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Delivering gene therapies

Jessica Kretzmann

Studying at UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

As a young child passionate about science and the world around her, it’s no surprise Jessica Kretzmann is pursuing a PhD in chemistry and nanotechnology.

Studying at UWA and the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research, Jessica is working to develop a safe and efficient method to deliver gene therapies. In particular, her work focuses on the potential treatment of breast cancer with gene therapies.

“So far, we’ve had really exciting results with the polymers I’ve designed in this respect, and we have managed to ‘turn on’ a tumour suppressor gene efficiently in a breast cancer model in both cell-based and in vivo studies. The success of my research has now opened opportunities to collaborate internationally with other research groups”

Jessica Kretzmann

Jessica is also passionate about outreach work, having been awarded the Australian Nanotechnology Network Young Ambassador Award for 2015 and 2016, which allowed her to travel to rural schools and promote science and nanotechnology.

“The inspiration for the school visits comes from my own experience in rural schools. Having completed the majority of my primary school years in Karratha, I loved when Scitech’s travelling scientists visited or when the local wildlife sanctuaries brought animals in for us to see. As for my research, I watched a lot of documentaries growing up, and I was especially fascinated by science with a medical application. This excitement naturally led into first a degree in science, and now my research.”

Jessica says the notions surrounding curing cancer with gene therapies is the main impossible she’s tackling, and despite the promising results so far, there is still a long way to go to fully understand the options for treatment and how to deliver the treatment in the safest and most efficient way.

“I’ve never dwelled on what might be considered impossible. In reality, we as a species have achieved so many things that were previously thought ‘impossible’. I’ve found there is a certain type of person who likes to tell you what your ‘impossibles’ are. I had to work hard, I wanted to prove them wrong. My advice would be the same: learn how to use others’ negativity to your own advantage and let it ‘fuel your fire’ rather than bring you down.”

Jessica Kretzmann

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