Modelling chronic viral infections
Over 200 million people – more than 3% of the world’s population – are infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV).
In the western world there are increasingly effective anti-viral drugs to manage these infections.
Unfortunately most people do not know that they are infected, cannot access or afford the drugs or are infected with drug-resistant variants. As a result, almost 1.5 million people die from chronic infection with these viruses each year.
Developing effective vaccines to prevent infection with HIV and HCV would have a major impact, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and south east Asia. The scientific challenge is to create vaccines that generate better immunity against these viruses than natural infection.
Our group carries out fundamental research to inform the development of vaccines against HIV and HCV.
Using specialist containment facilities and resources at NIBSC, we have established model systems that enable us to understand the complex interaction between these viruses and their hosts which eventually leads to disease – pathogenesis studies – and also evaluate whether experimental vaccines are able to prevent or modify infection – vaccine studies.
Our facilities and expertise have attracted scientists from the UK, Europe and the US to collaborate with us and we have received research grant funding from the Medical Research Council, European Union , International Aids Vaccine Initiative and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Biological materials arising from our studies are stored in a variety of forms. These materials can be shared with scientific collaborators to support their research.