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Exploiting the therapeutic potential of viruses

65 months
Approved budget:
Emeritus Professor Andrew Mercer
Health issue:
Inflammatory and immune system
Proposal type:
Lay summary
Unraveling the complex interactions between viruses and humans reveals sophisticated viral replication strategies but, importantly, it also gives unique insights into our own physiology and immune defences. Furthermore, and rather paradoxically, viruses are proving to be an exciting source of new therapeutics for the treatment of a wide range of human diseases. The large complex poxvirus, orf virus, causes severe skin lesions that, remarkably, heal without scarring. Our studies have revealed that this virus expresses an astonishing array of novel proteins that may explain this phenomenon. Some of these viral proteins are secreted from infected cells and dampen inflammation or increase blood supply to infected tissue, while others work within infected cells to protect the virus from our defences. Our goal is to develop these orf viral proteins as new therapeutics for the treatment of acute and chronic human conditions including skin wounds, cancer, inflammatory disorders and chronic viral infection.