Ine De Cock

Ine DC profile pic


De Cock Ine
Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy
Ghent University
Harelbekestraat 72
9000 Gent
Tel: 0032 9 2648047 (secretary)
Tel: 0032 9 264 8074 (direct)
Fax: 0032 9 2648189


Ine De Cock studied Pharmaceutical Sciences at Ghent University. Her master thesis, which she performed in the Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy, was entitled ‘Evaluation of the pathways involved in the uptake of mRNA complexes’. After obtaining her master degree in Drug Development in 2011, she started her doctoral research at the Laboratory for General Biochemistry and Physical Pharmacy. Her research project is funded by IWT.

Summary of Research Project(s)

The doctoral research of Ine De Cock focuses on the optimization and elucidation of ultrasound mediated gene delivery.

Today, the success of gene therapy is hampered by the lack of both safe and efficient systems to deliver genes to target cells. Non-viral vectors, e.g. lipoplexes, were developed as safer systems compared to viruses, but their effect is limited. To increase the efficiency, ultrasound in combination with microbubbles has emerged as an alternative technique. By bringing microbubbles, which consist of a gas core stabilized by a lipid shell, in an ultrasonic field, they start cavitating, i.e. alternately contracting and expanding. At higher ultrasound intensities, the microbubbles can even implode. These oscillations and implosions create streamings in the surrounding fluid and can cause permeabilization of cell membranes. This phenomenon is called sonoporation and is a very exciting feature for gene delivery, since it allows direct cytoplasmic entry of nucleic acids.

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FIG.| Ultrasound induced cavitation and implosion of microbubbles leading to sonoporation and delivery of nucleic acids to the cell.  

A first aim of the research project is to elucidate the biophysical mechanisms involved in sonoporation. By using confocal microscopy, the interactions between ultrasound driven microbubble oscillations and cells can be studied real time. This provides insights in the sonoporation mechanisms and can aid in optimization of the technique. A link to some real time recordings during ultrasound radiation can be found below. A second goal of the doctoral research is to optimize ultrasound mediated transfection of cells, more specifically endothelial cells. Since microbubbles have a size in the micrometer range, they are restricted to the bloodstream and their effect is primarily directed to endothelial cells. By expressing the correct or the deficient gene in endothelial cells, genetic diseases related to the vasculature can be treated.

LINK | Real time recordings of microbubble-cell interactions during ultrasound radiation.