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Dr Antonia Sagona

Job Title
Associate Professor
Department
Life Sciences
Phone
+44 (0) 24765 23102
Research Interests

I am interested in understanding the mechanisms of bacterial infection and phage therapy inside the mammalian cell environment. The interest in phage therapy has grown increasingly over the past decade, due to the emerging problem of antibiotic resistance in many bacterial pathogens. A major challenge to patient safety is the hospital infections due to gram-negative bacteria resistant to antibiotics. One of the possible solutions to this problem is the use of bacteriophages as antimicrobial agents. Bacteriophages are safe for humans and present high specificity to their bacterial target, while having minimal side effects. However, there are still concerns for phage therapy, over the potential for immune responses, rapid toxin release by the lytic action of phages and difficulty of dose determination in clinical situations. Additionally, there is little knowledge of the cell biology behind phage therapy due to the challenges in the field, and that is an obstacle in the rapid progress of phage therapy.

My aim is to investigate the cell biological mechanisms behind bacterial infection and phage therapy and to optimize phages to be safe for phage therapy. To do that, I plan to establish an in vitro novel model system for phage therapy in mammalian cells. This system, with proper validation, can be used for further in vivo studies, as a promising proof of concept for safe phage therapy, which can treat various human infections.

The main objectives of my research are the following:

  1. To engineer optimized, fluorescent phages, specifically targeting the pathogen of interest.
  2. To understand the cell biology aspects of bacterial infection and phage therapy in a mammalian cell environment.
  3. To expand this system further in in vivo studies and in other organisms.

For my research, I use confocal and live microscopy, advanced molecular biology methods, including CRISPR/Cas9, biochemical and microbiology approaches.

Opportunities:
For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities and interest in potential collaborations, please contact me at the above email address.

Biography

BSC University of Athens, Greece 2003
MSc Microbial Biotechnology, University of Athens, Greece 2005
PhD (Endocyte-Marie Curie Fellow), Centre for Cancer Biomedicine, Medical School, University of Oslo,
Norway 2007-2012
EMBO post-doctoral Research Fellow, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, UK 2013-2015
Research Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, 2015-2016
BBSRC Future Leader Fellow, School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick, 2016-current

Title Funder Award start Award end
The Physics of Bacteriophage-coated antibmicrobial surfaces EPSRC 04 Jun 2018 31 Mar 2022
UK Thailand - Overcoming the opportunistic pathogen Acinetobacter baumannii in Thailand? developing bacteriophages as antimicrobial agents British Council 01 Apr 2018 31 Mar 2020
Engineering synthetic phages against pathogenic E. coli as an innovative tool for phage therapy BBSRC 01 Mar 2016 28 Feb 2019
Contract with Rapifage for 6 month project RAPIFAGE LTD 03 Jan 2018 02 Jul 2018