Skip to Content
Exit Menu
Dr Michael Themis

Dr Michael Themis
Reader - Health and Safety

Research Interests

Research Focus (h-index 32, Google Scholar)

His research expertise covers gene therapy and its related genotoxicity to the genome, stem cell biology and cancer. His team is currently funded on projects related to gene therapy vectors and their side effects on the host. His expertise in adenovirus, retrovirus and lentivirus gene therapy vectors biology enables his research to be world class. He recently won the SBRI Innovate UK, NC3Rs InMutaGene CRACK-IT Challenge Phase I and with GeneWerk, Germany, won the Phase II award to develop a novel platform to assess the genotoxic risk of LV and AAV vectors using a human induced pluripotent stem cell platform. This work is also supported by GSK. His group is currently reprogramming these cells to numerous cell types representing organs that are intended for gene therapy. This model will ultimately make available genotoxicity testing in a personalised manner.  His research is also concerned with gene therapy of several genetic diseases including Cystic fibrosis, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, familial hypercholesterolaemia, haemophilia B and Freidriech ataxia (FRDA) for which mouse models exist. He also holds Ataxia UK award for his FRDA gene therapy research.

He has over 60 peer reviewed publications in gene therapy periodicals.

He collaborates world wide with leaders in the field of gene therapy

Research awards: Wellcome Trust, MRC, SPARKS, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Brunel BRIEF Award, Ataxia UK/FARA Australasia and US and MRC NC3Rs/Innovate UK, GSK, N4Pharma and ICure

Patents

A Suspension Culture Cell Line Capable of Producing Retrovirus Particles

Combinations and methods for promoting in vivo cell proliferation and enhancing in vivo liver-directed gene transductions

Transgenic organism (Oxford BioMedica)

A fetal and neonatal model for vector safety and design. P38561GB/TF

Method of testing a gene therapy vector’ UK Patent Application GB 2564437 A. PCT/GB2018/051937

Method of predicting the likelihood of success of gene therapy’ PCT/GB2017/05288. EU IP 17797413.6

Major presentations

NC3Rs Case Study presentations July 2019 (Invited speaker)

Swiss Toxicology Society, Switzerland, Nov 2018 (Invited speaker)

Hammersmith poster for business Oct 2018

NC3Rs London, Cancer Gene Therapy Workshop, Nov 2018 (Invited speaker)

Novartis, Basel, 2018

SEHTA, Brunel University, Oct 2018 (Invited speaker)

GSK research meeting, Stevenage Nov 2018 (Invited speaker)

British Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 2018 (Invited speaker)

Ataxia UK, Pisa, Italy 2017

British Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 2017 (Invited speaker)

Ataxia UK, Windsor 2015 (Invited Speaker)

Genethon, Evry, Paris 2013 (Invited Speaker)

Clinigene, Luca, Italy 11th 2009 (Invited Speaker)

FARA, Ataxia UK 2012, University of Pennsylvania, USA (Invited speaker)

Gene Therapy workshop, Jerusalem, Israel 2010 (Invited Speaker)

RAHMS, Paphos, Cyprus 2008 (Invited Speaker)

RAHMS Paphos, Cyprus 2010 (Invited Speaker)

Royal Veterinary College, Potter’s Bar, Hatfield, 2009 (Invited Speaker)

The 3rd Stem Cell and Clonality and Genotoxicity Retreat, Orlando, Florida. USA, 2006 (Invited speaker)

Clinigene during the 14th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Athens, Greece, 2006 (Invited speaker)

The 9th Annual Meeting of The American Society for Gene Therapy, Baltimore. USA, 2005 (Invited speaker)

The 13th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Prague, Czech Republic, 2005 (Invited speaker)

The 3rd Annual Workshop “Viral Vectors” of the Gesellsschaft fur Virologie (GFV) and 12th Annulal Meeting of the German Society of Gene Therapy, Germany (2005), (Invited speaker)

The 8th Annual Meeting of The American Society for Gene Therapy, St. Louis. USA, 2005 (Invited speaker)

The 2nd Annual Meeting of The British Society of Gene Therapy, 2005. ‘A potential in vivo model to test for the safety of lentivirus gene therapy vectors’ (Invited speaker)

The 7th Annual Meeting of The American Society for Gene Therapy, Minneapolis. USA, 2004 (Invited speaker)

The 11th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Edinburgh, Scotland, 2003 (Invited speaker)

The 6th Annual Meeting of The Society for Gene Therapy, Washington. USA, 2003 (Invited speaker)

The 10th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Antibes, France, 2002 (Invited speaker)

The 5th Annual Meeting of The Society for Gene Therapy, Boston. USA, 2002 (Chosen speaker)

The 29th British Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Birmingham, Great Britain, 2001 (Invited speaker).

The 4th Annual Meeting of The Society for Gene Therapy Seattle, USA, 2001.

