Interview with Jeanne Leblond Chain


Hello Jeanne, shall you introduce yourself in a few words?

Hello, my name is Jeanne Leblond Chain and I am a senior researcher at INSERM since April 2019. I have a chemistry background but I did all my career in pharmaceutical sciences and my expertise is focused on drug and gene delivery.

Currently, I am group leader of “Targeted Aptamers, Medicines and Sensing” within the ChemBioPharm team of ARNA. This research group is aimed at developing smart delivery systems using lipid nanoparticles – such as the ones used in mRNA vaccines – and aptamers, these small DNA or RNA sequences able to recognize a specific target in the body.

What is you past experience before joining ARNA ? Why did you join this lab ?

Before joining ARNA, I was associated professor at the University of Montreal. I used to teach to pharmacy students and to manage my own research lab. There, I developed pH-responsive lipid nanoparticle for the cytoplasmic delivery of drugs and genes. These particles were stable in the blood for carrier transportation, and were able to release their cargo quickly and massively in the cytoplasm of cells, which is still a great challenge for lipid nanoparticles.

I was interested in ChemBioPharm team because they are experts in bioconjugation of lipids and oligonucleotides, the material I have been working with the most. Our common interest in delivery was obvious. In addition, ARNA lab is a pioneer in aptamer technology, and the best lab in France. These DNA or RNA sequences are able to recognize a target (from a small molecule to a whole cell or tissue) with high affinity and selectivity. They are usually employed as targeting ligands for nanocarriers. Since they are made of RNA or DNA, it is possible to tune their sequence and predict their structural organization. In my project, I would like to use aptamers for several functions: as drug carriers, as targeting ligands, and as dynamic switches that could trigger the release of drugs, in response to a specific disease marker, for instance.

You recently joined ARNA. What are your plans for the future ?

My main goal currently is to develop projects where all my team members could contribute actively. We gather the expertise of design and selection of aptamer sequences, chemical, biochemical, biophysical analysis, nanoparticles formulation, physico-chemical characterization, cell culture etc. This would allow us to develop a nanocarrier from the design to its in vitro and in vivo evaluation. I truly believe that this multidisciplinarity is the key to develop translational project that could be clinically viable.

In particular, I would like to develop aptamers as drug carriers for cancer therapeutics. This project is supported by IdeX and Region Nouvelle Aquitaine. Canceropôle Grand Sud Ouest and La Ligue Contre le Cancer are also supporting project on targeted delivery of oligonucleotides for glioblastoma using aptamers and biodegradable lipid nanoparticles.

In addition, we are optimizing lipid nanoparticle formulation for inhalation in collaboration with CHU Bordeaux, supported by Vaincre la Mucoviscidose.

Finally, one of my ultimate goal is to control the release of a drug according to endogenous stimuli, such as ATP, an inflammation cytokine, a specific neurotransmitter… which could be specific of a disease. In this case, the nanoparticles could be a reservoir of drug, which will be released only if a disease is detected in the body.

Selection of publications:

·      Passos Gibson V., Derbali R.M., Phan H.T., Tahiri H., Allen C., Hardy P., Leblond Chain J.* Survivin silencing improved the cytotoxicity of carboplatin and melphalan in Y79 and primary retinoblastoma cells; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, 2020, 589, 119824.

·      Passos Gibson V., Fauquignon M., Ibarboure E., Leblond Chain J.*, Le Meins JF*. Switchable lipid provides pH-sensitive properties to lipid and hybrid polymer/lipid membranes, Polymers, 2020, 12, 637.- (IF : 3,771)

·      Mbarek A., Moussa G., Leblond Chain J.* Pharmaceutical Applications of Molecular Tweezers, Clefts and Clips, Molecules, 2019, 24(9): 1803 (IF: 3,060).

·      Derbali R.M., Tehrani S.F., Frei G., Aoun G. Campos Del’Orto J., Hildgen P., Roullin V.G., Leblond Chain J.* Tailored nanocarriers for the delivery of levofloxacin against Pseudomonas aeruginosa : a comparative study, Molecular Pharmaceutics, 2019, 16 (5), 1906-1916. (IF: 4,556).

·      Tabatabaei S.N., Derbali R.M., Yang C., Superstein R., Hamel P., Leblond Chain J., Hardy P. Co-delivery of miR-181a and melphalan by lipid nanoparticles for treatment of seeded retinoblastoma, J. Controlled Release, 2019, 298, 177-185. (IF: 8,407).

·      Plourde K., Derbali R.M., Desrosiers A., Dubath C., Vallée-Bélisle A., Leblond J.*, Aptamer-based liposomes improve specific drug loading and release, J. Controlled Release, 2017, 251, 82-91. (IF: 8,407).

·           Viricel W., Poirier S., Mbarek A., Mayer G., Leblond J.*, Cationic switchable lipids: pH-triggered conformational switch for siRNA delivery, Nanoscale, 2017, 9 (1), 31-36 (IF: 7,76)