New project aims to find the genetic basis of colds

A new set of research projects is seeking funding to focus on understanding the genetic mechanism behind viral infections and colds such as the virus that caused the deadly SARS outbreak and one that nearly killed seven members of the US military last year.

The project aims to identify a range of molecules known as the herpes virus as well as factors involved in preventing the virus from causing disease in humans.

The aims of these projects project include understanding how herpes virus infection is better prevented by providing a protease inhibitor Antibody and Vaccine production and Standby alpha1 family members while also testing global immune responses to the virus that should help prevent it from becoming a leading cause of illness in the world.

The projects aim to improve our understanding of the viral infection and learning how to treat viral infections (and perhaps prevent future ones).

Overall the project will aim to move into an eventual 48-hour clinical stage of the virus replication process. These preliminary findings will then be compared to finalized research projects or experimental hypotheses that will help inform the search.

People involved in the project include Nana Kirschenhagen professor at the Department of Molecular Biology at the University of St Andrews in the UK Richard Betty Professor of Molecular Biology and Mine Varo former postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Molecular Biology now Division of Laboratory Medicine NIHR Centre for Clinical Evaluative Health.

Nana said:

There is a major gap in our knowledge about the viruses that cause common colds in people and there are clear differences between the viruses that cause viral colds in animals and humans.

The project aims to fill this gap by combining science and emerging biomedicine to help us to catch the virus at its earliest stages to discover what is early on and then use this to leverage synthetic understanding of how the virus stays in our system and ultimately to provide us with a safer and more effective vaccine.

Thus far two large follow-up projects have been undertaken involving The Department of Molecular Biology at the University of St Andrews funded by the Biomedical Research Council and other partners.

These follow up studies aim to address a critical knowledge gap (or time gap) that we have been able to detect during past studies and identify a viral intermediate that tells us viral infection status and the significance of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as a marker of viral adaptability.

We also seek to understand how medical interventions can influence the viral environment and the variability of viral infection magnitude.

Jonathan Ball Head of The Department of Molecular Biology University of St Andrews.