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  • Drug delivery
  • Nanoparticle encapsulation
  • Bioimaging
  • Tissue engineering
  • Biosensors
  • Biomimicry
  • Bioconjugation
  • Antibodies
  • Protein assembly
  • Dynamics
  • Modelling and structure
  • Protein and nucleic acid nanotechnology
  • Organelles and membranes
  • Biomaterials
  • Biofilms
  • Nanotoxicology
  • Nanoethics

Revolutionising diagnosis and treatment of diseases

The field of Nanomedicine holds the potential to revolutionize diagnosis and treatment of numerous diseases. At iNANO, research within Nanomedicine encompasses internationally recognized strongholds including rational design of drugs and biomimetics, drug delivery and bioimaging, stem cell and tissue engineering, biosensors, anti-biofouling, big data and omics technologies. Fundamental for this development has been a number of enabling technologies led and perfected by iNANO researchers: Structure determination and modelling of biomolecules (X-ray, SAXS, Cryo-TEM, NMR, AFM, MD) and synthesis of bioactive molecules and complexes (solid state structures, nucleic acid-, protein-, lipid- and polymer- synthesis, bioconjugation). Many iNANO groups have close collaborations with medical research groups and industries (e.g. Novo Nordisk, Lundbeck, Novozymes, Dupont, and Coloplast) allowing for translation of scientific discoveries into patents and products.

The activities within this research area involves five overall topics: structure determination; synthesis of drugs, biologics and biomimetics; drug delivery and bioimaging; stem cell control and tissue engineering; biosensors. Read more about the activities below.

Further down you can find the group leaders involved in this research area.

Structure determination

The strength of iNANO lies in a multidisciplinary approach using a wide range of biophysical analysis and modeling tools to describe biological processes. High-resolution membrane protein structures have been studied by X-ray crystallography and cryo-TEM (Nissen), antimicrobial peptides, fibrillar proteins, lipids, protein-lipid interactions by NMR spectroscopy (Mulder, Vosegaard), and protein fibrils, polymers, DNA and RNA nanostructures by AFM (Dong). Molecular Dynamics (MD) simulations have been used to study enzyme action, dynamics of membrane proteins/peptides and lipids in the cellular membrane and interactions of ligands with cellular receptors (Schiøtt). Another focus has been to study stability and dynamics of pathologically important proteins in terms of aggregation, denaturation and protein-surfactant interactions using SAXS and other biophysical methods (Otzen, Petersen).

Synthesis of drugs, biologics and biomimetics

INANO researchers have developed new innovative methods for chemical and enzymatic bioconjugation of protein (e.g. antibodies, nanobodies), sugars and lipids with nucleic acids (Gothelf, Kjems). The latter has served to create multivalent or multifunctional drugs with improved pharmacokinetic, targeting and therapeutic efficacy and for improved bioimaging. To tune pharmacokinetics, drugs have been conjugated to engineered recombinant human albumins to control circulation33 (Howard). At a more fundamental level, novel catalysts capable of forming C-C bonds for drug synthesis have been developed within CADIAC. 

Drug delivery and bioimaging

Targeted delivery of drugs and imaging reagents is studied with a special focus on cancer, atherosclerosis, inflammation, neurodegeneration and infectious diseases. Multiple strategies have been applied: Site-specific activation of macromolecular prodrugs by disease specific signals or by implantable biomaterials (Zelikin); encapsulated antibiotics to target biofilm (Meyer); therapeutic proteins, siRNA, DNA or CRISPR/Cas complexes in engineered nanoparticles for targeted delivery to diseased tissue or organs, including mucosal delivery systems in the intestine, lung, liver, kidney and brain (Howard). For diagnostic purposes, delivery systems have also been engineered to target diseased cells with optical dyes, magnetic nanoparticles for MRI and radioisotopes for PET imaging (Kjems). In addition, more fundamental studies to understand the interplay between biomaterials and living organisms have been conducted, including the protein “corona” formed around nanoparticles in the blood (Sutherland) and how our innate immune system distinguishes foreign from self at the nanoscale (Vorup-Jensen). 

