Prof. Dr. Katrien Remaut

Katrien Remaut was born on the 10th of November 1978 in Ghent. In 2001, she graduated as Pharmacist with the greatest distinction. She then started research work in the Lab of General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy under guidance of Prof. De Smedt and Prof. Demeester. In 2007, she received the title of doctor in pharmaceutical sciences with her dissertation ‘Exploring the relation between the intracellular fate and biological activity of nucleic acid nanoparticles’ and continued research work in the lab as postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders.

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In 2009, Katrien joined the Directors Research Lab under the guidance of Prof. Ian Mattaj at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory for 6 months. Katrien is the author and co-author of several peer reviewed scientific publications in e.g., Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews, Biochemistry-US, Biomacromolecules, Biophysical Journal, Journal of Controlled Release, ASC Nano, Nanomedicine and Macromolecules. She received several scientific prizes (the scientific prize ‘Bank van Breda’ in 2001; the Highlights of student posters Award in 2003; winner of the AIO competition in 2004; Jan Feijen Poster Award in 2010 and Prize of the Royal Academy of Medicine for Scientific Research in Pharmacy, period 2008 – 2011).

In 2013, Katrien was elected as a member of the Young Academy in Flanders. She was appointed tenure track professor at the Lab General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2014. She teaches biochemistry to second year pharmacy students at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Ghent University, for which she consistently receives excellent student evaluations. Katrien is also associate editor at the European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics and editorial board member of Journal of Controlled Release.

Ocular Delivery Group

Katrien is group leader of the Ocular Delivery Group, which became highly experienced developing (and using) in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models for the evaluation of non-viral nucleic acid delivery to the retina.

Research topics

Main research interest are ocular delivery of nucleic acids like messenger RNA, siRNA and antisense oligonucleotides and the use of advanced fluorescence microscopy methods like Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy (FCS) to elucidate physicochemical properties and extracellular and intracellular barriers to non-viral nanoparticles. Importantly, this team developed an ex vivo retinal explant from bovine eyes which keeps the vitreous and inner limiting membrane (ILM) intact during dissection. Furthermore, the team has access to bovine and human eyes and can determine the mobility of nanoparticles in the vitreous of these intact eyes. This allows to evaluate the potential of intravitreally injected nanoparticles to deliver therapeutics to the retina. Current focus of the team lies in the development of non-inflammatory nanoparticles for mRNA delivery to the inner retina and the use of photoporation as light-based method to enhance the permeability of nanoparticles over the ILM. Furthermore, Katrien is also active in the nebulization of controlled release formulations to treat peritoneal carcinomatosis, where she focuses on enhancing the residence time of therapeutics in the peritoneal cavity and activating the patient’s own immune system in the fight against cancer. This team co-operates with the UZGhent University Hospital, the Department of Pharmaceutics of Utrecht University, the Institute de la vision in Paris, Max Planck Institute in Stuttgart, the Institute of Neurosciences in Montpellier, the Department of Ophthalmology from the University of Auckland and the Gene Therapy Unit of Radboud University Medical Center.

(A) Nanoparticles are optimized for ocular delivery of different types of nucleic acids. (B) To reach the inner retina after intravitreal injection, several barriers have to be overcome, namely vitreous itself, the inner limiting membrane (ILM) and the densely packed retina. The team has developed methods to follow nanoparticle mobility in vitreous using advanced microscopy (C) and a vitreoretinal explants that allows determining nanoparticle crossing over the ILM. (D) Even when retinal cells are reached, several intracellular barriers remain to be overcome. (F) In another research line, the team also uses in vivo and ex vivo nebulization to evaluate delivery of nanomedicine to the peritoneal cavity.