ESR 08 : Roberta Guagliardo

Roberta Guagliardo received her Master’s Degree in Pharmacy (Cum Laude) at University of Siena (Italy) in December 2015. During her final Master’s year, she obtained an Erasmus scholarship for an internship at Hospital Saint Antoine (Paris, France), after which she started her undergraduate studies in Prof. Marisanna Centini’s laboratory. Her thesis was performed in collaboration with an Italian company, focusing on development and characterization of electrospun nanofibers containing skin active ingredients. In the meanwhile, she also worked at University of Siena as student tutor. After graduation, fascinated by nanomedicine, she did an Erasmus internship at the Institut Galien (University Paris Sud, France) in Prof. Patrick Couvreur’s research group, working on squalene adenosine nanoparticles and gaining experience on cell culture techniques.

She joined the Ghent Research Group on Nanomedicines (GeRN), headed by prof. Stefaan De Smedt, as Early Stage Researcher in the framework of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie, Innovative Training Networks project NANOMED.

Project topic: Colloidally stable nanogel formulations for siRNA delivery


Small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) represent a relevant tool to silence gene expression involved in a wide range of pathologies, including cancer and inflammatory diseases. Important barriers for siRNA as therapeutic molecules are their rapid degradation and clearance upon in vivo administration as well as the poor cellular delivery efficiency. Different nanocarrier platforms are being studied with the aim to overcome these limitations. The aim of this research is to design and apply a bio-inspired core-shell nanocomposite for siRNA delivery. The core will be based on biodegradable polysaccharide nanogels, which are cross-linked polymeric nanoparticles characterized by high siRNA loading capacity, biocompatibility and controlled cargo release. In spite of the mentioned beneficial features, nanogels tend to exhibit low colloidal stability. On the other hand, lipid-based nanoparticles show useful characteristics as drug delivery carriers, including their safety profile and ease of surface functionalization. Therefore, we envision hybrid lipid-polymer nanoparticles that merge the advantages of both materials in a single nanocomposite. Our research efforts will mainly focus on the use of pulmonary surfactant (PS) and PS-inspired proteolipid compositions as coating material. Finally, our aim is to investigate the potential of the PS coated nanogels for local and systemic siRNA delivery.

Home country: Italy


NanoMed partner: University of Ghent


Supervisor: Prof. Koen Raemdonck and Prof. Stefaan De Smedt


Starting date: August 1st, 2016


  • July 2016 Nanomed kick-off meeting
  • Utrecht University
  • Imperial College London