Published: 09-12-2020 12:47 | Updated: 09-12-2020 12:48

ERC grant for research on synthetic nanoparticles

Samir El Andaloussi
Samir El Andaloussi Photo: Ulf Sirborn

Samir El Andaloussi, researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine, has been awarded the 2020 European Research Council Consolidator Grant for the project “Release of engineered Extracellular vesicles for delivery of Biotherapeutics”.

“I’m so very proud to have been selected from a competitive field of leading European research as the recipient of this extremely prestigious award. It would not have been possible without my awesome research team. I’d like to thank everyone I work and have worked with. The award is our collective success,” says Samir El Andaloussi, researcher at the Department of Laboratory Medicine.

About the ERC Consolidator Grant

The ERC Consolidator Grant is awarded to an outstanding researcher with seven to twelve years’ postdoc experience who presents very promising scientific results. The maximum possible grant is EUR 2.5 million per project for up to five years.

In this ERC Consolidator project, the researchers propose a platform development using synthetic nanocarriers to transiently engineer hepatic cells in vivo and harness extracellular vesicles to functionally deliver drugs to unreachable organs, focusing on the brain. Genetic constructs will be developed that allow for transient in situ engineering of cells in vivo and release of cargo-laden extracellular vesicles for further delivery. The same strategy will be exploited using nanoparticles injected locally in brain to secrete extracellular vesicles loaded with the disease-relevant protein GBA1 as a treatment strategy for Parkinson’s disease. Long-term this novel project has enormous potential, as any engineered extracellular vesicles could be produced in situ.

“Thanks to this grant, I’ll now be able to test an idea that comes with considerable risk – the project can fail, but if it succeeds, the benefits will be enormous. The project is also costly to carry out as it involves a lot of work on preclinical genetic mouse models. The grant will enable me, hopefully, to take my research to the next level. What I need to do now is employ two or three doctoral students or postdocs with relevant knowledge to do the project.”

The project was also awarded the Swedish Research Council Consolidator Grant of SEK 12 million, which will be returned on the awarding of the ERC grant.