Rational Design of Peptide Nucleic Acid Conjugates for Biomedical Applications

Life Sciences, Drug Discovery & Development, Preclinical, Laboratory Technology,
  • Thursday, December 15, 2022

A peptide nucleic acid (PNA) is a synthetic pseudo-peptide oligomer, analogous to a natural oligonucleotide, but in which the sugar-phosphate backbone is replaced with a polyamide backbone. Owing largely to their neutral and non-natural backbone, PNAs offer higher melting temperatures, greater sequence specificity as well as significantly enhanced duplex stability and chemical stability when compared to their natural counterparts. Due to these unique physicochemical properties, they have been widely investigated as powerful biomolecular tools, including molecular hybridization probes and antigene agents in diagnostic and therapeutic applications.


Recently, microRNAs have emerged as highly promising non-invasive cancer biomarkers found in ‘liquid biopsy’ samples. They are a class of short non-coding RNA, which hold great promise as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers as well as therapeutic targets due to their gene regulatory functions and dysregulated patterns in many diseases, including cancer.

In this webinar, the featured speaker will demonstrate the rational design of bespoke peptide nucleic acid conjugates for translational applications, namely microRNA detection and antisense microRNA-based therapeutics. One example will explore ‘clickable’ PNA probes for the biofunctionalization of 2D materials enabling ultrasensitive electrochemical detection of microRNA. Another example will demonstrate how PNA probes can be tailored to enable UV-triggered and highly efficient bioconjugation within graphically-encoded hydrogel microparticles for multiplexed detection of microRNA. In addition, the speaker will introduce the design and preparation of cell penetrating peptide (CPP)-conjugated PNAs for carrier-free delivery of anti-microRNA therapeutic agents into target cells. All examples will use probes that have been synthesized using solid phase peptide synthesis strategies with Fmoc chemistry on the Purepep Chorus automated synthesizer.

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The speaker will present various physicochemical characterization studies, including mass spectroscopy, liquid chromatography, XPS and electron microscopy to validate successful synthesis and bioconjugation onto 2D and 3D substrates. Ultimately, this webinar will establish the immense potential of PNA-based technologies in cancer diagnosis and therapy through exploiting rational design and robust chemistries.

Register to learn more about the rational design of peptide nucleic acid conjugates for biomedical applications.


Dr. Dana Alsulaiman, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Dr. Dana Alsulaiman, Assistant Professor of Material Science and Bioengineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST)

Dr. Dana Alsulaiman is an Assistant Professor of Material Science and Bioengineering at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). Her group focuses on developing advanced biomaterials and next-generation technologies for minimally-invasive disease diagnosis and personalized therapy based on the detection of an emerging class of cancer biomarkers called circulating cell-free nucleic acids.

At the intersection between polymeric materials and microtechnologies, her research includes advancements in encoded hydrogel microparticles, stimuli-responsive microneedles and point-of-care microfluidics with optical and electrochemical readouts. These platforms rely on the rational design and synthesis of functional biopolymeric materials, including hydrogels and synthetic oligomer hybridization probes based on peptide nucleic acids.

Dr. Alsulaiman is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards, including the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Healthcare Technologies Award in 2019 and MIT Technology Review’s Innovator’s Under 35 Award (MENA) in 2021.

Message Presenter

Who Should Attend?

  • PhD candidates, postdocs and scientists in the fields of peptide synthesis, biosensor development and antigene/antisense therapeutics
  • Entrepreneurs and industrial partners interested in advanced biosensors and personalized therapies for cancer

What You Will Learn

Attendees will learn:

  • How to rationally design and synthesize peptide nucleic acid (PNA) conjugates to target specific biomedical applications (biosensing and therapeutics)
  • How to exploit robust and versatile chemistries in the bioconjugation of PNA conjugates
  • How to physicochemically characterize PNA conjugates

Xtalks Partner

Gyros Protein Technologies

Gyros Protein Technologies enables peptide synthesis and bioanalytical solutions that help scientists increase biomolecule performance and productivity in research, drug discovery, pre-clinical and clinical development, and bioprocess applications. Our low to mid-scale peptide synthesizer platforms are the PurePep® Chorus, Symphony® X, and PurePep® Sonata®+. These solutions and our chemistries deliver uncompromising purity, flexibility, and quality for discovery and pre-clinical studies of simple to complex multifunctional peptides. Proprietary high performance nanoliter-scale immunoassay platforms, Gyrolab® xPand, Gyrolab® xP workstation and Gyrolab xPlore™, are used by scientists in leading pharmaceutical, biotech, CRO, and CMO companies for bioanalytical applications such as pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics, immunogenicity, and quantitating bioprocess-related impurities. Our peptide synthesis and bioanalytical solutions accelerate your discovery, development, and manufacturing of safer biotherapeutics.

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