Almost 50 years ago, scientists conceptualized using functional gene copies to treat genetic disorders. Fast forward to this decade, nucleic acid delivery technologies have been crucial in the fight against a global pandemic. Recent advancements have also paved the way for approved nucleic acid therapeutics that treat infections, cancer, dystrophies, and inherited disorders. However, delivering nucleic acid therapeutics is challenging due to degradation and immune response.
One of the researchers tackling this challenge is Dr. Hassan Fakih. Dr. Fakih completed his Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the American University of Beirut. He then earned his Ph.D. in Chemistry from McGill University in Montreal. Currently, he is serving as a Postdoctoral Associate at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School.
Dr. Fakih celebrates his convocation at McGill University with his parents and mentor, Professor Hanadi Sleiman.
Dr. Fakih’s primary research focuses on the application of DNA nanocarriers in biomedicine. Specifically, he is involved in the design and evaluation of DNA-based nanocarriers for nucleic acid therapeutics, with a particular emphasis on developing cost-effective, biocompatible, specific, and stable nanocarriers that can facilitate faster progress into clinical trials.
In this research, Dr. Fakih and his colleagues explored the use of a specific type of nanoparticle called Spherical Nucleic Acids (SNAs) to enhance the effectiveness of genetic therapies. They focused on investigating how different polymers used in the nanoparticle affected its physical properties and ability to deliver a specific type of genetic material known as an antisense oligonucleotide. The results revealed that the choice of polymer had a noticeable impact on the nanoparticle’s characteristics and its capability to deliver the genetic material. These findings emphasize the importance of exploring various designs and polymers when working with SNAs.
Concurrently for another project, Dr. Fakih was awarded a prestigious post-doctoral fellowship from the Hereditary Disease Foundation. The Foundation supports innovative research to cure Huntington’s disease. And it is worth noting that the Foundation was behind identifying the Huntington’s disease marker in 1983 and the HD gene in 1993.
Hopefully, Dr. Fakih’s project can have a similar impact on the landscape of Huntington’s Disease therapeutics and, consequently, therapeutics of other brain disorders. The fellowship will support his research endeavors aimed at developing nanoparticles capable of delivering siRNAs to the brain. By doing so, these siRNAs could be able to target disease-causing RNA for degradation in a sequence-specific manner.
The Sleiman Lab congratulates Dr. Fakih on his P.h.D. in a unique, slam dunk way.
Beyond his research aspirations, Dr. Fakih exhibits a keen interest in science communication and the intersection of science with policy and management. He is passionate about incorporating scientific knowledge into various realms. In his leisure time, Dr. Fakih indulges in sports, particularly basketball, which he played at a varsity level.
SASTA is immensely proud to congratulate Dr. Hassan Fakih on his recent contributions to the cutting-edge field of nucleic acid therapeutics. Dr. Fakih has proven to be quite the role model for young Arab researchers with his passion, commitment, and expertise.