Nanomedicine and Theranostics

Nanomedicines are 1-100(0) nm-sized carrier materials designed to improve the biodistribution and the target site accumulation of systemically administered (chemo-) therapeutic drugs. By delivering drugs more specifically to pathological sites, and by preventing them from accumulating in potentially endangered healthy tissues, nanomedicines are able to improve the balance between the efficacy and the toxicity of systemic drug therapies.Efforts in the Dept. of Nanomedicine and Theranostics, which is part of the Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging at RWTH Aachen University, focus on the use of nanomedicine formulations for treating cancer and inflammatory disorders. In close collaboration with several universities (Utrecht, Twente, Maastricht) and companies in The Netherlands, with the Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, and with a number of colleagues at RWTH Aachen University, various different types of drug delivery systems are being evaluated, including e.g. liposomes, polymers and micelles. These carrier materials are loaded with chemotherapeutic agents and with corticosteroids, as well as with imaging agents. The resulting ‘theranostic’ nanomedicines, which contain both diagnostic and therapeutic properties within a single formulation, are considered to be useful for individualizing and improving treatments, enabling image-guided drug delivery to tumors, to metastases, to inflammatory lesions (e.g. arthritis, colitis, atherosclerosis, liver and kidney fibrosis), and to the brain. In addition, such theranostics concepts and constructs can be employed for non-invasive and quantitative efficacy monitoring, as well as for image-guided tissue engineering.Projects at the Nanomedicine and Theranostics group are coordinated by Prof. Twan Lammers, and are performed in close collaboration with the other four working groups at the Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging. Because of this, we are able to cover almost all aspects of nanomedicine and drug delivery research. These e.g. include the chemical procedures and the pharmaceutical technologies necessary to produce, load and label nanomedicines; the use of state-of-the-art in vivo and ex vivo imaging techniques; and access to advanced animal models. Moreover, efforts in our group profit from the shared intention of the institute’s PIs to deeply understand the underlying mechanisms of cancer and inflammatory disorders, related e.g. to angiogenesis, inflammation, macrophage infiltration and macrophage polarization. As somewhat smaller side projects, we also work on multi-drug resistance, on sonoporation, on nanotoxicity testing, and on theranostic tissue engineering.Our work is supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), by the European research Council (ERC) and by the European Commission (EC). In addition, several group members have managed to obtain own internal funding (RWTH) or individual scholarships, provided e.g. by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Univ.- Prof.
Dr. Dr. T. Lammers

Selected publications

Research Papers:

  1. May J, Golombek SK, Baues M, Dasgupta A, Drude N, Rix A, Rommel D, von Stillfried S, Appold L, Pola R, Pechar M, van Bloois L, Storm G, Kuehne AJC, Gremse F, Theek B, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Multimodal and multiscale optical imaging of nanomedicine delivery across the blood-brain barrier upon sonopermeation. Theranostics. 2020;10(4):1948‑59.

  1. Dadfar SM, Camozzi D, Darguzyte M, Roemhild K, Varvarà P, Metselaar J, Banala S, Straub M, Güvener N, Engelmann U, Slabu I, Buhl M, van Leusen J, Kögerler P, Hermanns-Sachweh B, Schulz V, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Size-isolation of superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles improves MRI, MPI and hyperthermia performance. Journal of Nanobiotechnology. 2020;18(1).

  1. Baues M, Klinkhammer BM, Ehling J, Gremse F, van Zandvoort MA, Reutelingsperger CP, Daniel C, Amann K, Bábíčková J, Kiessling F, Floege J, Lammers T, and Boor P. A collagen-binding protein enables molecular imaging of kidney fibrosis in vivo. Kidney International. 2020;97(3):609‑14.

  1. Moss JI, Barjat H, Emmas S, Strittmatter N, Maynard J, Goodwin RJA, Storm G, Lammers T, Puri S, Ashford MB, and Barry ST. High-resolution 3D visualization of nanomedicine distribution in tumors. Theranostics. 2020;10(2):880‑97.

  1. Shi C, Kim T, Steiger S, Mulay SR, Klinkhammer BM, Bäuerle T, Melica ME, Romagnani P, Möckel D, Baues M, Yang L, Brouns SL, Heemskerk JWM, Braun A, Lammers T, Boor P, and Anders H. Crystal Clots as Therapeutic Target in Cholesterol Crystal Embolism. Circulation Research. 2020;126(8).