Stem cell control and tissue engineering

The understanding of how stem cells are instructed to develop into various types of tissue is of fundamental importance for tissue engineering. Solid state materials with topographical or biomolecular features at the micro- and nanometer scale that can control stem cell renewal and differentiation have been developed (Foss, Sutherland), and small regulatory non-coding RNAs that upon delivery can steer stem cell differentiation in bone regeneration or enhance nerve outgrowth in a 3D-printed scaffold have been identified (Kjems). Another focus has been on coating orthopedic materials to create sustained release of ions from coatings for improved implant-bone ingrowth or long-term stable non-fouling coatings for, e.g. sensor or in vivo applications such as catheters (Foss). Finally, responsive materials, including self-healing hydrogels, underwater adhesives, and adaptive photonic materials that may be used to glue skin in connection with surgery have been developed (H. Birkedal).


A key focus for several iNANO groups is the development of novel biosensors that are highly sensitive to pathological conditions, thereby enabling early diagnosis or evaluation of treatment efficacy. A particular focus has been to develop point-of-care technology for quantification of small molecule drugs in blood. As examples, it has been demonstrated that DNA nanostructures can monitor the enzymatic activity from pathogens such as malaria parasites and tuberculosis bacteria (Knudsen) and ultrasensitive small molecule detectors based on DNA nanodevices have been created (Gothelf); both systems that have led to spin-off companies. Electrochemical devices for diagnosis of cancer and neurodegeneration from blood samples based on aptamer-functionalized electrodes (Ferapontova) and plasmonic sensors for detection of molecules (Sutherland) have been created. Aptamers are also the key recognition molecule in a novel set of fluorescent biosensors (Andersen).    

Group leaders within Nanomedicine

Agarwala, Shweta


Biodegradable Electronic Materials, Printed and Flexible Electronics, Bioelectronics, Nanoelectronic Devices, Healthcare and point-of-care devices

Andersen, Ebbe Sloth


Biomolecular design, Biomolecular nanotechnology, Biomolecular robotics, Cryo-electron microscopy, Drug delivery, Biosensor development, Selection for molecular function, Metabolic engineering, Systems biology, Synthetic biology

Birkedal, Henrik


Biological materials, Bioinspired materials, Synchrotrons and neutrons, Crystallography, Synchrotron imaging, Multimodal (diffraction/scattering/fluorescence) X-ray tomography, Bone, Hydrogels, Responsive materials, Self-organization, Coacervates

Chen, Menglin


Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, Electrohydrodynamics, Nanofibers

Dong, Mingdong


Atomic Force Microscopy, Nanodevices, Size-dependent properties, Low Dimensional materials, Nanomechanics, Electronic materials, Surface Science, Functional Nanomaterals.

Ferapontova, Elena


Bioelectronics, Antifouling Surfaces, Electrocatalysis, Bioelectrocatalysis, Electroenzymatic Biotransformation, Biofuel Cells, Bioelectronic Sensing, Long-Range Electron Transfer, Biomedical Diagnostic Devices, Environmental Monitoring Sensors.

Foss, Morten


Biomedical Surfaces, Implants, Non-Fouling Coatings, Large-Scale Screening, Micro- and Nanofabrication.

Gothelf, Kurt Vesterager


DNA, DNA origami, Organic Synthesis, Self-Assembly, Bioconjugation, Biosensors , Multi-functional drug design, Oligonucleotide analogue.

Hayashi, Yaya


Zebrafish, Bioimaging, Electron microscopy,Genetic engineering, Bioinformatics, Extracellular vesicles, Protein coronas, Nucleic acid nanotechnology, Immunology, Nanotoxicology

Howard, Ken


Biomolecular Assemblies, Protein Engineering, Cancer Immunotherapies, Drug Delivery, Nanomedicine, Surface Engineering, Polymers, RNA Interference, Inflammatory Diseases, Antibody optimisation, Nanoencapsulation.

Kjems, Jørgen


Non-Coding RNA, RNA Interference, Tissue Engineering, Drug Delivery, Bioimaging, Aptamers, Tissue Engineering, Stem cell therapy Tissue Engineering , Stem cell niches, Engineered exosomes for drug delivery and cell signaling, Designed immuno recognition, Bioconjugation of molecules and cells, Artificial tasting, Food biosensors, Encapsulation of food ingredients.

Knudsen, Birgitta R.


DNA nanoparticles, DNA based biosensors, Detection of pathogenic microbes, Targeted treatment of infectious diseases.

