Science for Health
Research in the Division of Virology involves three groups of viruses, influenza, retro- and papillomaviruses. As pathogens, members of all three groups are important for public health; the international surveillance of antigenic variants in the World Influenza Centre, housed in the Division of Virology, monitors for the emergence of novel, potentially pandemic viruses and provides information required for the selection of viruses for inclusion in vaccines. Similarly molecular epidemiology studies of HIV give insights into virus evolution in relation to AIDS development. Human papillomaviruses are major sexually transmitted pathogens that cause genital warts and are involved in the development of cervical cancer; on-going studies of the roles of papilloma virus proteins in natural infections suggest methods to improve the speed and reliability of cervical screening.
Studies of virus replication within the Division of Virology have identified the first virus membrane channel as well as cellular factors giving natural resistance to retroviral infection. Further, the importance of these viruses in medical research goes beyond their roles as infectious agents. They provide, for example, a general model for studying all membrane fusion events. Their study has also provided insights into the differentiation of cells in the immune system and the manner in which antibodies can neutralise viruses.
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