Dr Aitor Casas-Sanchez


Areas of interest: Glycobiology, Virology, Parasitology, Molecular Biology, Coronavirus, Arbovirus, Kinetoplastids, Vector-borne diseases, Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Aitor obtained a BSc in Molecular Biotechnology from the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2013, after carrying out his BSc thesis at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland). In 2018, he obtained a PhD in Molecular Parasitology from the University of Liverpool (at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, UK), funded by the EU-FP7 Marie Skłodowska Curie GlycoPar ITN. Aitor continued his career as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at both LSTM and University of Liverpool linked to several BBSRC-funded projects until 2020, when he started working on his own-funded projects before becoming a Lecturer at LSTM in 2023.


Aitor’s current research focuses on understanding the biological roles of protein glycosylation in infectious diseases, and on developing new molecular tools that exploit glycosylation to block and prevent infection. In particular, Aitor focuses on protein glycosylation in arboviral (e.g., dengue, Zika, and chikungunya fevers) and coronaviral diseases. Previously, Aitor’s research involved the development of vaccines against African trypanosomiases based on the discovery and characterisation of new surface antigens (1), and the study of trypanosome development and molecular interactions within the tsetse vector (2).


UKRI-DEFRA One Health Approach to Vector Borne Diseases (£1,249,749). Understanding, forecasting, and mitigating zoonotic mosquito-borne viral disease in the UK, 2023-2026 (Co-I).
Wellcome Trust Institutional Partnership Translation Award (£43,918). Glycosylation inhibitors as both therapeutic and vaccine-enhancing agents for COVID-19, 2022-2023 (PI).
Jean Clayton Fund - LSTM (£2,500). Preclinical validation of N-glycosylation inhibitors as COVID-19 therapeutics, 2022 (PI).
UKRI COVID Ideas - BBSRC (£286,948). Exploiting glycosylation against COVID-19, 2020-2022 (Co-I).
BBSRC IAA University of Liverpool (£14,871). Role of actin remodelling in SARS-CoV-2 entry, replication, and release, 2020-2021 (Co-I).
LSTM/MRC Director’s Catalyst Fund (£49,139). Exploiting glycosylation against SARS-CoV-2, 2020-2021 (PI).


Aitor has supervised 21 students (16 MSc, 1MRes, 4 BSc) and tutored 7 MSc students at LSTM.

Aitor has extensive teaching experience at LSTM where he lectures in diverse courses (BSc, MSc, and DTM&H) on molecular virology, virus and parasite transgenesis, molecular and cellular biology of kinetoplastid parasites, anti-parasitic drugs and protein structure. For many years, Aitor has also led laboratory practical sessions on transgenesis, polymerase chain reaction and protein structure. In addition, Aitor has also taught externally at Imperial College London, and has co-run a laboratory module at the world-renowned MBL Biology of Parasitism course in Woods Hole - USA (2021-2023).


Certificate of scientific excellence. American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Washington DC - USA (2019)
Best talk prize. Kinetoplastid Molecular and Cellular Biology Meeting, Wood Hole - USA (2019)
Travel Grant. ANTI-Vec GCRF, London - UK (2019)
PhD Fellowship, EU-FP7 Marie Curie GlycoPar ITN (2014-2018)
Erasmus internship, EU (2013)
General Fellowship, Ministry of Education Spain (2008-2013)

Selected Courses

CRISPR-Cas9 in Kinetoplastids, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil (2018)
Vaccinology Summer School, Leiden - Netherlands (2018)
Home Office Animal Personal Licence A/B, UK (2018)
Biology of Parasitism Course - Modern Approaches, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole - USA (2017)
GlycoPar GlaxoSmithKline Industrial Workshop, Tres Cantos - Spain (2017)
GlycoCan ITN Mass Spectrometry of Glycans Workshop, Oxford - UK (2016)
GlycoPharm ITN Glycobiology School, Braga - Portugal (2015)

Selected Conferences

British Society for Parasitology, Edinburgh - UK (2023)
British Society for Parasitology, York - UK (2022)
EMBL The Next Generation in Infection Biology (2022)
Brazilian Society of Protozoology Meeting (2021)
Molecular Parasitology Meeting, Woods Hole - USA (2020)
TsetseNET Meeting, Accra - Ghana (2020)
American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Meeting, Washington DC - USA (2019)
Kinetoplastid Molecular Cell Biology Meeting, Woods Hole - USA (2019).
Molecular Parasitology Meeting, Woods Hole - USA (2018)
British Society for Parasitology Meeting, Aberystwyth (2018)
British Society for Parasitology Meeting, Dundee (2017)
Gordon Research Conference in Glycobiology, Ventura - USA (2017)
British Society for Parasitology Meeting, Liverpool (2015)
Kinetoplastid Molecular Cell Biology Meeting, Woods Hole - USA (2015).

