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The University of Southampton
OLIGOMED - Oligonucleotides for medical applications

ESR Project 14, Ghent University (BE)

mAb-ON conjugation for cellular ON delivery

ESR14 Jan Heinrich Meffert
Jan Heinrich Meffert

Jan H. Meffert completed his undergraduate education in Chemistry at Bielefeld University, Germany and at University of Paris, France, in a double degree programme where he obtained two first-class BSc degrees. During his bachelor’s thesis at the university Paris‑Saclay in the group of Prof. Guianvarc'h, he developed and validated a synthetic approach towards a lipid a analogue via one-pot tandem catalysis.

During his first master’s at Bielefeld University, he then mainly focused on developing catalytic methodology towards pharmaceutically relevant chiral fragments. After three research projects at different institutions in industry and academia, he joined Prof. Gröger’s group, which allowed him to combine his gained knowledge in catalysis. In his master’s thesis, he investigated the combination of organo- and biocatalysis for the synthesis of chiral 1,3-diamines, leading to a first-class MSc degree.

Following that, a scholarship awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service allowed him to further expand his knowledge in chemical biology by joining Di Antonio’s Group at Imperial College London, UK in the context of a MRes degree in Drug Discovery and Development. He developed and synthesised a CRISPR Cas9 drug conjugate and evaluated its ability to perform site-selective DNA alkylation.

Thrilled by the possibilities of highly selective therapeutics, he joined OLIGOMED in October 2021.

Host institution Ghent University, Organic and Biomimetic Chemistry Research group, Department of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry, Ghent, Belgium
Supervisor Prof. Annemieke Madder
Co-Supervisors Prof. Carlo Vascotto, University of Udine, Italy (Academic)
Dr. Shalini Andersson, AstraZeneca, Cardiovascular, Renal and Metabolic Diseases (CVRM), Sweden (Industrial)

Project description

The aim of this ESR PhD project will be to evaluate the use of antibodies as ON delivery vehicles for improved delivery of ONs. The development of tumour-targeted therapies using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) has been successful during the last 30 years to target cancer, but the efficacy of antibody-based therapy is still limited. There is room for improvement and in this project, Jan will explore suitable conjugation chemistries for production of ON-mAb conjugates and cell-uptake of the conjugates as well as the resulting antisense effect will be evaluated.


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

Host laboratory

The research activities in the OBCR group of Prof. Madder are focused on (1) Design and synthesis of conformationally defined cyclic peptides for therapeutic purposes; (2) Development of chemically modified aptamers for improved sensor development; (3) Development of new methods for crosslinking, conjugation and labeling of biomacromolecules such as peptides, proteins and oligonucleotides. In the current project we will exploit our bioconjugation expertise to achieve efficient conjugation of oligonucleotides with suitable antibodies or other relevant proteins.

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