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The University of Southampton
OLIGOMED - Oligonucleotides for medical applications

ESR Project 12, University of Southampton (UK)

Modular DNA nanopore (NP) for targeted cell killing

ESR12 Tina-Thien Ho
Tina-Thien Ho

Tina-Thien Ho pursued her pharmaceutical degree at the Free University of Berlin (Germany), where the conveyed substantiated knowledge allowed her to pass the second section of the pharmaceutical state exam.

During her studies, she applied her competencies in the department of quality assurance at Berlin-Chemie AG, where she was part of a project team for establishing new evaluation procedures of in-process control data. Her work involved cross referencing and analyzing potential anomalies in order to detect root causes to existing or hidden problems, thus improving the overall process performance.

In addition, she performed an internal placement in the department of quality control at Berlin-Chemie AG where she took the responsibility for establishing classical microchemical test methods to detect and identify selected cations as contaminants in incoming goods.

She was awarded a fellowship by ERASMUS and upon graduation she went on to pursue an internship at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Stockholm, Sweden. There her research project involved working with synthetic oligonucleotides in order to optimize an oligonucleotide-based purification method for Frataxin-expressing minicircles that can be used as a therapy approach for Friedreich’s Ataxia.

Whilst based in Stockholm, she entered KI’s Co-Up Lab programme operated by EIT Health, in which she was directly confronted with the entrepreneurial spirit to foster innovation within the medical field.



Host institution University of Southampton, School of Chemistry, Southampton, UK
Supervisor Prof. Eugen Stulz
Co-Supervisors  Prof. Philippe Barthélémy, University of Bordeaux INSERM U1212 / UMR CNRS 5320, Bordeaux, France (Academic)
Dr. Anna Perdrix Rosell, Sixfold Bioscience, London, UK (Industrial)

Project description

The aim of this ESR PhD project is the development and optimization of protocols for a modular ON self-assembly system for cancer therapy, which combines membrane nanopores with adjustable targeting modules and therapeutic units. Assembling those building blocks into a single multifunctional and modular entity is a unique feature of our approach to develop a disruptive technology for personalised cancer medicine. During secondments to both industrial and academic partners Tina-Thien Ho will extend her knowledge on conjugation of ODNs with cell targeting units and their effect on survival of cancer cells, both in vitro and in vivo.



This project is carried out in strong collaboration with the following groups:

Host laboratory

The research activities in the group of Prof. Stulz are focused on the synthesis of DNA, their modification, and subsequent study of the effects on biological systems, as well as applications in bio-nanotechnology (energy). The group has full access to state-of-the-art laboratories for synthesis and handling of DNA including chemical modification, purification and analysis (HPLC, UV-vis, fluorescence, CD spectroscopy, MS); biological studies (cell viability using flow cytometry, imaging using confocal microscopy, cell transfection etc) are performed with our collaborators at either the Southampton General Hospital (School of Medicine, Cancer Centre), in the School of Biological Sciences or with the partners in the network.

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