Professional Membership

British Society for Parasitology

Ad Hoc manuscript reviewer

PLoS ONE, Parasitology, Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal.

Selected publications

  • Casas-Sanchez A, Ramaswamy R, Perally S, Haines LR, Rose C, Aguilera-Flores M, Portillo S, Verbeelen M, Hussain S, Smithson L, Yunta C, Lehane MJ, Vaughan S, Van den Abbeele J, Almeida IC, Boulanger MJ, Acosta-Serrano A (2023). The Trypanosoma brucei MISP family of invariant proteins is co-expressed with BARP as triple helical bundle structures on the surface of salivary gland forms, but is dispensable for parasite development within the tsetse vector. PLoS Pathogens doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1011269.

    Casas-Sanchez A§, Romero-Ramirez A, Hargreaves E, Ellis CC, Grajeda BI, Estevao IL, Patterson EI, Hughes GL, Almeida IC, Zech T, Acosta-Serrano A (2022). Inhibition of protein N-glycosylation blocks SARS-CoV-2 infection. mBio doi:10.1128/mbio.03718-21.

    Dewar CE, Casas-Sanchez A, Dieme C, Crouzols A, Haines LR, Acosta-Serrano Á, Rotureau B, Schnaufer A (2022). Oxidative phosphorylation is required for powering motility and development of the sleeping sickness parasite Trypanosoma brucei in the tsetse fly vector. mBio. doi: 10.1128/mbio.02357-21.

    Romero-Ramirez A, Casas-Sanchez A, Autheman D, Duffy CW, Teixeira MMG, Machado RZ, Coombes J, Flynn RJ, Wright GJ, Jackson AP (2022). Vivaxin genes encode highly immunogenic non-variant antigens on the Trypanosoma vivax cell- surface. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0010791.

    Armstrong L, Djidrovksi I, Georgiou M, Hughes GL, Patterson EI, Casas-Sanchez A, Pennington SH, Biagini GA, Moya-Molina M, Van den Bor J, Smit MJ, Chung G, Lako M (2021). SARS-CoV-2 infects an upper airway model derived from induced pluripotent stem cells. Stem Cells doi:10.1002/stem.3422.

    Casas-Sanchez A*, Rose C*, Dyer NA*, Solórzano C, Beckett AJ, Middlehurst B, Marcello M, Haines LR, Lisack J, Engstler M, Lehane MJ, Prior IA, Acosta-Serrano A (2020). Trypanosoma brucei colonizes the tsetse gut via an immature peritrophic matrix in the proventriculus. Nature Microbiology doi:10.1038/s41564-020-0707-z.

    Patterson EI, Prince T, Anderson ER, Casas-Sanchez A, Smith SL, Cansado-Utrilla C, Turtle L, Hughes GL (2020). Methods of inactivation of SARS-COV-2 for downstream biological assays. The Journal of Infectious Diseases doi:10.1093/infdis/jiaa507.

    Hegde S, Voronin D, Casas-Sanchez A, Saldaña MA, Heinz E, Acosta-Serrano A, Popov VL, Chopra AK, Hughes GL (2020). Gut- associated bacteria invade the midgut epithelium of Aedes aegypti and stimulate innate immunity and suppress Zika virus infection in cells. BioRxiv doi:10.1101/866897.

    Sterkel M*, Haines LR*, Casas-Sanchez A, Owino V, Vionette-Amaral RJ, Quek S, Rose C, Silva dos Santos M, Garcia Escude N, Ismael H, Paine MI, Barribeau SM, Wagstaff S, MacRae JI, Masiga D, Yakob L, Oliveira PL, Acosta-Serrano A (2020). Repurposing the orphan drug nitisinone to control the transmission of African trypanosomiasis. PLoS Biology doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000796.

    Silva Pereira S, Casas-Sanchez A, Haines LR, Ogugo M, Absolomon K, Sanders M, Kemp S, Acosta-Serrano A, Noyes H, Berriman M, Jackson AP (2018). Variant antigen repertoires in Trypanosoma congolense populations and experimental infections can be profiled from deep sequence data with a set of universal protein motifs. Genome Research doi: 10.1101/gr.234146.118.

    Mantilla BS, Marchese L, Casas-Sanchez A, Dyer NA, Ejeh N, Biran M, Bringaud F, Lehane MJ, Acosta-Serrano A, Silber AM (2017). Proline metabolism is essential for Trypanosoma brucei brucei survival in the tsetse vector. PLoS Pathogens doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006158.

    Casas-Sanchez A, Acosta-Serrano A. (2016) Skin deep. eLife doi:10.7554/eLife.21506.