Viral Immunopathology Unit

Within: Bosch Institute, Discipline of Pathology

Head of laboratory

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Overview

We are interested in the neurotropic flavivirus, West Nile virus, and how our immune response, in trying to get rid of virus infection, lethally damages the host nervous system in this response.

We are studying the pathogenesis of West Nile virus encephalitis to understand which components cause lethal damage in the brain and which are crucial for virus clearance.

We are also investigating early immune responses to infection in specialised organs and sites, including the brain, the skin, the genitourinary tract, the embryo and the eye, as being the key to modulating this process before damage occurs.

Research achievements

Research conducted by this unit focuses on the immunobiology of cell membrane surfaces, with particular emphasis being placed on studying the processes which control cell membrane architecture and the modulation of cell surface molecules (specifically, those which are involved in immune cell interactions). Much of the work carried out in this laboratory concerns the flavivirus West Nile Virus, which curiously brings about an increase in major histocompatibility, as well as increased antigen and adhesion molecule expression in mammalian cells following infection. For a virus, this is a seemingly suicidal action, because this increases the efficiency of the adaptive immune response. However it is clear that the adaptive immune response contributes to the pathogenesis of disease; that is, the anti-viral immune response causes immunopathology.