PhD thesis

New nanoprobes for ultrasensitive in vitro detection on miRNA as cancer biomarker in serum


Gold nanoflowers (AuNF), superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), miRNA, cancer

Administrative informations:

Thesis director : Igor CHOURPA

Co-director : Katel HERVE-AUBERT

Research Unit: UPR 4301 CNRS, équipe Nanomédicaments et Nanosondes (

Founding from 01-10-2024 to 30-09-2027 : ministry grant

Employer: University of Tours


To apply, please send us a CV, a motivation letter and all transcripts from the baccalaureate. Application deadline: 01/04/2024


Profile and required skills

The candidate should have skills at least in one of the following domains : analytical chemistry (spectroscopy, chromatography), chemistry (organic/inorganic synthesis), physical chemistry, nanomedicine. In addition, the candidate must have a good ability to work both in a team and independently.

Abstract of the research project

This thesis project aims to develop an innovative bio-analytical approach for the quantification of very low concentrations of miRNAs (miRs) present in the serum of cancer patients. Indeed, miRs are well known as biomarkers for the diagnosis of cancers and/or for the prognosis of the effectiveness of treatments. Given the very low serum concentrations of most of the miRs of interest, their efficient detection and quantification remains a challenge. To meet this challenge, we have already developed the first generation of magnetic nanoprobes of miRs based on superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION) as part of Iveta Vilimova’s thesis. With these magnetic nanoprobes, we succeeded in re-concentrating the captured miRs by a factor of 3 to 4, making it possible to improve their detection by qPCR. In order to further gain sensitivity and eliminate one of the critical steps which is the desorption of miRs from nanoprobes, we propose to develop an approach in which magnetic nanoprobes will be combined with gold nanoflowers. These nanoflowers generate a SERS response (surface-enhanced Raman scattering) whose detection limits are in the picomolar range (see thesis of Mathias Pacaud). Thus, by bringing together the innovations and developments made during the two recent theses that we both co-supervised, we intend to obtain greater advances in the quantitative detection of the miRs of interest present in human serum.


1. Formation of miRNA Nanoprobes—Conjugation Approaches Leading to the Functionalization. I. Vilímová, K. Hervé-Aubert, I. Chourpa. Molecules, 2022, 27, 8428.

2. Two-step formulation of magnetic nanoprobes for microRNA capture, I. Vilimova, I. Chourpa, S. David, M. Souce, K. Herve-Aubert. RSC Advances, 2022, 12(12), 7179-7188.

3. One-step synthesis of gold nanoflowers of tunable size and absorption wavelength in the red & deep red range for SERS spectroscopy. M. Pacaud, K. Hervé-Aubert, M. Soucé, A. Abdelrahman Makki, F. Bonnier, A. Fahmi, A. Feofanov, I. Chourpa. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy, 2020, 225, 117502.