The 9th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Antalya, Turkey, 2001 (Invited speaker)

The 8th Annual Meeting of the ESGT Stockholm, Sweden, 2000

Research supervision

The Division of Biosciences is currently offering PhD projects for EU and overseas students who can support their own funding for research. Dr Themis has a number of internationally competitive projects that will provide students who are successful in their applications the opportunity of a sound basis for a career in science relating to gene therapy, stem cell and cancer biology using mouse models of disease, Students are invited to contact Dr Themis by e-mail: michael.themis@brunel.ac.uk to obtain detailed information on the projects on offer.

Grants

A human IPS cell model for gene therapy vector safety evaluation
Funder: National Centre for the Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research
Duration: January 2017 - December 2019

Gene therapy genotoxicity project

Research project(s) and grant(s)

Current Projects

  • Development of a yeast model to produce lentivirus gene therapy vectors
  • Identification of genome instability caused by retrovirus and lentivirus vectors
  • Development of a model for lentivirus vector genotoxicity

Grants

Previous

  • Wellcome Trust VIP award 076078/Z/04/Z. M. Themis 01/05/05-30/10/05: £42,259.00
  • MRC strategic project grant G0300340. N. Fisk, M. Themis, M. Huseyin and M. Alison 2004-2007: “Human fetal mesenchymal stem cell fate after intrauterine transplantation” £194,240.00
  • MRC-component project grant G001134 (N. Fairweather, C. Coutelle, M.Themis) “Targeted gene delivery to the CNS using neurotrophic fragments of tetanus toxin” 01/04/2002-31/03/2005: £323,311 including £78,521 overheads (36,996 to our Division)
  • The Wellcome Trust M. 06487/Z/01/Z. (Alison, M. Themis, M. Gordon, N. Wright). “Haemopoietic stem cell therapy for the treatment of liver disease” 01/09/2001-31/08/2004: £150,000.0 no overheads.
  • SPARKS  02MP01(C. Coutelle, M. Themis) “Novel lentivirus vectors for gene therapy of CF”, 01/10 /2003-30/09/2006: £125,333 no overheads
  • MRC Co-operative award. G9805886. (M. Seabra, T. Cook, C. Coutelle, M. Dallman, N. Fairweather, T. Hussel, C. Huxley, C. Loyd, C. Rodeck, M. Themis). “Animal models to study human disease” 01/12/2003-30/11/2008: £309,000.0 including £90,548.0 overheads
  • MRC Research Studenship to Ms Maxine Holder (C.Coutelle, M.Themis) “Development of a lentiviral vector system based on Equine Infectious Anaemia Virus for use in liver specific adult and fetal gene therapy” 2001-2004
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association (C. Coutelle, D. Wells, M. Themis, L. Gregory, S. Waddington) "An in utero approach to gene therapy for Duchenne/Becker muscular dystrophy" 2003-2004, $80,000.
  • Muscular Dystrophy Association Pilot project No number (C. Coutelle, D. Wells, M. Themis, S. Waddington) “Lentiviral gene transfer to fetal muscle cells” 01/04/2003-31/03/04: £53,33 ($ 80,000) including £3,949.0 overheads
  • MRC strategic project grant (C. Coutelle, C. Huxley, M. Themis) 1999-2002: "The development of somatic gene therapy for the treatment of cystic fibrosis” £413,220.
  • Brunel BRIEF Award 2007-2010: “An investigation to determine the molecular mechanisms of genotoxicity leading to oncogenesis associated with lentivirus vector infection”. (£15,000)
  • Ataxia UK/FARA M. Themis and M. Pook (2011-2014) ‘An investigation to determine the efficacy and safety of lentivirus mediated FXN gene delivery for the correction of Friedreich ataxia’. (£91,420)
  • Ataxia UK. Themis and M. Pook (2016-2017) ‘An investigation to determine the efficacy and safety of lentivirus mediated FXN gene delivery for the correction of Friedreich ataxia’. (£5,000)
  • CRACK-IT Innovate UK InMutagene Phase I 2015-2016 ‘A human IPS cell model for gene therapy vector safety evaluation’ (£99,544)
  • CRACK-IT Innovate UK InMutagene Phase II 2016-2019 ‘A human IPS cell model for gene therapy vector safety evaluation’ (£700K, £348,669 to Brunel).
  • Brunel PhD Scholarship award, 2016-2019 ‘Mapping genes involved in liver cancer via insertional mutagenesis’ 
  • GlaxoSmithKline Scholarship award, 2017-2023 ‘An Investigation into the Impact of Integrative Gene Therapy Vectors on the Health, Functionality and Mutagenesis of T cells Intended for CAR-T Therapy’ (£48,562).

    Innovate UK, 2018-2019 ‘Establishment of a human iPS cell based cardiac gene therapv safety model’ (£146,554).

    iCURE, 2017-2018. ‘Gene Therapy Toxicity Testing’ (35,000).

    N4 Pharma, 2019-2019 ‘An investigation of nanoparticle transfection in human cells’ (24,613.16).