Meyer, Rikke Louise


Biofilms, Bacterial Adhesion,, Single-Cell Interactions,, Antimicrobial Compounds,, Antifouling Surfaces, Receptor-ligand interactions, Adhesive biomolecules, Antimicrobial formulations for food preservation.

Mulder, Frans


NMR Spectroscopy, Biophysics, Protein Dynamics, Protein Electrostatics, Structural Biology.

Nielsen, Niels Christian


Coming soon

Nissen, Poul


Membrane Proteins, Transporters, Crystallography, Structural Biology, Drug Discover.

Nygaard, Jens Vinge


Biomechanics, Biomaterials, Materials and Tissue Engineering.

Otzen, Daniel


Protein-Fatty Acid Complexes, Membrane Protein Folding, Protein-(bio)surfactant complexes, Molecular basis of functional and pathological protein self-assembly and aggregation, Stability and dynamics of membrane proteins, Biophysics of protein-surfactant interactions, Cryophilic enzymes, Novel uses for plant proteins and small metabolites, Self-assembly of functional amyloid.

Pedersen, Jan Skov


Synchtron small-angle X-ray scattering, Block copolymer self-assembly, Block copolymer coacervate micelles, Morphological changes in complex mixtures of surfactants, Protein Aggregation, Functional and Pathological Amyloid, Protein-Fatty Acid Complexes, Protein-Surfactant/Biosurfactant Interactions, Molecular Self-Assembly, Modification and stabilisation of enzymes, Milk proteins and protein-fatty acids complexes.

Schiøtt, Birgit


Molecular Dynamics Simulation, Protein Modelling, Protein-Lipid Interactions, Amyloid Diseases, Lipid Membranes.

Skrydstrup, Troels


Homogeneous Catalysis, Carbon Dioxide Conversion, Carbonylation Reactions, Reactor design, Gaseous Reagents, Carbon isotope-labeling.

Städler, Brigitte


Artificial Cells/Organelles/Enzyme, Droplet Microfluidics, Liposomes, Poly(Dopamine), Self-Propelled Swimmers/microbots, Polymer/Lipid hybrid nanoparticles, Mucopenetrating nanoparticles, Mucoadhesive polymers, Phenylketonuria, Hepatology, Formulations, Biosensors.

Sutherland, Duncan


NanoopticsPlasmonics, Optical metamaterials, Chirooptical materials, Thermal management materials, Biomaterials, Bio and chemical sensors, Protein coronas, Biointerfaces, Nanotoxicology, Cell Instructive Materials, Bacterial adhesion, Plasmons, 2D Materials, Stem Cells, Non-Fouling Surfaces, Astringency, Extra Cellular Matrix, Cell Adhesion Molecule.

Ulstrup, Søren


Condensed matter physics, Quantum and nanoscale materials and devices, Electronic structure, In operando nanoscale photoemission spectroscopy, Time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, Synchrotron radiation, Two-dimensional materials, Van der Waals heterostructures, Twistronics, Graphene, Transition metal dichalcogenides

Viennet, Thibault


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Post-Translational Modifications, Intrinsically Disordered Regions, Protein Dynamics, Protein-Protein Interactions, Phosphorylation, Transcription Factors, Kinases

Vorup-Jensen, Thomas


Immunology, Autoimmune Diseases, Biophysics, Structural Biology, Nanoscience.

Vosegaard, Thomas


Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectroscopy, Structure and Dynamics of Insoluble Proteins, Protein-Lipid Interactions, NMR Method Development, Materials characterisation, NMR rheology, Structural biology, Antimicrobial peptides, Lipids, Lipidomics.

Weidner, Tobias


Surface spectroscopy, Femtosecond Spectroscopy, Protein Structure, Biomimetic Design, Surface Modification, Membrane Proteins, Ultrafast Molecular Motion, Interfacial Water

Westberg, Michael


Protein Engineering, Computational Protein Design, Directed Evolution, Photoactive Proteins, Optogenetics, Chemogenetics, Light microscopy and spectroscopy, Chemical and Synthetic Biology, Biophysical Chemistry, Photochemistry and Photophysics

Zelikin, Alexander


Polymers, Hydrogels, Prodrugs, Antiviral Therapy, Enzyme Prodrug Therapy, Nanozymes, Artificial receptors.