The Master’s specialisation in BioTherapeutics offers research-orientated education into the development of new therapeutic approaches to treat immune-based disorders, such as atherosclerosis, metabolic disorders and inflammatory skin diseases. Focus is on state-of-the-art therapies using novel biologicals, such as tolerogenic vaccines, therapeutic proteins and peptides, and gene therapy.
The two divisions of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research involved in the Master’s specialisation BioTherapeutics are:
Division of Drug Delivery Technology: The mission of the Division of Drug Delivery Technology is to provide new strategies for the delivery of biologically active compounds at the right dose, at the right time and at the right place. In order to achieve this, novel drug delivery systems are designed and the interactions of these delivery systems with biological systems are investigated at the (sub) cellular, tissue and organism level, both in vitro and in vivo. Research activities are organized in two major, interrelated research lines: “Skin Research” and ”Biologics Research”.
Research on Biologics focuses on vaccine delivery and the improvement of vaccine formulations (often nanoparticles) in order to elicit the desired immune response. Besides conventional immunization via the needle, in recent years the attention has shifted towards designing formulations for non-invasive (e.g. dermal and mucosal) delivery routes, such as microneedles.
In addition research activities are also focused on inflammatory skin diseases to relate skin inflammation with impaired skin barrier function aiming to develop novel therapies for skin barrier repair. The activities require not only a solid biological background for studying the interactions of delivery systems with biological systems, such as skin barrier, but also extensive biophysical expertise for designing stable and well-characterized formulations and for examining the barrier function of the skin. The Division performs translational research, covering preclinical studies in in vitro model systems and in animal models, and clinical studies in healthy humans or patients.
Division of BioPharmaceutics: The focus of the Division of BioPharmaceutics is on the development of experimental therapeutic approaches to treat cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, the main underlying pathology of cardiovascular disease. Basic research of the Division of Biopharmaceutics is focused on identifying pathways that underlie the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis. This is performed at various levels, from gene expression analysis and immuno-phenotyping to an in-depth analysis of lipid metabolism. Identification of detailed pathways during all stages of atherosclerosis has revealed a number of “drugable” targets that can be used to correct innate and adaptive immune responses and may lead to stabilization or even regression of atherosclerosis. Interventions developed so far range from bone marrow transplantation, adoptive transfer of immune cells, and intervention by the use of biologicals, including experimental therapies using antibody-based interventions, therapeutic vaccines, and gene therapeutic approaches.