Prof Amin Hajitou

This webinar will be held on zoom. The structure of the event will be a presentation followed by audience Q&A. Please register to be sent the joining instructions. You can pre-submit questions for the Q&A section when registering.

This webinar is part of the series

Molecular Level Understanding is Crucial for Targeted Drug Delivery in the Brain

The theme discussed in this webinar will be:

Development of the bacteria viruses, bacteriophage, into a delivery technology for therapeutic nucleic acids against cancer and other human diseases


Gene therapy has faced a major problem: the lack of an efficient systemic gene delivery platform technology. Unquestionably, eukaryotic viruses have been the vectors of choice for gene delivery to mammalian cells; however, they have had limited success in systemic gene therapy. This is mainly due to undesired uptake by the liver and reticuloendothelial system, broad tropism for mammalian cells causing toxicity, and their immunogenicity. On the other hand, prokaryotic viruses such as bacteriophage (phage) have no tropism for mammalian cells but can be engineered to deliver genes to these cells. However, phage-based vectors have inherently been considered poor vectors for mammalian cells. We have reported a new generation of vascular-targeted systemic hybrid prokaryotic-eukaryotic vectors as chimeras between an adeno-associated virus (AAV) and targeted bacteriophage (termed AAV/phage). In this hybrid vector, the targeted bacteriophage serves as a shuttle to deliver the AAV transgene cassette inserted in an intergenomic region of the phage genome. As a proof of concept, we assessed the in vivo efficacy of vector in animal models of cancer by displaying on the phage capsid the double cyclic Arg-Gly-Asp (RGD4C) ligand that binds to alphav integrin receptors specifically expressed on the angiogenic tumor blood vessels and tumor cells. The ligand-directed vector was able to specifically deliver imaging and therapeutic transgenes to cancer, including brain tumors, in mice, rats, and dogs while sparing the normal organs.


Professor Amin Hajitou

Faculty of Medicine, Department of Brain Sciences, Professor of Targeted Therapeutics

Amin Hajitou completed his PhD at The University of Liège, Belgium. During his PhD work he acquired extensive experience in gene delivery technologies using eukaryotic viral vectors. Then, he completed his postdoctoral training in the world leading MD-Anderson Cancer Center in Texas-USA, where he gained expertise in bacteriophage (phage)-guided gene delivery and phage display technologies in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, he designed a novel hybrid phage vector for targeted gene transfer. The hybrid phage showed first success of systemic gene targeting to cancer in vivo. His team and independent groups reported efficacy of intravenous cancer gene therapy in rodents and pet dogs with natural cancers.

In 2008, Hajitou established his research team as a Lecturer, at Imperial College London, where he became Senior Lecturer in 2013, then Reader in 2016 and Professor of Targeted Therapeutics in 2019. His research team has become a leading authority in phage-guided gene delivery technologies, focusing on optimisation and development of superior phage derived vectors for Nucleic Acid delivery to human diseases including DNA vaccines. His leadership in the field has resulted in various awards for his research, numerous high profile publications and more than 6 patent applications, with most already granted in the USA. His patents have contributed to the creation of two start-up companies in the USA; he also is a Scientific Co-Founder of a Spin-Off company at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA.

Other webinars in the Molecular Level Understanding is Crucial for Targeted Drug Delivery in the Brain series

About The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering

The Institute for Molecular Science and Engineering (IMSE) is one of Imperial College London’s Global Institutes, drawing on the strength of its four faculties to address some of the grand challenges facing the world today. The Institute’s activities are focused on tackling problems where molecular innovation plays an important role.

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