Cookie Settings

We use cookies to optimize our website. These include cookies that are necessary for the operation of the site, as well as those that are only used for anonymous statistic. You can decide for yourself which categories you want to allow. Further information can be found in our data privacy protection .


These cookies are necessary to run the core functionalities of this website and cannot be disabled.

Name Webedition CMS
Purpose This cookie is required by the CMS (Content Management System) Webedition for the system to function correctly. Typically, this cookie is deleted when the browser is closed.
Name econda
Purpose Session cookie emos_jcsid for the web analysis software econda. This runs in the “anonymized measurement” mode. There is no personal reference. As soon as the user leaves the site, tracking is ended and all data in the browser are automatically deleted.

These cookies help us understand how visitors interact with our website by collecting and analyzing information anonymously. Depending on the tool, one or more cookies are set by the provider.

Name econda
Purpose Statistics
External media

Content from external media platforms is blocked by default. If cookies from external media are accepted, access to this content no longer requires manual consent.

Name YouTube
Purpose Show YouTube content
Name Twitter
Purpose activate Twitter Feeds

Research Group DNA Vectors

Dr. Richard Harbottle

Schematic depiction of the episomal replication and maintenance of a scaffold matrix attachment region (S/MAR) DNA vector associated with Chromatin Looped Domains (CLD). SAF-A: Scaffold attachment factor protein A; ?: Auxiliary transcription/ replication proteins.

Our research is focused on generating novel, next-generation DNA vectors for gene therapy. We have developed a vector system, which is uniquely suited for the genetic modification of cells – it provides persistent expression and episomal maintenance without the use of potentially toxic viral components or the risk of insertional mutagenesis. Additionally, it provides unlimited capacity allowing the unrestricted development of exquisitely designed and endogenously controlled genetic vectors which can comprise entire genomic loci. We have demonstrated the utility of these vectors in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo. The use of eukaryotic chromosomal components allows the design of clinically relevant, episomally sustained replicating DNA vectors that can be used to confer persistent expression of biologically relevant or corrective genes. We were the first to demonstrate the utility of the S/MAR vector system for in vivo application and showed its ability to sustain long-term transgene expression. We also showed by removing the extraneous bacterial sequences from the vector and utilising minicircles we could improve its efficiency and reduce its toxicity. We have recently shown the utility of this vector system to provide persistent genetic modification and phenotypic correction of dividing cells in culture and for ex vivo application. Novel cell-lines can be simply prepared and can be readily utilised for cell marking studies, stem-cell differentiation and in vivo tumour modelling.

We are focused on preparing the next generation of our DNA vectors which have optimised promoters and cloning elements to facilitate the incorporation of new genes and other genetic components. We are currently applying these vectors to a range of established and new projects.

Generation of persistently expressing tumour cell-lines for the development of cancer gene therapy

In this project we are producing DNA vectors using ubiquitous and specific promoters to generate constructs, which are suitable for producing sustained expression of reporter and corrective genes in tumour cell-lines. These genetically modified cells will be used to generate xenograft models and longitudinal studies of gene expression and tumour tracking will be assessed using standard laboratory procedures as well as the utilization of a state of the art bioimaging system. They will then be utilised in the evaluation of anti-tumour genetic therapies.

Development of minimally sized DNA vectors for the genetic modification of stem-cells

We are utilising our DNA technologies to generate an S/MAR minicircle system which addresses the limitations of current nonviral vectors. These vectors will be utilised to safely and persistently genetically modify a range of stem-cells where we will evaluate their genetic integrity through cell division and differentiation. This novel genetic technology will provide improved tools not only for gene therapy but for personalised medicine, stem-cell research and transgenesis.


Dr. Richard Harbottle
DNA Vectors (D420)
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum
Im Neuenheimer Feld 280
69120 Heidelberg
Tel: +49 6221 424978

Selected Publications

  • Roig-Merino, A. , Urban, M., Bozza, M., Bullen, L., Büchler-Schäff, M,. Stäble, S., van der Hoeven, F., Müller-Decker, K., Mckay, T.R., Milsom, M.D., & Harbottle R.P. (2022) An episomal DNA vector for the persistent genetic modification of pluripotent stem cells and their differentiated progeny Stem Cell Reports
  • Hongu, T., M. Pein, J. Insua-Rodríguez, E. Gutjahr, G. Mattavelli, J. Meier, K. Decker, A. Descot, M. Bozza, R. P. Harbottle, et. al. (2022). Perivascular tenascin C triggers sequential activation of macrophages and endothelial cells to generate a pro-metastatic vascular niche in the lungs. Nature Cancer 3(4): 486-504.
  • Bozza, M., de Roia, A., Correia, M., Berger, A., Tuch, A., Schmidt, A., Scolnick, J., Zörnig, I., Jäger, D., Schmidt, P. and ?Harbottle R.P. (2021) A non-viral, non-integrating DNA Nanovector platform for the safe, rapid and persistent manufacture of recombinant T Cells. Science Advances.
  • Bozza, M., Green, E.W., Espinet, E., De Roia, A., Klein, C., Vogel, V., Offringa, R., Williams, J.A., Sprick, M. and Harbottle, R.P. (2020) Novel Non-integrating DNA Nano-S/MAR Vectors Restore Gene Function in Isogenic Patient-Derived Pancreatic Tumor Models. Mol Ther Methods Clin Dev, 17, 957-968.
to top
powered by webEdition CMS