prof. Koen Raemdonck (PhD)

CRIG group leader
Koen Raemdonck

Principal investigator - Lab of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines
Assistant Professor (Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, UGent)


Research focus

The therapeutic value of macromolecular drugs like nucleic acids (siRNA, mRNA,…) and proteins for cancer therapy has long been recognized. These drugs mostly require delivery into the cytoplasm of cells to be functional. Unfortunately, the cell membrane is impermeable for hydrophilic macromolecules and cellular delivery is typically facilitated by loading them into nanoparticles (nanomedicines, NM). Such particles gain access to cells via endocytosis. However, drug release from endocytic organelles remains a rare event and the internalized carrier and cargo are mainly trafficked toward lysosomes for degradation. A first major aim in our research is therefore to develop innovative strategies to stimulate cytosolic delivery of biopharmaceuticals. To reach this goal, we focus on (1) improving NM design, (2) repurposing small molecules as NM adjuvants and (3) exploiting endogenous materials for drug delivery, such as pulmonary surfactant. Importantly, in these projects we attempt to understand and exploit the fundamental (cell) biology of NM-mediated macromolecular drug delivery. Clinical translation of anti-cancer NM is additionally hampered by poor intratumoral delivery. Adoptive cell therapy is an alternative anti-cancer treatment that utilizes cytotoxic cells to infiltrate tumors and induce tumor cell cytolysis. However, many patients with solid tumors remain refractory to the treatment due to the immunosuppressive tumor environment that blunts the activity of the infiltrating cells. Here, a major aim is to design a multi-dimensional anti-cancer treatment that combines the advantages of NM and cytolytic cell therapy, while overcoming the main limitations for both. To this end, we have successfully demonstrated the covalent anchoring of NM to the surface of tumor-migrating cytotoxic T cells to enhance NM tumor accumulation. Future research will aim to assess if the surface-attached NM can be functionally transferred to immunosuppressive tumor-associated cell types.


Koen Raemdonck earned his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2009 under the supervision of Prof. Stefaan De Smedt and Prof. Jo Demeester in the lab of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy and continued his research as a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO).  He was appointed tenure track professor at the Department of Pharmaceutics, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Ghent University in 2016. His work is mainly focused on exploring novel bio-inspired approaches for delivery of macromolecular therapeutics across intra-and extracellular biological barriers. He (co-)authored several peer-reviewed publications, many of which in leading journals of the field (Nature Biotechnology, Journal of Controlled Release, Biomaterials). For his work, he received several awards including the biennial National Prize of the Belgian Society of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2011, the prize of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Belgium for scientific research in Pharmacy 2014 and the T. Nagai Postdoctoral Research Achievement award of the Controlled Release Society in 2016. Koen Raemdonck is a member of various academic societies, including the Controlled Release Society (CRS), where he is currently Board Member of the CRS BeNeLux and France Local Chapter.

Research team

  • dr. Stephan Stremersch - postdoctoral fellow
  • Thijs Van de Vyver - doctoral fellow
  • Jelter Van Hoeck - doctoral fellow
  • Bram Bogaert - doctoral fellow
  • Cristina Muntean - doctoral fellow


Key publications

  • 'Comparing exosome-like vesicles with liposomes for the functional cellular delivery of small RNAs'. J Controlled Release, 2016 (PMID: 27072025)
  • 'Hitchhiking nanoparticles: Reversible coupling of lipid-based nanoparticles to cytotoxic T lymphocytes'. Biomaterials, 2016 (PMID: 26606450)
  • 'Lessons in simplicity that should shape the future of drug delivery'. Nat Biotechnol, 2015 (PMID: 26448080)
  • 'Bio-inspired pulmonary surfactant-modified nanogels: A promising siRNA delivery system'. J Controlled Release, 2015 (PMID: 25791835)
  • 'Merging the best of both worlds: hybrid lipid-enveloped matrix nanocomposites in drug delivery'. Chem Soc Rev., 2014 (PMID: 24100581)
  • 'A personalized view on cancer immunotherapy'. Cancer Lett., 2014 (PMID: 24051308)
  • 'In vivo disassembly of IV administered siRNA matrix nanoparticles at the renal filtration barrier'. Biomaterials, 2013 (PMID: 23261216)


Contact & links