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Faith Marura Kivunga

ESR Project 13

University of Bordeaux, INSERM U1212, Bordeaux, France

LONs: amphiphilic bioconjugates for anticancer applications



Dr. Ulf Tedebark, RISE (Academic)

Dr. Mohamed Anis Alouini, SynVec (Industrial)


Faith Marura Kivunga has a background in Biochemistry from the University of Nairobi (2012-2016). Thanks to the University of Nairobi scholarship award in 2017, she undertook her MSc. Biotechnology degree at the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioinformatics (CEBIB).  Through the Initiative to Develop African Research Leaders (IDeAL) Masters fellowship, in 2018 she worked on her thesis project entitled, “The expression of PF3D7_1146100; a novel essential Plasmodium falciparum antigen and its evaluation as a target of protective immunity to clinical malaria” at KEMRI-Wellcome Trust, Kilifi, Kenya.

Faith also worked as an Assistant Research Officer in the same lab before joining the OLIGOMED network as an Early Research Scientist in December 2021.

Her main interest is in drug discovery and interdisciplinary translational research that will contribute to good health and overall wellbeing of individuals globally.

Project Description

Lipid ON conjugates (LONs) are attracting much attention lately owing to their unique physicochemical and biological properties. Preliminary results have shown that supramolecular structures can be controlled and stabilised via lipid modification of ONs, and the LON approach is efficient both in vitro and in vivo for the delivery of therapeutic antisense ASO sequences targeting tumour proteins. Hence, this strategy will provide vital systems to the project by means to deliver active sequences, and control nucleic acid structures. The aim of this ESR PhD project will be the development and optimization of synthesis and characterisation of a series of novel LASOs featuring lipid(s) and/or fluorocarbon moieties inserted at the 3’ and/or 5’ extremities and/or within the ON sequences. The student will determine the relationship existing between the molecular and supramolecular structures resulting from their self-aggregation. Also, biological evaluations of LASOs against cancer and/or Huntington’s diseases investigated by the ESR PhD. During secondments in partner organizations the student will extend their knowledge on oligonucleotides formulations for pre-clinical and clinical trial evaluations. derivatization.


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

  • Dr. Ulf Tedebark, Research Institutes RISE of Sweden

  • Dr. Mohamed Anis Alouini, SynVec, Bordeaux, France

Project summary in 3 min

Host Laboratory

The ARNA laboratory (Nucleic Acids: Natural and Artificial Regulations, Director Prof P. Barthélémy) brings together on the Carreire campus and within the IECB (European Institute of Chemistry and Biology) around 120 people, half of whom are permanent staff from Inserm, the CNRS and the University of Bordeaux (INSERM U1212 / UMR CNRS 5320, UB). ARNA hosts five interdisciplinary teams (Chemistry, Biology, BioPhysics) implementing researches focusing on the study of nucleic acids. Associated teams share common themes, models and methodologies around the understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of gene expression, the design of artificial regulators of biological functions and the development of new molecular structures and / or supramolecular based on nucleic acid (nucleosides, nucleotides and oligonucleotides).


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Université de Bordeaux
146 rue Léo Saignat
33076 Bordeaux

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