Dr. Gonzalo Hortelano – Faculty of Engineering
Gonzalo Hortelano

Dr. Gonzalo Hortelano


Gene delivery strategies, biomaterials, cell encapsulation, drug delivery, modulation of immune responses, polymers, hemostasis

Areas of Specialization

Research Clusters

  • Adjunct Member

    McMaster School of Biomedical Engineering


Gene and cell therapy technologies provide a promising new avenue to treat medical conditions. Furthermore, the original aim of gene therapy, understood as the delivery of a functional gene in a patient who has a mutated one is being widen to include new aims such as the inhibition of genes of infectious pathogens, the overexpression of angiogenic or interleukin genes in patients who bear no mutations in those genes, gene editing or the engineering of immune cells to recognize a tumour antigen. My research is aimed at developing novel strategies for the delivery of genes and cells for medical therapeutic applications. As a common theme all these strategies use biomaterials to achieve its purpose. My laboratory has comprehensive experience encapsulating genetically engineered cells in hydrogel implantable microcapsules for the delivery of therapeutics. We are also working on developing nanoparticle formulations of DNA for oral administration with potential application to various medical conditions, such as hemophilia. Our current research also aims to deliver genes that can modulate undesirable immune responses to FVIII, with potential application to other diseases.

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Dr. Hortelano came to McMaster in 1992 as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Pediatrics in the laboratory of Dr. Patricia Chang, and stayed later as a faculty member in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine. He was also a faculty member of the School of Biomedical Engineering since its inception. Since 2012 he works at Nazarbayev University, a new international university in Astana, Kazakhstan, where he is a Professor in the Department of Biology and was the Chair of the department (2015-2017). He has ongoing research collaborations with Dr. Anthony Chan, Department of Pediatrics, at McMaster University, and is co-supervising with him a graduate student in the School of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Hortelano teaches at Nazarbayev University undergraduate courses in genetics and molecular biology of the cell, as well as graduate courses in gene therapy and regenerative medicine.

  • BSc in Biology from the University of The Basque Country in Spain.
  • MSc in Microbial Genetics from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
  • PhD in Molecular Genetics from the University of Wollongong in Australia.
  • Dr. Hortelano was the Founding President of the Spanish Society of Gene Therapy (1999-2003), and served later as a Past President.
  • He has been a Member, Grant review panel, Program of Excellence in Gene Therapy, National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, and grant reviewer for CIHR and NSERC in Canada.
  • He served on the Editorial Board of Current Gene Therapy and has been an expert reviewer for over 20 journals in the area of gene therapy, hematology, biomaterials, drug delivery & biotechnology.

Hortelano, G., A. Al-Hendy, F.A. Ofosu, and P.L. Chang. (1996)

Delivery of human factor IX in mice by microencapsulated recombinant myoblasts: A novel approach towards allogeneic gene therapy of hemophilia B

BLOOD 87(12):5095-5103

Orive G, Hernandez RM, Gascon AR, Calafiore R, Chang TM, Vos PD, Hortelano G, Hunkeler D, Lacik I, Shapiro AM, Pedraz JL. (2003)

Cell encapsulation: Promise and progress.

NATURE MEDICINE 9(1):104-107

Dhadwar S, Kiernan J, Wen J, Hortelano G. (2010)

Repeated oral administration of chitosan/DNA nanoparticles delivers functional FVIII with the absence of antibodies in hemophilia A mice


Sayyar B, Dodd M, Marquez L, Janowska A, Hortelano G. (2015)

Fibronectin-Alginate Microcapsules Improve Cell Viability and Protein Secretion of Encapsulated FIX-Engineered Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells


Ashimova A, Yegorov S, Negmetzhanov B, Hortelano G. (2019)

Cell Encapsulation within Alginate Microcapsules: Immunological Challenges and Outlook


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