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Biological drugs, including proteins and RNA-based polynucleotides, are taking an increasing space in the industry pipelines. Despite their potency, the difficulties of these macromolecules for overcoming biological barriers and reach the intracellular targets have limited their full exploitation.

Fortunately, the continuously improved understanding of the biological barriers and the molecular biology associated to pathological conditions is paving the way for a more comprehensive and rational design of protein formulations based on the use of nanotechnology. Our laboratory, with a long-track experience in the formulation of macromolecules using polymer nanoparticles, has significantly contributed to this field. As an example, in the 90’s we were the first to report that nanoparticles made of either PLA-PEG or chitosan were efficient vehicles for the transmucosal delivery of proteins, antigens and polynucleotides. The result of our subsequent efforts is an array of nanotechnologies, which make use of polymers and lipids and can be used to deliver biologicals across mucosal surfaces, and to facilitate their intracellular delivery following parenteral administration.

In my presentation, I will focus on the design of carriers for proteins and RNA molecules that could be used in different therapeutic areas: (i) nanovaccines, taking HIV as an example, (iii) nose-to-brain delivery of RNA, (iv) delivery of mAb targeted to intracellular onco-proteins, as new oncological treatments.

Overall, our experience in this field has benefited from integrative approaches adopted by specifically designed consortia. Hopefully, the results of these cooperative efforts will help to accelerate the progress of a rational design of protein-based nanomedicines.
More information about these projects can be found at:

The research activity has been founded by the Horizon 2020 Program the European Comision (grant agreement # 646142 – NANOPILOT and grant agreement No. 721058- B-SMART), by MINECO- PCIN-2017-129/ AEI, under the frame of EuroNanoMed III, and by The National Institutes of Health (NIH) (Grant Number: R01AI111805


María José Alonso is Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology at the University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Her lab has pioneered numerous discoveries in the field of nanomedicine. She has coordinated several research consortia financed by the WHO, the Gates Foundation and the European Commission.

She is the author of more than 300 scientific contributions with H factor 100. She is the inventor of 22 patent families, most of them licensed to industry and she has been part of 3 start-up ventures. Because of the quality of her scientific articles she has been among the TOP TEN in Pharmacology (Times Higher Education international ranking, 2010). Recently, she become part of the “Power List” of the most influential researchers in the field of Biopharmaceuticals (The Medicine Maker, 2020, 2021)

She has served to the Release Society (CRS) for 15 years and become President of the CRS in 2018. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the Drug Delivery and Translational Research, an official journal of the CRS, and she is part of the editorial board of 12 journals.

She has received 36 awards, among them the the “Founders Award” and the “Women in Sciences Award” of the CRS. She is a fellow of the AIMBE and a Fellow of the CRS, a member of the Royal Academy of Pharmacy of Spain, the Royal Academy of Sciences of Galicia, the Royal Academy of Pharmacy in Galicia a member of the Royal Academy of Medicine of Belgium and a member of the US National Academy of Medicine (NAM).

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