The Division of Virology deals with all issues related to viruses and biological medicinal products. Its central activity is to assess the virological quality of biological medicines. We monitor the quality and production of viral vaccines through the examination of batches before they are put on market; this work is broadly divided into 4 main groups – influenza, polio, live vaccines, inactivated vaccines. We also test for contamination of biological products such as clotting factors derived from human blood for the presence of HIV, hepatitis B/C/A and parvovirus B19.Our groups work on the development and production of standards that support these processes and the development and production of reference materials that support the standardisation of diagnostic assays for clinically important viruses.
The need to cover all things virological meant that our scientists recently investigated the introduction of insect cells to produce human vaccine material required scientific investigation of the issues associated with large-scale production of insect cells and insect viruses.
In the past we have responded to incidents and allegations such as that measles mumps rubella vaccine caused autism and issues with the contamination of vaccines with viruses from monkeys and other sources.
It is essential that we remain up to date with the science to anticipate future issues so vigorous research programmes are vital. There are programmes into understanding the scientific basis of vaccination against the chronic viral diseases HIV and HCV. Next generation sequencing is being developed for a number of relevant applications.
The division also includes the CJD Resource Centre which evaluates assays for CJD, the Centre for Aids Reagents (CFAR) that holds more than 6,000 research reagents that supports research into HIV/AIDs and the Influenza Resource Centre.