Virology and vaccinology of negative-strand RNA viruses

Lead Research Organisation: The Pirbright Institute
Department Name: UNLISTED


This project is the leadership, direction and management of the work of a group of PhD students and other science staff, primarily externally funded. The work of the group can be divided into two major parts: (i) the understanding of the basic molecular virology of specific viruses that cause livestock disease, the way the viruses replicate, their dependency on specific host proteins and the mechanisms employed by these viruses to counteract host innate immune responses; (ii) the creation of improved vaccines and tests for diseases of economic importance, in collaboration with institute immunologists and the reference laboratories in the Epidemiology division. The aims of the project are an improved understanding of the mechanisms by which different groups of viruses interact with the host, both at the cell and organism level, and how this may govern pathogenicity and host specificity, and the practical application of molecular biology techniques to the creation or improvement of vaccines against diseases caused by viruses in these groups.
My work is to (a) teach PhD students and direct them in projects that ontribute to these aims, as well as examining and tutoring the students of other supervisors in the institute; (b) develop grant applications for funding that will support the project aims, and then direct the staff funded by those grants; (c) work with other senior staff to manage the laboratory spaces and codes of practice to ensure adequate and compliant working environment for the research to be carried out by the staff and students in the group.
Description We found that rinderpest and peste des petits ruminants virus actively inhibit induction of type 1 interferon, but to very different levels. We showed that another negative strand RNA virus, from a different family entirely, also inhibited interferon induction, but through a totally different mechanism.

Both types of virus inhibit the action of interferon, and interestingly both type of virus act at the same point in the action signalling pathways, the receptor-associated kinases Jak1 and Tyk2.

Methods have been set up to examine the pathology of two important sheep/goat diseases, peste des petits ruminants and Nairobi sheep disease/Ganjam.
Exploitation Route Methods of modifying these viruses to make targeted attenuations have been made. The findings also indicate new elements of the innate immune response pathways which need to be investigated.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The findings have been used as the basis of further research projects.
Description Work for OIE on PPR control
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guidance committee
Impact Input to development of global disease policy for PPR as a livestock disease. This has now become polcy for all countries that are members of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health)