Mercer Lab Research
Our Programme of work integrates 2 core themes: (1) combating viruses and (2) exploiting viruses for beneficial purposes,
Viral virulence and pathogenicity
A principal goal of this project is to characterize the interaction between a large DNA virus (orf virus) and infected hosts with the aim of exploiting this information for treatment of human diseases. Orf virus is a member of the same family of large DNA viruses as smallpox virus. It causes scabby mouth in sheep and is readily transmitted to humans. Orf virus infection of sheep provides an excellent model of a natural host-pathogen interaction in an out-bred population.
The success of poxviruses such as orf virus is critically linked to their expression of multiple factors that manipulate host responses to infection. Orf virus encodes a unique repertoire of such factors. The potential for pathogen - encoded analogs of cellular factors to provide new therapeutics is now well recognised and our work is contributing to this growing field, with potential benefits to a wide range of human diseases and conditions.