DTU Chemistry - New Center is Raising the Bar

New Center is Raising the Bar

Tuesday 29 Apr 14


Mads Hartvig Clausen
DTU Chemistry
+45 45 25 21 31


Jonas Rosager Henriksen
Head of Section, Associate Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 40 58 28 66


Esben Thormann
DTU Chemistry
+45 45 25 24 39

Audacity to go after the most intriguing scientific problems and the willingness to engage in original thought without losing sight of the stakeholders needs will be the key drivers in the new DTU Center for Nanomedicine and Theranostics, according to DTU Chemistry’s newly appointed Professor Mads H. Clausen and his colleagues.

Established in January 2012, the Center is a multidisciplinary cooperation between DTU Chemistry, DTU Nanotech, DTU Nutech and DTU Vet.

"”It is our vision that our research will result in new important technologies for the benefit of patients. The involvement of DTU Chemistry is important because it gives the Center a unique research platform to design and synthesize novel drug delivery systems and the ability to characterize the molecular interactions in such systems, which allows for rational development of new technologies,” says Thomas L. Andresen"

The Head of the DTU Center for Nanomedicine and Theranostics is Professor Thomas L. Andresen from DTU Nanotech. Within this Center he and his team will put DTU on the map as a significant international player in the research of nanomedicine.

The Center focuses on advanced biomaterial technology and drug delivery where nanoparticles are used to shuttle drugs into cells to improve drug availability in the body. Theranostics, a combination of the two words therapeutics and diagnostics, refers to such nanoscale technologies where both diagnostic and therapeutic functionalities used for drug delivery and –release are combined in one carefully designed solution.

Killing Cancer
Associate Professor Esben Thormann from DTU Chemistry arrived at the Center in June 2013 and is a fine example of the Centers multidisciplinary layout. With a background in colloid chemistry, he works with polymers and how colloid particles interact with each other and with material surfaces.

“I design responsive systems containing polymers that can be used to control drug delivery. It is not classical “cancer-cure” research, but it might be a very powerful tool in the battle against tumors,” he states.

“If I design stimuli responsive polymer particles that encapsulate a drug, and if I can get these particles to accumulate in a tumor, I can specifically target the cancer cells and minimize the side effects of traditional cancer treatment. The trick is to find a physical or chemical condition which is specific for the tumor and then design the drug carrier to respond to this condition – this can be local variations in temperature, pH, ion composition or high concentration of specific enzymes,” Esben Thormann explains.

Cancer is very much in focus at the Center, but Professor Mads H. Clausen expects that other areas will be targeted in the years to come.

“We have made a strategic decision to focus on the characteristics of biomaterials and the way they will interact with biological systems because we have unique expertise in these two areas and they are important in applications for drug delivery,” he explains.

Assistant Professor Jonas Rosager Henriksen from DTU Chemistry is also part of the Center and he holds some of the core competences in design and characterization of biomaterials, that Mads H. Clausen talks about. In recent years he has worked with design of liposome based PET tracers used for screening of the proper liposome based drugs for individual patients.

Creative Power
To Mads H. Clausen the Center is as an opportunity to meet researchers he wouldn’t meet otherwise.

“I get to work with people I wouldn’t meet if the Center didn’t exist. It inspires new ideas and a greater creativity for all of us. It is definitely helping us raise the bar”, he says.

Jonas Rosager Henriksen strongly agrees. “We have facilities and in-house competences covering everything from synthesis of new compounds, their characterization to in vitro and in vivo tests in animal models. You can’t do that in small companies and it’s difficult to organize in larger corporations. Our knowledge pool and facilities offer a huge advantage to our partners,” he explains.

But the Center is more than a platform for scientific creativity and audacious research. It is also a strong unified effort to reach out to industrial partners and future students. Visibility and accessibility are natural benefits from a one-point-entry initiative as for the DTU Center for Nanomedicine and Theranostics, and indeed this is very much a part of the Centers overall strategy:

“I have no doubt that we with this initiative strengthen our ability to attract highly talented students and researchers as well as interesting new partners,” Mads H. Clausen states.

Strong Industrial Partners
The new Center is born with strong pharmaceutical partners, but the scientists are very aware that further initiatives are necessary in the highly competitive fields of nanomedicine and theranostics. Workshops involving industrial partners showing off the centers united capabilities and exploring new opportunities are the first step on the road to a stronger profile among future stakeholders. “They like the talent and the candidates we produce, but we also need to show them the quality of our work in a broader perspective. We are actually very good at what we do, and we need to get that message across to a wide range of stakeholders in the next two or three years,” Mads H. Clausen explains.

“Within the next six months, we are fully consolidated and ready to meet the industry and other stakeholders. In five years’ time, I think we will see an energetic and creative research hub with a lot of interesting nanomedicine projects in the pipeline. We will have solid interaction with our industrial partners and a band of bright Masterand PhD students coming out. And to achieve that, we need to engage our partners and create awareness. Visibility and scientific outreach are the primary challenges in 2014,” says Professor Mads H. Clausen.

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