[Cite as http://purl.org/au-research/grants/nhmrc/153873]
A/Pr Barry Slobedman
Prof Anthony Cunningham
Brief description Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a herpesvirus which infects a majority of the population. HCMV is a significant cause of serious, life-threatening disease in neonates and in people who are immunosuppressed. Transplant recipients such as bone marrow, kidney and heart transplant patients are particularly at risk of developing HCMV disease. Like other herpesviruses, after initial infection HCMV can establish a life-long latent infection. During latency, the virus remains dormant in the human body and no infectious virus is made. However, when conditions are right the virus can awaken (ie reactivate) from its latent state, producing new infectious virus and disease. It is in immunosuppressed individuals such as transplant patients that viral latency and reactivation are of most medical concern, yet viral latency remains very poorly understood. This project has three major components. Firstly, we aim to continue studies which are defining what viral genes are active (ie expressed) during latent infection. Identification of these genes and determination of how they function may have profound implications to our understanding of latency. Secondly, we will examine how human cells are affected when they become latently infected. A new and exciting technology called DNA microarray now makes it possible to examine the expression of many thousands of genes in a single experiment. For the first time, we will be able to determine how the cell changes during latency and reactivation. The study of viral and cellular gene expression during latency may contribute to the development of drugs which interfere with the viruses ability to become latent or reactivate. Thirdly, we have preliminary results which suggest that latent HCMV may actively avoid detection by the immune system. In this project we also aim to determine the mechanism by which the virus interferes with the expression of molecules which are an essential component of our immune system.
Funding Amount $AUD 407,545.90
Funding Scheme NHMRC Project Grants
Standard Project Grant