Alejandro Baeza, PhD




Organic Chemistry Applied to Nanomedicine: For a Rational Design of Novel Therapies.

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The use of nanoparticles as drug carriers for antitumoral therapy has attracted a huge interest in the recent years. This interest is mainly based on the enlightening discovery by Maeda and Marsamura in the mid 80´s who reported that  nanoparticles tend to be speciffically  accumulated in  tumors in comparison with healthy tissues. This effect has been called EPR effect (Enhanced Permeation and Retention effect) constituting the archstone of the use of nanoparticles in oncology. The basics of this effect is explained by the own tumor nature. The rapid growth of the tumoral mass require large amount of nutrients and oxygen. Thus, tumoral cells kidnap the nearby healthy cells forcing them to secrete angiogenic factors. These angiogenic factors induce the rapid vascularization of the tumoral tissue sustaining the development of the malignancy. However, the novel vessels are not suitable built but they are highly irregular and aberrant, presenting pores and fenestration with diameters up to few hundreds nanometers. When the nanoparticles are injected in the blood stream and reach the tumoral zone, they are able to pass through these pores being accumulated within the diseased zone (Enhanced Permeation). On other hand, the continued growth of the tumoral cells compress and collapse the lymphatic vessels which are in charge of the elimination of waste products and foregin bodies. As a consequence of this, the extravasated nanoparticles remain in the tumor during longer times (Enhanced Retention). Therefore, the fact to encapsulate cytotoxic drugs within nanoparticles could achieve a significant therapeutic improvement due to the targeting effect provided by the nanocarrier itself.


The discover of EPR effect bloomed out the creation of a great number of nanodevices able to transport cytotoxic drugs in a more controlled and selective manner. My research lines is focused in this field but my motivation is to introduce the organic chemistry methods in order to achieve a better control in the dose administration and an enhanced selectivity against tumoral cells. Therefore, two main research areas are being developed:


Stimuli-Responsive Therapeutic Nanosystems: The main goal of this line is the development of novel stimuli-responsive drug delivery nanocarriers for antitumoral therapy based on inorganic and organic nanomaterials able to transport therapeutic species (from big macromolecules to small drugs) specifically to the inner intracellular space of tumoral cells. These smart nanocarriers are carefully engineered in order to achieve zero premature drug release before reaching the diseased tissue, and to release  these therapeutic agents on demand once the system is located inside the target cell. 


Development of novel targeting agents: The aim of this  research line is to synthesize and evaluate novel targeting agents against specific tumoral cell lines. This research line pretends to discover completely novel targeting agents different to the previously reported in the scientific literature in order to improve the selectivity of the nanodevices against the target pathology.


I am fascinated by the extremely high capacity of nanotechnology to improve our life quality, not only in the creation of novel and more efficient therapies but also in other applications. For this reason, inspired by the visionary movie Fantastic Voayage, I am working also in the synthesis of more sophisticated Nanorobots or Nanomachines able to perform useful task such as to perform autonomous motion and cargo capture and release. These pioneer nanorobots could be very useful for the implementation of more efficient drug delivery devices, decontamination systems, Lab-on-chip clinical diagnosis or self-repaired machines, being the future devices which could make our life more easy and fruitful. 





"The applications of Nanotech are only limited by our poor imagination"