Professor Andy Mercer and his Virus Research Unit colleagues have been successful in gaining funding in the latest HRC round for their programme 'Exploiting the therapeutic potential of viruses'.
The large complex ‘orf virus’, which is most commonly seen in people who come into contact with infected sheep, causes severe skin lesions that, remarkably, heal without scarring. Prof Mercer and his colleagues have discovered many novel proteins in the virus that may explain this phenomenon. He has been awarded $4,937,329 from the HRC to develop these orf viral proteins into new therapeutics to help treat acute and chronic conditions.
“This somewhat paradoxical but beneficial use of viruses is a new development with potential benefits to a wide range of human conditions, including skin wounds, cancer, inflammatory disorders and viral infection,” says Prof Mercer.
“The success of large DNA viruses such as the orf virus is linked to their expression of an astonishing array of proteins that manipulate responses to infection. 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.” (extract from the HRC media release),
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