LEaDing Fellows alumnus Gabriel Forn Cuni receives NWO XS grant
The project ‘targeted biomolecule production for therapeutic use’ of LEaDing Fellows alumnus Gabriel Forn Cuni (Leiden University, Institute for Biology) was awarded with a grant in the Open Competition Domain Science – XS NWO. This NWO category emphatically strives to encourage curiosity-driven and bold research involving a relatively quick analysis of a promising idea.
Drug targeting is a main challenge for the pharmaceutical industry: how do we guide a drug to its target while minimizing secondary effects? Our innovative solution is not to target drug delivery, but to produce drugs specifically at the target location. To do so, we will bioengineer a system based on harmless fungal spores as a vehicle to produce biomolecules directly at the intended target site via precise genetic regulation. As a proof-of-concept, we will apply this system to treat tuberculosis in an animal model by producing antibiotics directly at the site of infection.
‘My LEaDing Fellowship was based on using a zebrafish in vivo animal model to study the basic biology of a deadly human disease. This small project is based on the application to drug delivery of the insight that I got through the direct observation of the interaction between the host and the pathogen during my fellowship’ according to Gabriel. He finished his LEaDing Fellowship in December 2019 and is now working as a postdoc in the EU-funded project RespiriNTM, directly applying a zebrafish infection model to the preclinical discovery and development of drugs against non-tubercular mycobacteria.