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The University of Southampton
Institute for Life Sciences

Ane Gutierrez Aguirregabiria Hilary Marsden IfLS PhD Student, 2019

Ane Gutierrez Aguirregabiria's Photo

LNA-DNA chimeras targeting IRES for in vivo manipulation and monitoring of gene expression for imaging and cancer therapy

This project is a joint study between Chemistry, Biological Sciences and Medicine at the University of Southampton. The interdisciplinary nature of this PhD integrates technologies related to DNA synthesis, gene expression, cell biology and molecular biology. This PhD project will give me the chance to learn different techniques, obtain a wide range of skills and to gain a broad knowledge in different disciplines.

During my undergraduate degree in Biotechnology I developed a keen interest in biomedical research and cancer in particular, which is why I decided to do a Masters in Translational Biomedical Research at Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona. I did my master’s thesis at the Oncology department, Vall d’Hebron Research Institute. This experience motivated me to undertake a PhD in a related area to continue my scientific career.

My PhD project involves chemical synthesis of modified oligonucleotides.  These are used to target specific sequences to control the efficiency of translation initiation in structured mRNAs, particularly those which use the mechanism of internal ribosome entry to drive translation. The system will be evaluated in terms of its suitability to study RNA localisation in live cells, and we aim to couple this with being able to observe changes in translation activity in real time.

A long term aim of the project is to determine the efficacy of our modified oligonucleotides in the treatment of cancer, which will first focus on the use of cell lines, with the aim to eventually translate the work into targeted treatments.

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