  1. Ergen C, Niemietz PM, Heymann F, Baues M, Gremse F, Pola R, van Bloois L, Storm G, Kiessling F, Trautwein C, Luedde T, Lammers T, and Tacke F. Liver fibrosis affects the targeting properties of drug delivery systems to macrophage subsets in vivo. Biomaterials. 2019;206:49‑60.

  1. Sadeghi N, Kok RJ, Bos C, Zandvliet M, Geerts WJC, Storm G, Moonen CTW, Lammers T, and Deckers R. Hyperthermia-triggered release of hypoxic cell radiosensitizers from temperature-sensitive liposomes improves radiotherapy efficacy in vitro. Nanotechnology. 2019;30(26).

  1. Bartneck M, Schrammen PL, Möckel D, Govaere O, Liepelt A, Krenkel O, Ergen C, McCain MV, Eulberg D, Luedde T, Trautwein C, Kiessling F, Reeves H, Lammers T, and Tacke F. The CCR2+ Macrophage Subset Promotes Pathogenic Angiogenesis for Tumor Vascularization in Fibrotic Livers. Cellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2019;7(2):371‑90.

  1. Heinrich MA, Bansal R, Lammers T, Zhang YS, Michel Schiffelers R, and Prakash J. 3D‐Bioprinted Mini‐Brain: A Glioblastoma Model to Study Cellular Interactions and Therapeutics. Advanced Materials. 2019;31(14).

  1. Sun Q, Baues M, Klinkhammer BM, Ehling J, Djudjaj S, Drude NI, Daniel C, Amann K, Kramann R, Kim H, Saez-Rodriguez J, Weiskirchen R, Onthank DC, Botnar RM, Kiessling F, Floege J, Lammers T, and Boor P. Elastin imaging enables noninvasive staging and treatment monitoring of kidney fibrosis. Science Translational Medicine. 2019;11(486).


  1. Dadfar SM, Roemhild K, Drude NI, von Stillfried S, Knüchel R, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Iron oxide nanoparticles: Diagnostic, therapeutic and theranostic applications. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2019;138:302‑25.

  1. Sun Q, Barz M, De Geest BG, Diken M, Hennink WE, Kiessling F, Lammers T, and Shi Y. Nanomedicine and macroscale materials in immuno-oncology. Chemical Society Reviews. 2019;48(1):351‑81.

  1. Golombek SK, May J, Theek B, Appold L, Drude N, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Tumor targeting via EPR: Strategies to enhance patient responses. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2018;130:17‑38.

  1. Hare JI, Lammers T, Ashford MB, Puri S, Storm G, and Barry ST. Challenges and strategies in anti-cancer nanomedicine development: An industry perspective. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews. 2017;108:25‑38.

  1. Kunjachan S, Ehling J, Storm G, Kiessling F, and Lammers T. Noninvasive Imaging of Nanomedicines and Nanotheranostics: Principles, Progress, and Prospects. Chemical Reviews. 2015;115(19):10907‑37.


  1. Metselaar JM, and Lammers T. Challenges in nanomedicine clinical translation. Drug Delivery and Translational Research. 2020;10(3):721‑5.

  1. Lammers T, and Ferrari M. The success of nanomedicine. Nano Today. 2020;31.

  1. Shi Y, and Lammers T. Combining Nanomedicine and Immunotherapy. Accounts of Chemical Research. 2019;52(6):1543‑54.

  1. Lammers T, and Storm G. Setting standards to promote progress in bio–nano science. Nature Nanotechnology. 2019;14(7):626.

  1. van der Meel R, Sulheim E, Shi Y, Kiessling F, Mulder WJM, and Lammers T. Smart cancer nanomedicine. Nature Nanotechnology. 2019;14(11):1007‑17.

Group members

Dr. Josbart Metselaar

Josbert (Bart) (PhD in Pharmaceutics, Utrecht University, 2004) started the company Enceladus Pharmaceuticals in 2004. With the help of grants, investments and non-equity funding, he managed to perform a series of preclinical and clinical trials focusing on three different liposomal nanomedicine products. Since 2012, he has worked as a part-time assistant professor at the University of Twente. In 2015, he also took up a group leader position at RWTH Aachen, to extend his work on the development of nanomedicines for the treatment of inflammatory disorders and cancer.

Dr. J. Metselaar

Dr. Patrick Koczera

Patrick obtained his M.D. at RWTH University in 2013. He joined EXMI in 2011 for his doctoral thesis in the field of BBB disruption by sonoporation. By receiving the Rotationsstipendium of the Medical Faculty of RWTH Aachen University, he was given the opportunity to return to ExMI, to work on the translation of nanomedical drug formulations for sepsis therapy. This work will be combined with his residency at the Klinik für Operative Intensivmedizin und Intermediate Care and the Klinik für Anästhesiologie.

