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Virus diseases continue to be major global health problems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies infection with measles virus, hepatitis B virus and rotaviruses among the ten most common causes of mortality worldwide; each of them causes more than a million deaths per year. The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) seems certain to join them in the 'top ten' as the AIDS pandemic develops. Viruses causing significant mortality and morbidity continue to emerge (or to be described for the first time) including Ebola, Hepatitis C virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpes virus. On the plus side, research on virus-cell interactions has provided, and may continue to provide, valuable insights into normal cellular mechanisms.

The Course

The course aims to develop such an understanding of the ongoing threat to individuals and populations posed by virus infection through its comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of virology. It starts with the molecular biology of viruses (organisation and expression of genetic information, mechanisms of entry and exit, principles of virus structure). The consequences of virus infection are then considered at the level of the individual cell (cytopathic effects, cell transformation) and in the multicellular host (immune responses, mechanisms of pathogenesis, latent and persistent infections, tumour induction). These principles are illustrated with reference to the major virus diseases of humans and animals. The final section concentrates on epidemiological aspects of virus infection (routes of transmission, antigenic variation) and approaches to the control of virus disease (vaccination, chemotherapy, public health measures). Biotechnological aspects of viruses are covered in lectures on gene therapy and vaccine development.

Research Projects

Staff and students in the Virology Division of the Pathology Department pursue a wide range of research interests. DNA virus topics include herpes simplex virus latency, the roles of herpesvirus glycoproteins in entry and egress, mechanisms controlling infection, replication and latency of a mouse gamma 2- herpesvirus and the cellular and multicellular interactions of human papillomaviruses. RNA virus topics include influenzavirus replication, virus entry mechanisms and virus use of unusual translational mechanisms. We have extensive contacts with virologists in the Department of Medicine. Their interests include human cytomegalovirus transcription and the roles of RNA structures in retrovirus replication. Research projects will be offered in both the Virology Division and the Department of Medicine These projects will be carried out on the Addenbrooke’s site.

Examples of Current/Previous Projects

2009-2010 Projects

  • Analysis of the inner tegument protein encoded by the UL37 gene of HSV-1.
  • Deep sequencing of new H1N1 swine influenza isolates.
  • . Investigating herpes simplex virus reactivation from neuronal latency.
  • Characterization of RNR (ribonucleotide reductase) encoded by murine gammaherpesvirus-68 (MHV-68) and its related homologues.
  • Killing of porcine and avian influenza viruses by common household cleaning agents.
  • Termination codon suppression in epsilonretroviruses.
  • Cellular miRNA regulation by HCMV during latency.
  • The Role of Hantavirus N Protein in 43S Pre-Initiation Complex Recruitment.
  • Studies of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency-associated viral gene, product LUNA.

2010-2011 Projects

  • Influence of RALBP1 and PLD2 on the trafficking of influenza a virus vRNAS to the apical plasma membrane.
  • The role of HSV1 glycoprotein h in membrane fusion.
  • Analysis of the tegument protein encoded by the UL37 gene of HSV-1.
  • The amino acid requirement for herpes simplex virus replication.
  • Characterisation of MuHV-4 Thymidine Kinase.
  • The extended use of “disposable” surgical masks and respirators during an influenza pandemic.
  • Investigation of the processing of the HIV-2 GAG Polyprotein in Pimerisation - peficient mutant viruses.
  • Termination codon suppression in murine endogenous retrovirus MuERV-L.
  • Analysis of the human cytomegalovirus latency-associated gene, UL138, and its role in Monocyte Chemoattraction.