in vitro and ex vivo, with typical examples such as electroporation, micro-injection, sonoporation and photoporation. 

Vapor nanobubble (VNB) photoporation has emerged as a novel, physical transfection method for biological macromolecules into target cells. The technique makes use of plasmonic nanoparticles, which absorb laser light and efficiently convert it into thermal energy. When absorbing intense nano- or picosecond laser pulses, the nanoparticles become extremely hot and water VNBs can emerge around these particles. A VNB will expand up to several hundred nm until the thermal energy from the nanoparticle is consumed, after which the bubble violently collapses, causing mechanical damage to neighboring structures. The disruptive mechanical force of these VNBs could be used for target cell-specific and high-throughput intracellular delivery of biological macromolecules. In this research, we investigate the use of VNB photoporation for efficient protein and mRNA delivery for a variety of applications.  



Laurens graduated as a Master of Science in Biochemistry and Biotechnology with great distinction (Faculty of Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium). He choose Biochemistry and Structural biology as major and his master’s dissertation, entitled ‘Development of monomeric FLT3 ligand to dissect wildtype and oncogenic FLT3 complexes’, was performed at the Unit for Structural Biology, VIB IRC, Ghent.
In August 2016, he started his PhD research project at the Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutics.

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