Our Team

Xavier Fernàndez Busquets

Xavier Fernàndez Busquets

Associate Research Professor Malaria Elimination, Malaria

Dr. Xavier Fernàndez-Busquets has a background training in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from where he has explored biomolecular interactions in a number of models: histone-DNA association, glycosaminoglycan-based cell adhesion, amyloidogenesis in neurological disorders, and enzyme-substrate interactions at the single-molecule level, among others. His current research activity focuses on the design of nanosensors for the biodiscovery of new antimalarials and on the engineering of nanovectors for drug delivery. He has developed his career in several research centers, among which the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Ciba-Geigy AG (Basel, Switzerland), the Friedrich Miescher Institute (Basel), the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (US), the Universitat de Barcelona, the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia and the Barcelona Center for International Health Research. He is leading ISGlobal's Nanomalaria Group, a joint unit participated by the last two institutions.

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

  • Sisquella, X., de Pourcq, K., Alguacil, J., Robles, J., Sanz, F., Anselmetti, D., Imperial, S., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2010) A single-molecule force spectroscopy nanosensor for the identification of new antibiotics and antimalarials. FASEB J. 24, 4203-4217.
  • Urbán, P., Estelrich, J., Cortés, A., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2011) A nanovector with complete discrimination for targeted delivery to Plasmodium falciparum-infected versus non-infected red blood cells in vitro. J. Control. Release 151, 202-211.
  • Urbán, P., Estelrich, J., Adeva, A., Cortés, A., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2011) Study of the efficacy of antimalarial drugs delivered inside targeted immunoliposomal nanovectors. Nanoscale Research Letters 6, 620.
  • Urbán, P., Valle-Delgado, J.J., Moles, E., Marques, J., Díez, C., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2012) Nanotools for the delivery of antimicrobial peptides. Current Drug Targets 13, 1158-1172.
  • Valle-Delgado, J.J., Urbán, P., and Fernàndez-Busquets, X. (2013) Demonstration of specific binding of heparin to Plasmodium falciparum-infected vs non-infected red blood cells by single-molecule force spectroscopy. Nanoscale, in press.