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Research overview

Major outbreaks of childhood infections by pathogens such as the mumps and measles viruses continue to cause significant illness in young children despite the availability of effective vaccines. Additionally, infections with viruses for which there is no vaccine – such as parainfluenza viruses - lead to significant numbers of children needing intensive care treatment in hospital. Collectively, these viruses are known as paramyxoviruses, and includes viruses that infect and cause disease in humans and other animals. In addition to being clinically relevant pathogens, they serve as exceptional models in the laboratory for studying how we and other animals respond to viral infections – knowledge that has the potential to be translated into effective treatments.

Using a multidisciplinary approach, the objective of our research is to gain a deeper understanding of virus-host interactions, particularly how we respond to infections (innate immunity and the interferon response) and how viruses have evloved to counter these responses.

A major focus of the lab is to gain insights into the importance of posttranlational modifications such as ubiquitin-like (Ubl) proteins (such as ubiquitin, NEDD8, ISG15 & SUMO) during viral infection.  As obligate intracellular pathogens, viruses are capable of rewiring cellular networks, and many have been shown to utilise these modification for their own benefit, or to antagonise their effects during the antiviral response. Therefore, a deeper understanding of their importance during viral infection may lead to the development of novel antiviral compounds. Indeed, we have recently shown NEDDylation is a viable target for the treatment of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) malignancies, such as primary effusion lymphoma (PEL). We study a number of viruses, including herpesviruses and paramyxoviruses.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

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