During a virus infection, non-standard viral genomes containing genomic rearrangements or truncations are generated in addition to the standard virus genomes. The principal investigator of this project Carolina Lopez and her team recently demonstrated that during infection with prototype paramyxoviruses, non-standard viral genomes are essential to elicit the host immune defense system that controls the virus, and when present at early stages of the infection, they protect from severe disease. Based on this, Carolina Lopez and co-PI Won-Keun Kim (Hallym University, Republic of Korea) propose that non-standard viral genomes can be harnessed as both antivirals and biomarkers of disease progression. In the project “Modulation of Henipaviruses copy-back viral genomes as a novel antiviral target” they will establish a research pipeline starting from the characterization of the non-standard viral genomes of the lethal henipaviruses. In addition, they will study their immunostimulatory functions and identify factors that modulate their generation. The overall goal is to identify novel biomarkers of disease progression and to set the stage for harnessing their antiviral potential against dangerous pathogens. The project is hosted at Washington University in St. Louis, USA and will commence in March 2023 and run for 3 years.
Picture: Carolina Lopez (to the right)