Delivering drugs to the brain with super-selective targeted nanoparticles

Group: Nanoscopy for nanomedicine and Molecular bionics
Group leader: Lorenzo Albertazzi  ( and Giuseppe Battaglia (

Research project

Delivering drugs to the brain is a major challenge in medicine due to the difficulties in crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This is a severe limitation for the treatment of several diseases including neurodegenerative diseases and brain cancer. The use of nanoparticles as drug carriers can overcome these issues and provide new therapies, i.e. nanomedicine.

The project aims at the design of nanoparticles functionalized with ligands able to bind to the brain blood vessels and to promote the translocation of the carrier across the BBB. The project will include: the formulation of functional nanoparticles, the study of receptor targeting and the biological evaluation of the synthesized materials.

The project will be carried out between the Nanoscopy for Nanomedicine group (Lorenzo Albertazzi) and the Molecular Bionics group (Giuseppe Battaglia). The two groups pioneered the fields at the basis of the project including nanoparticle synthesis (Science Adv.  2016, e1500948), advanced microscopy (ACS Nano. 2019, 13, 9, 9707–9712), and biological models (Lab Chip. 2017, 17, 22, 3760–3771). Both group leaders have other international appointments, in particular with University College London and the Eindhoven University of Technology, favoring collaborations and international mobility of the fellow.


Job position

The student will be involved in:

  • Formulate nanoparticles functionalized with targeting ligands that promote transport across the blood brain barrier.
  • Characterize the nanoparticles with advanced imaging methods.
  • Study the expression of biomarkers on the brain blood vessels using super-resolution microscopy.
  • Evaluate and screen the nanoparticles for crossing the BBB in in vitro models such as organ-on-a-chip.

The student thanks to the multidisciplinary nature of the project will be able to learn several methods and techniques such as super-resolution imaging, organ-on-a-chip and nanoparticle formulation.