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Virology

Introduction

Viruses cause diseases that are major threats to the health and wellbeing of humans and animals across the globe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies lower respiratory tract infections and diarrhoeal diseases, many of which are caused by virus infections such as influenza and respiratory syncytial viruses (respiratory), or rotaviruses and noroviruses (gastrointestinal), among the top ten most common causes of mortality worldwide. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is also still a major global health concern despite the availability of effective antiviral drugs. Viruses with the potential to cause significant mortality and morbidity continue to emerge including Ebolaviruses, MERS virus and Zikavirus. Furthermore, viruses are a leading cause of cancer, including papillomaviruses, Hepatitis B virus and the herpesviruses Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi-Sarcoma herpesvirus. On the plus side, research on virus-host interactions has provided, and will continue to provide, valuable insights into normal cellular physiology and the immune system. To meet the global health challenges posed by virus infections, it is vital to continually increase our understanding of how viruses infect and replicate within hosts, cause disease and evolve.

The Course

The course aims to develop an understanding of the ongoing threat to individuals and populations posed by virus infection through a comprehensive and up-to-date presentation of virology. The course covers many details of the molecular biology of different types of viruses (organisation and expression of genetic information, mechanisms of entry and exit, principles of virus structure). The consequences of virus infection are 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. Epidemiological aspects of virus infection (routes of transmission, antigenic variation) and approaches to the control of virus disease (vaccination, chemotherapy, public health measures) are also covered.

Research Projects

Staff and students in the Virology Division of the Pathology Department pursue a wide range of research interests on many different viruses and their interactions with hosts. We also have extensive contacts with virologists in the Department of Medicine and Department of Veterinary Medicine and research projects may be offered in these. The majority of projects are located in laboratories on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus on the Addenbrooke’s Hospital site.

Examples of Current/Previous Projects

2016-2017
  • Analysis of the latency-associated cellular proteome during human cytomegalovirus latent infection.
  • Transcriptional slippage in positive-sense RNA viruses.
  • A molecular analysis of protein-directed ribosomal frameshifting and readthrough.
  • Regulation of the early and late promoters of "high-risk" and "low-risk" human papillomaviruses.
  • Investigation of virus-cell interations that influence HSV-1 replication.
  • How does the UL51+UL7 protein complex promote herpes virus infection?
  • Structure, function and antiviral properties of the interferon-inducible protein viperin.
  • Protein-RNA interactions that modulate virus translation.
  • Investigating restriction factors of influenza using CRISPR/Cas9.
  • Shutting down NF-κB activation by vaccina virus protein N1.
  • Charactarisation of RNA structures required for human norovirus replication
  • Does the antiviral protein SAMHD1 influence mitochondrial function?
  • Control of human cytomegalovirus viral dissemination by virus specific CD4/CD8+ T cells and NK cells.
  • Characterisation of the vaccinia virus intracellular enveloped virion trafficking complex.
2015-2016
  • Development of low cost reagents for diagnostic use in developing countries.
  • Regulation of the Early and Late Promoters of “high-risk” and “low-risk” Human Papillomaviruses.
  • Where is the persistent infection phenotype encoded in murine norovirus strain MNV-O7?
  • Investigation of polyomavirus non-lytic egress.
  • The Development of a Genotypic Resistance Assay for Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2.
  • How do population age structure and rates of virus evolution shape the frequency and age distribution of influenza virus infections?
  • Purification, Optimization and Preliminary Crystal Studies of MPP8 C Terminus.
  • Characterising the action of vaccinia virus protein F3 on the NF-κB signalling pathway.
  • Modulation of Ubiquitylation by Vaccinia Virus Protein B14.
  • A Molecular Analysis of -1 Programmed Ribosomal Frameshifting in Theiler's Murine Encaphalomyelitis Virus.
  • Investigation activation of RIG-1 by Influenza suppressing RNA decoys in transgenic pigs.
  • The Effect of the Influenza A Virus M2 Protein on Autophagy.