prof. Daniela Wilson
prof. Daniela Wilson

ERC Proof of Concept grant for research on one-step activation of nanocarriers for targeted drug delivery

Professor Daniela Wilson, head of the Systems Chemistry department within the Institute for Molecules and Materials (IMM) of Radboud University, has been awarded an ERC Proof of Concept (PoC) grant for research on one-step activation for targeted drug delivery.

“There is a pressing need for precise drug delivery systems capable of delivering anticancer agents selectively to cancer cells while minimizing harmful side effects. Unfortunately, attaching targeting ligands to nanocarriers faces challenges such as tedious conditions, low efficiency, and limited control over ligand orientation. These issues compromise targeting performance and are thought to be the reason behind the current absence of targeted drug delivery systems in the market.

We have recently uncovered an innovative approach to functionalize nanocarriers that is both simple and efficient, providing mild conditions and additional control over ligand orientation. Using this method, we aim to develop biologically relevant targeting ligands in a scalable platform that allows a 'mix-and-match' strategy for the one-step activation of drug delivery nanocarriers.

Mix and Match: One-step activation for targeted drug delivery

Current drug delivery systems like liposomes, PEGylated liposomes, and polymeric micelles rely mainly on passive accumulation in tumors due to vessel defects. However, their effectiveness in targeting cancer cells is limited. Attaching targeting ligands to nanocarriers improves binding affinity and cellular uptake, but existing attachment methods have drawbacks. In this project, Wilson will study a "mix and match strategy" using anchor molecules with biological relevant moieties to attach to PEGylated drug delivery systems. This approach aims to provide a simple, efficient, and mild attachment method, potentially revolutionizing drug delivery, diagnostics, and nanotechnology. It could enhance targeted therapies, diagnostics, and minimize systemic toxicity, making some treatments more accessible and more economical. 

Systems chemistry and nanomedicine 
Daniela Wilson is Professor in Systems Chemistry. The research group is part of the IMM and finds its inspiration in natural materials and processes. The group aims to develop synthetic tools, materials and systems to investigate emerging functions of self-assembled complex structures. The next significant challenge the group is addressing is the molecular design of autonomous systems inspired by natural systems that not only can move directionally at nanometer scale by harvesting different sources of energy but also can sense its environment and adapt to its changes. The ultimate goal is to design functional supramolecular structures and apply them in nanomedicine. 

ERC Proof of Concept 
The ERC Proof of Concept grants aim at facilitating exploration of the commercial and social innovation potential of ERC funded research, by funding further work (i.e. activities which were not scheduled to be funded by the original ERC frontier research grant) to verify the innovation potential of ideas arising from ERC funded projects. 

We warmly congratulate Daniela with her grant!

prof. Daniela Wilson

Contact information

For more information, please contact
Daniela Wilson: d.wilson [at] (d[dot]wilson[at]science[dot]ru[dot]nl)
IMM Communications: imm-communication [at]