Niels Bohr Lecture: The Magic Bullet – Niels Bohr Institute - University of Copenhagen

Niels Bohr Institute > Calendar > 2007 > Ole G. Mouritsen

Niels Bohr Lecture: The Magic Bullet


Ole G. Mouritsen, professor dr.scient.
MEMPHYS-Center for Biomembrane Physics
University of Southern Denmark

One of the key problems in the treatment of serious diseases like cancer is that many potent drugs are very poisonous and not only kill the diseased cells but also healthy ones. The term `magic bullet' was coined by Nobel Laureate Paul Erlich, the father of modern medicinal chemistry, who in the beginning of the twentieth century envisioned the perfect drug as a `bullet' that automatically targets and selectively kills the diseased cells without damaging healthy tissue. - Recent research into the physics and physical chemistry of fats (lipids) has suggested that it may be possible to construct nano-scale particles, so-called liposomes that encapsulate and mask potent drugs. Using principles from polymer physics, the liposomes can be constructed to effectively invade the human immune system and carry the drug to the target. By taking advantage of specific biophysical properties of the liposomes on the one side and the peculiar pathophysiological and biochemical properties of e.g. cancer cells on the other side, it is possible in an intelligent way to target the liposomes to the diseased cells and with a particular mechanism, involving certain enzymes, to open the liposomal carriers and unload the drug precisely where the drug is supposed to act. - This approach to drug research is rather unconventional since it is predominantly based on physical sciences.

About the speaker: Ole G. Mouritsen is the director of the Center for Biomembrane Physics at the University of southern Denmark. In his career he has made several significant contributions in condensed matter physics and biophysics and has published more than 300 scientific articles. He has been awarded a number of prices for his work including Villum Kann Rasmussen's Research Price 1990, NKT Research Price 1998, Hasselblad Foundation Research Award 1998, and Royal Society of Chemistry Bourke Award and Silver Medal 2008.
Furthermore, Ole Mouritsen is also known as great communicator and was awarded the Danish National Research Communication Prize in 2007.

The Niels Bohr Lectures and Niels Bohr Institute Colloquia is a lecture series in English language directed at students and staff at the Niels Bohr Institute and other interested parties. The lectures are held by some of the world's leading scientists and by the staff of the Institute. They are held at a technical level corresponding to the first few years of the physics education.