Dr. P. Koczera

Dr. Sandra Schipper

Sandra obtained her PhD (Maastricht University) in the field of Neurology focusing on the pharmaceutical treatment of cognitive co-morbidities in epilepsy in 2016. After that she worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Urology at Maastricht University Medical Centre. In 2017, she joined the Department of Nanomedicine and Theranostics for the development of a novel method to apply neuromodulation, via the use of nanoparticles, after receiving a prestigious NWO Rubicon grant from the Dutch Government. Her research is performed in close collaboration with the Department of General, Visceral and Transplantation Surgery (Academic Hospital Aachen, Prof. Dr. Neumann). Being trained as a medical Doctor (M.D.) and clinical researcher (M.Sc.), Sandra focuses on inter-disciplinary and translational research.

Dr. S. Schipper

Dr. Yang Shi

Yang obtained a PhD in pharmaceutics from Utrecht University in 2014. Afterwards, he worked as an Associate Professor at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou. Since 2016, he has been appointed as a Group Leader at The Institute for Experimental Molecular Imaging (ExMI) at RWTH Aachen University Hospital and at the Helmholtz Institute for Biomedical Engineering. His research focuses on synthetic polymers for image-guided drug delivery. His research activities include design and synthesis of amphiphilic block copolymers self-assembling into core-shell nanoparticles, which are loaded with hydrophobic therapeutic agents, and are labeled with diagnostic agents to enable in vivo visualization.

Dr. Y. Shi

Dr. Lorena Consolino

Lorena obtained her PhD at University of Torino (Italy) in Pharmaceutical and Biomolecular Sciences in 2017. She joined ExMI in 2019 as post-doctoral researcher granted by the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC) fellowship. Her research aims to evaluate the efficacy of anti-metastatic drugs upon the modulation of tumor microenvironment and fibrosis in breast cancer. Her activity includes different imaging approaches (MRI,CT, FMT, BLT) to characterize the primary tumors, the metastasis formation and the remodeling of tumor microenvironment following the administration of innovative nanotherapeutic strategies.

Dr. L. Consolino

Dr. Quim Peña

Quim obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) and the Aix-Marseille Université (France) in 2019, focused on the design and synthesis of metal drugs as potential selective chemotherapeutics. He joined ExMI in 2020 as a postdoctoral researcher. His research deals with the loading of metal drugs into diverse drug delivery systems to improve treatment selectivity and decrease side-effects associated to this type of compounds. He is also involved on the prodrug synthesis and drug-loaded polymeric micelles projects.

Dr. Q. Peña

Zaheer Ahmed

Zaheer (M.Sc. Life Science, Hanyang University, South Korea, 2015) works on the development of targeted nanoparticles for the treatment of cancers. The underlying purpose of his DAAD fellowship is to harness the potential of inorganic nanoparticles such as nanoceria and to employ them to improve the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of anticancer therapy.

Z. Ahmed

Xiangyang Bai

Xiangyang (M.Sc. in Material Science and Engineering, 2015) conducted research on inorganic nanoparticles as novel antibiotics at The Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Currently he is performing his PhD research on the development of polymeric nanotheranostics for the treatment of cancer, via a grant funded by the China Scholarship Council (CSC).

X. Bai

Ilaria Biancacci

Ilaria (M. Sc. in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, University of Urbino, Italy 2018) is part of the research training group “Tumor-Targeted Drug Delivery”. Her work aims to preclinically evaluate the effect of nano-sized delivery systems on different types of cancer. For this purpose, she employs various imaging techniques to characterize the EPR-related features of tumor microenvironment and to assess the efficacy of image-guided anticancer therapy.

I. Biancacci

S. M. Ali Dadfar

Ali (M.SC. Chemical Engineering, Polymer Science and Nanotechnology, Sharif University of Technology, December 2009) works on temperature-responsive and multi-drug-loaded liposomes for tumor targeted combination therapy. In addition, he also participates in project on drug-loaded polymeric micelles for theranostic application.

S.M.A. Dadfar

Anshuman Dasgupta

Anshuman (B.Sc. in Pharmacy, BITS Pilani, India) works on a project aiming to improve drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier. He is particularly interested in the synthesis and functionalization of microbubbles, to facilitate their use for ultrasound-mediated sonoporation.

