2020 Dr. Alan M. Gewirtz Memorial Scholarship Award Winner Annabelle Biscans, PhD

Annabelle Biscans, PhD, AstraZeneca

Designing New Chemically Engineered siRNAs for Extrahepatic Delivery


Annabelle Biscans obtained her PhD in chemistry from the University of Montpellier (France) in 2015, where her work focused on the chemical synthesis of RNA prodrugs for the development of new therapeutic oligonucleotides. During her PhD, she established and optimized synthetic methods to successfully synthesize novel 2’-modified siRNAs and demonstrated that incorporation of 2’-biolabile moieties can be efficiently used to improve siRNA stability and uptake without major toxicity. To further pursue her interest and contribute to the oligonucleotide therapeutic field, Annabelle joined Prof. Anastasia Khvorova’s lab in the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School as a postdoctoral associate in 2016. There, she made major contributions to the development of novel chemistries for improving the delivery and uptake of oligonucleotide therapeutics. She was able to design and identify novel conjugated siRNAs that enable safe and robust silencing in various extra-hepatic tissues including muscle, heart, and lung. This crucial discovery allows for the targeting of several new targets for therapeutic intervention. Recently, Annabelle joined the oligonucleotide team at AstraZeneca as an Associate Principal Scientist to further help advancing oligonucleotide therapeutic technologies.

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