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Dr Antonia Sagona



Assistant Professor


Life Sciences
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 24765 23102
WebLink: Molecular & Cellular Mechanisms of Phage Therapy

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.


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

Research Projects

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  • Mà¸ller-Olsen, Christian, Ho, Siu Fung, Shukla, Ranti Dev, Feher, Tamas, Sagona, Antonia, 2018. Engineered K1F bacteriophages kill intracellular Escherichia coli K1 in human epithelial cells. Scientific Reports, 8, View
  • Sagona, Antonia, P., Grigonyte, Aurelija M., MacDonald, Paul, Jaramillo, Alfonso, 2016. Genetically modified bacteriophages. Integrative Biology, 8, pp. 465-474, View
  • Sagona, Antonia, P., Nezis, I. P., Stenmark, H. (Harald), 2014. Association of CHMP4B and autophagy with micronuclei : implications for cataract formation. BioMed Research International, Volume 2014, View
  • Sagona, Antonia, P., Nezis, I. P., Bache, Kristi G., Haglund, Kaisa, Bakken, Anne Cathrine, Skotheim, Rolf I., Stenmark, H. (Harald), 2011. A Tumor-Associated Mutation of FYVE-CENT Prevents Its Interaction with Beclin 1 and Interferes with Cytokinesis. PLoS ONE, Vol. 6 (No. 3), View
  • Sagona, Antonia, P., Stenmark, Harald, 2010. Cytokinesis and cancer. FEBS Letters, 584 (12), pp. 2652-2661, View
  • Nezis, I. P., Shravage, Bhupendra V., Sagona, Antonia, P., Johansen, Terje, Baehrecke, Eric H., Stenmark, H. (Harald), 2010. Autophagy as a trigger for cell death : autophagic degradation of inhibitor of apoptosis dBruce controls DNA fragmentation during late oogenesis in Drosophila. Autophagy, Vol. 6 (No. 8), pp. 1214-1215, View
  • Nezis, I. P., Sagona, Antonia, P., Schink, Kay Oliver, Stenmark, H. (Harald), 2010. Divide and ProsPer : the emerging role of PtdIns3P in cytokinesis. Trends in Cell Biology, Volume 20 (Number 11), pp. 642-649, View
  • Sagona, Antonia, P., Nezis, I. P., Pedersen, Nina Marie, Liestà¸l, Knut, Poulton, John, Rusten, Tor Erik, Skotheim, Rolf I., Raiborg, Camilla, Stenmark, H. (Harald), 2010. PtdIns(3)P controls cytokinesis through KIF13A-mediated recruitment of FYVE-CENT to the midbody. Nature Cell Biology, Vol. 12 (No. 4), pp. 362-371, View

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