Our Team

Xavier Fernàndez

Xavier Fernàndez

Associate Research Professor Malaria

Xavier Fernández-Busquets started his undergraduate research career as a trainee student (1985 and 1986) in Organic Chemistry and Enzymology at the CIBA-GEIGY Zentrale Forschungslaboratorien in Basel, Switzerland. He graduated in Biology (Biochemistry specialization) at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (1986), where he also obtained his PhD in the field of Molecular Biology (1992).

Between 1992 and 2001 he held several postdoctoral positions, among which those at the Friedrich Miescher Institut (Novartis AG, Basel) and at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (Massachusetts, US), where he worked on the evolutionary origins of specific cell adhesion and started his training in Nanotechnology.

After returning to Spain with a postdoctoral contract (Universitat de Barcelona, 1999), he obtained in 2001 a 5-year tenure track Ramón y Cajal position at the Universitat de Barcelona where he led a group focused on nanotechnological approaches to amyloid diseases and malaria. After obtaining the I3 accreditation, he became in 2006 Senior Researcher at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC) and since 2010 he is Head of the Nanomalaria Joint Unit (IBEC/Barcelona Institute for Global Health, ISGlobal).

Lines of Research

Development of nanovectors for the targeted drug delivery of antimalarials.

With the advent of nanoscience, renewed hopes have appeared of finally obtaining the long sought-after magic bullet against malaria. The use of overall drug doses sufficiently low to avoid side effects, but which locally are high enough to be lethal for the parasite, will contribute to reduce the evolution of parasite resistance and thus increase drug efficacy. The nanomalaria group works on the design of prototype nanovectors for the targeted delivery of antimalarial drugs exclusively to Plasmodium-infected cells, capable of reaching the preclinical pipeline in the short term. The three variables being explored are the type of encapsulating structure, the targeting molecule, and the antimalarial compound itself, in order to assemble a Troyan horse nanocapsule targeting with complete specificity parasitized cells, of delivering inside them its antimalarial cargo, and of eliminating detectable parasitemia both in Plasmodium cultures and in mouse and mosquito malaria models. Benefits and drawbacks of the different nanovector elements are considered, including cost-related issues and the ethics of possible constraints that might be hampering the development of nanotechnology-based medicines against malaria with the dubious argument that they are too expensive to be used in developing areas.

Main publications

Biosca, A., Dirscherl, L., Moles, E., Imperial, S., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2019) An immunoPEGliposome for targeted antimalarial combination therapy at the nanoscale. Pharmaceutics 11, E341.

Martí Coma-Cros, E., Biosca, A., Marques, J., Carol, L., Urbán, P., Berenguer, D., Riera, M.C., Delves, M., Sinden, R.E., Valle-Delgado, J.J., Spanos, L., Siden-Kiamos, I., Pérez, P., Paaijmans, K., Rottmann, M., Manfredi, A., Ferruti, P., Ranucci, E., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2018) Polyamidoamine nanoparticles for the oral administration of antimalarial drugs. Pharmaceutics 10, E225.

Moles, E., Galiano, S., Gomes, A., Quiliano, M., Teixeira, C., Aldana, I., Gomes, P., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2017) ImmunoPEGliposomes for the targeted delivery of novel lipophilic drugs to red blood cells in a falciparum malaria murine model. Biomaterials 145, 178-19.

Marques, J., Valle-Delgado, J.J., Urbán, P., Baró, E., Prohens, R., Mayor, A., Cisteró, P., Delves, M., Sinden, R.E., Grandfils, C., de Paz, J.L., García-Salcedo, J.A., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2017) Adaptation of targeted nanocarriers to changing requirements in antimalarial drug delivery. Nanomedicine: NBM;13, 515-525.