Worldwide, viral infections represent major concerns to human health and global food security. From causing 15-20% of cancers to major outbreaks such as the Ebola epidemic in 2014, their effects are far-reaching. For most viruses, vaccines and targeted therapies are not available. Even if they were, many viruses rapidly mutate and develop resistance. Therefore, they represent major biomedical challenges.
Using a multidisciplinary approach, including molecular biology, cell biology and proteomics technologies, the objective of our research is to gain a deeper understanding of virus-host interactions at a fundamental level. In doing so, we may also uncover novel therapeutic targets. The primary rationale for studying drugable cellular processes that hinder virus biology is the potential to identify therapies that viruses find harder to develop resistance to.
A major focus of the lab is to gain insights into the fundamental role of posttranlational modifications such as acetylation and 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.
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