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MMBio - Marie Curie Training Network

Susanna Zamolo


I studied chemistry at the University of Pavia where I received my BSc and, successively, my MSc in 2016. During my Master's studies I focused my attention on Organic Chemistry and there I developed a particular interest in biochemistry. In the course of my thesis I had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of both synthetic chemistry and biochemistry, investigating the binding selectivity of fluorescent ligands for DNA G-quadruplex(G4) structures with potential anti-cancer activity. In particular, the aim of my research was the synthesis of naphthalene imide-naphthalene diimide conjugates and their spectroscopic analysis to prove their effective binding affinity towards different G4 structures.
I have always been fascinated by the possible application of synthetic organic molecules in biological systems, in order to understand physiological processes. I believe that gene therapy makes the discovery of new transfection reagents an urgent necessity and I am enthusiastic to join this challenge.

Training and Transferable Skills:
- Synthetic organic chemistry
- Preparative HPLC
- 1H- and 13C-NMR
- Analytical HPLC
- UV-Vis and CD spectroscopy
- Mass spectrometry (ESI)
- IR

Research Projects:
The development of new gene therapeutics to provide new tools in the treatment of diseases of genetic origin is becoming increasingly relevant over the last decades. Very efficient non-viral gene delivery systems are required making research in that area crucial for the success of gene therapy.
In this context, the objective of my project is to improve a system for the delivery of oligonucleotides (DNA, mRNA, siRNA...) and conjugates as genetic drugs. In particular, I am focused on the synthesis of Peptide Dendrimers, in order to obtain a molecular scaffold able to encapsulate and transport nucleic acids into cells. We can build up peptide dendrimers with natural or unnatural amino acids by solid phase peptide synthesis and it is possible to prepare large libraries of dendrimers for activity screening. The synthetic work will be followed by biological studies and structure-activity relationship and investigation of the mechanism of action of the best transfection reagents developed. Targeted delivery will also be investigated.