Biological Barriers and Drug Delivery

While considering the confusing flood of drugs in the pharmacies it is hard to believe in a lack of medication. But there are still many infectious diseases and also cancer that cannot be treated sufficiently. During a medical treatment it is essential that the drug arrives at the envisaged body region. Read more about the research of the department “Biological Barriers and Drug Delivery” on techniques for the correct distribution of novel drugs. This group is located at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS).


Our Research

Although there is already a huge number of different medicines, the search for novel drug candidates is more and more an important field in pharmaceutical research. Besides a lack of existing medications against various severe diseases, the number of pathogens that are resistant to frequently used drugs is still increasing. Advances in molecular biotechnology and medicinal chemistry have led to the discovery of new drug candidates.

However, developing these molecules into actual pharmaceuticals first requires screening of their biochemical properties and their ability to cross biological barriers such as the lungs, the gastro-intestinal tract and the skin. Second, scientists have to establish new technologies to ensure the safe and effective delivery of the drug candidate to the site of action, as for example the site of infection or components of the immune system.

Therefore, the main focus of the department “Drug Delivery” is, on the one hand, on the exploration of biological barriers themselves. On the other hand, a major approach consists in developing appropriate carrier systems that are capable of crossing these barriers and deliver the active molecule to the target. Furthermore, the department expands this approach by creating new experimental models of higher sophistication and relevance for investigating the mechanisms, treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. 

In parallel, the nanotechnology platform is to be advanced and broadened in terms of formulating multifunctional nanocarriers that allow tracking of the carriers, targeting to the site of action and release of the payload in a controllable manner in both the model as well as the organism. Last but not least the carrier systems are safely biodegraded and excreted from the body.

Further Information

A current overview of the team and further information about the research group can be found on the HIPS page.

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    Six research teams have entered the second phase of the SPRIND Challenge "A Quantum Leap for New Antiviral Agents" with their approach to developing new antiviral agents. Scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research are involved in three of the funded projects. YouTuber Jacob Beautemps introduces the teams.

Audio Podcast

  • Kleine Teile – große Wirkung: Pharmazeuten des HIPS schleusen Medikamente zielsicher durch den Körper Wie kommt ein Medikament dahin, wo es wirken soll? Das ist eine der zentralen Fragen bei der Entwicklung neuer Wirkstoffe. Denn es reicht nicht, ein tolles neues Medikament gegen Darminfektionen im Reagenzglas zu haben – es muss auch dort hin gelangen, wo die Krankheit stattfindet. Mit Transportmolekülen schleusen die Pharmazeuten des HZI diese Wirkstoffe durch unseren Körper – über Barrieren, durch passende Lücken und an gefährlichen Stellen vorbei. Besuchen Sie Claus-Michael Lehr und Brigitta Loretz am Helmholtz-Institut für Pharmazeutische Forschung Saarland (HIPS)…
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