Savvas Ioannou

Engineering extracellular vesicles derived from human mesenchymal stem cells

About me

Savvas completed his undergraduate degree (BSc Molecular and Cellular Biology, 2016) and master’s degree (MRes Biomedical Sciences, 2017) at the University of Glasgow. During his master’s he worked at the Paul O’Gorman institute for Dr Xu Huang  on the characterisation of RUVBL1/2; members of EP400 epigenetic regulatory complex in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. He continued on working at the Centre of Cellular Microenvironment for Prof Matthew Dalby exploiting the maturation of osteoblasts using a novel mechanical technique termed nanokicking. After his masters he worked for a year with Prof Pat Monaghan at the University of Glasgow on her latest project on Circadian disruption and telomere dynamics. He now started his PhD at the University of York working with Paul Genever on mesenchymal stem cells and also using budding yeast.

My project

Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are small, membranous, secreted carriers of proteins and nucleic acids that enable cell-cell communication. They are evolutionarily conserved (from yeast to human) and there is a growing interest in the use of EVs in diverse biotechnological applications, particularly those secreted by intrinsically regenerative cell types such as adult stem cells. We have engineered several immortalised human clonal mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) lines and demonstrated that they produce different types of EVs. In theory therefore, these immortalised human cell lines may be used to produce an inexhaustible supply of MSC-EVs. However, being able to control the efficiency of EV generation, the EV cargo and target cell type would have distinct biotechnological advantages. My project will build on the knowledge and experience in yeast genetics and EV biology to develop bioengineered MSC-EV production platforms.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Characterise native MSC-EVs and optimise their isolation.
  • Direct and/or enrich cargo-loading in MSC-EVs
  • Engineer MSC-EVs to target specific cell types.


Twitter: @Savvasioannou