Dorien Aerssens


Dorien Aerssens studied at Ghent University, where she received her Master of Science in Chemistry Summa cum Laude under the supervision of Prof. Annemieke Madder. The dissertation, titled “Formulation of controlled release hydrogel-based drug delivery systems for application in inflammatory diseases” was done in collaboration with the research group of Prof. Steven Ballet ( VUB) and Prof. Tom Van den Berghe (UA).

Currently, Dorien is pursuing a joint PhD in organic chemistry in the OBCR (UGent) and ORGC (VUB) groups under the supervision of Prof. Annemieke Madder, Prof. Steven Ballet and Prof. Charlotte Martin.

Her research focuses on hydrogel engineering in order to prolong the release of therapeutics.

Research Topic

Peptide based hydrogels for the sustained release of proteins

In a previous collaboration between the OBCR research group and the research group of Prof. Ballet at VUB, a new set of short, but tunable amphipathic hexapeptide sequences were developed that form hydrogels upon addition of phosphate buffer saline (PBS) or physiological saline solution (0.9% NaCl) as the gelation trigger. These conditions are highly desirable because they mimic the physiological conditions of subcutaneous compartments in which the gels will be injected. Furthermore, these hydrogels were found to be shear-thinning and can be aspirated and injected through a standard 25G needle used for subcutaneous injections. In this project, we consider synthetic and structural variations to the peptides to increase release times. Furthermore, we study protein release in more detail and evaluate our peptide hydrogel platform as a drug delivery depot that is able to protect the protein from degradation and release the protein over prolonged periods of time.