A. Dasgupta

Federica De Lorenzi

Federica (M.Sc. Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, University of Urbino, Italy 2016) focuses on the preclinical evaluation of different nanomedicines regarding their efficiency to target breast cancer metastasis. In this context, she employs various in vitro and in vivo imaging techniques to monitor and visualize metastatic lesions, to investigate the tumor microenviroment and to assess the efficacy of antimetastatic therapy.

F. De Lorenzi

Mengjiao Liu

Mengjiao (M.Sc. in Pharmaceutics, Sichuan Agricultural University, China 2015) obtained a stipend from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to join the Nanomedicine and Theranostics group. The primary aim of her work is to develop multifunctional microbubbles to enhance drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and to improve the treatment of brain tumors.

M. Liu

Jan-Niklas May

Jan-Niklas (M.Sc. Biology, RWTH Aachen) is a PhD student, who is involved in a project regarding the analysis of nanocarrier accumulation in the brain upon ultrasound-mediated and microbubble-assisted blood-brain barrier opening. Therefore, he uses many imaging techniques such as hybrid CT-FMT, fluorescence microscopy and multiphoton laser microscopy.

J. May

Diana Möckel

Diana (B.Sc. in Bioscience and Health, HSRW Kleve) works as a lab technician and is involved in many different projects, focusing e.g. on tumor angiogenesis, on drug targeting to tumors and on liver fibrosis. She not only contributes to cell culture, immunohistochemistry and microscopy, but also to diagnostic and therapeutic in vivo and ex vivo experiments.

D. Möckel

Tarun Ojha

Tarun (M.Sc. in Nanoscience and MTech in Nanotechnology, Amity University, India 2013) focuses on the evaluation of nanomedicine formulations in tumors with different levels of EPR. He evaluates methods to monitor and modulate angiogenesis, including vascular normalization, in order to improve drug targeting to tumors, and to enhance the efficacy of combination therapies.

T. Ojha

Vertika Pathak

Vertika (M.Sc. in Nanoscience and M.Tech in Nanotechnology, Amity University, India 2013) works on materials and methods to improve drug and oxygen delivery to tumors, in particular to brain tumors. The primary focus of her work is on alleviating tumor-associated hypoxia, via strategies such as nanomedicine-mediated vascular normalization, in order to improve the efficacy of combined modality anticancer therapy.

V. Pathak

Karolin Römhild

Karolin (Dipl. Chemistry, WWU Münster, 2012) focuses on iron metabolism and the impact of iron in tumor growth and progression. Part of the project is to investigate alterations in tumor microenvironment and macrophage polarization under iron overloaded or depleted conditions.

K. Römhild

Armin Azadkhah Shalmani

Armin (PharmD, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran 2018) is doing his PhD with the main focus on the development and evaluation of size-optimized polymeric micelle-based formulation for co-loading of drugs to prime tumor microenvironment and improve penetrability and efficacy of cancer nanomedicines.

A. Shalmani

Maryam Sheybanifard

Maryam (M.Sc. in Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, 2014) is a member of the research training group “Tumor-Targeted Drug Delivery”. She mainly focuses on actively targeted liposome formulations in a continuous flow manufacturing set-up. She also contributes to the polymeric micelles preparation and characterization project.

M. Sheybanifard

Qingxue Sun

Qingxue obtained Master of Medicine at Shandong University in 2010. She is currently performing her PhD research at RWTH Aachen University Clinic, focusing on the application of nanomedicines in cancer immunotherapy.

Q. Sun

Okan Tezcan

Okan (M.Sc. in Biology, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, 2013) received a prestigious DAAD scholarship to work on the relationship between multidrug resistance and metastasis. He generates multidrug resistant cells and metastatic tumor models, develops nanomedicine formulations to overcome multidrug resistance in metastases, and employs imaging techniques to longitudinally monitor therapeutic efficacy.

O. Tezcan

Robert Tungadi

Robert (M.Sc. Pharmacy, Hasanuddin University, Indonesia, 2008) is working on liposome formulations for the delivery of natural compounds. His project, which primarily focuses on pharmaceutical engineering and on in vitro and in vivo testing, is funded via an Indonesian scholarship.

R. Tungadi

Bi Wang

Bi Wang (M.Sc. in Material Physical Chemistry, Shenzhen University, China 2017) obtained a stipend from the China Scholarship Council (CSC) to join the Nanomedicine and Theranostics group. The primary aim of my work is to develop multifunctional micelle to enhance drug delivery efficacy and to improve the tumors treatment efficacy.

B. Wang