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Dr Andrew Davidson

Research activities in the laboratory focus on investigating the replication and pathogenesis of Dengue virus and coronaviruses (including MERS-CoV and feline coronavirus). High-throughput transcriptomic and proteomic approaches are being used to increase our understanding of the virus host interaction with an overall aim of developing improved antiviral agents, vaccines and diagnostics. Synthetic biology approaches are being used to produce a novel platform for future vaccine delivery. 

Dengue virus

The dengue viruses are spread by mosquitoes and infect up to 390 million individuals annually in sub-tropical and tropical regions of the world. Dengue disease has emerged as the most important arthropod-borne viral disease of humans. Dengue virus infection generally results in dengue fever, a debilitating but self limited febrile disease. However, complications may arise, leading to the potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndromes (DHF/DSS). Despite intensive research over recent years, the pathogenesis of DHF/DSS is still poorly understood and there is neither a safe and effective vaccine nor suitable anti-viral treatments to control dengue disease.

Current investigations in the laboratory focus on understanding the role of specific viral proteins in the virus lifecycle and the role they play in perturbing host cellular processes. Our studies use a dengue virus reverse genetic system, in combination with structural, biochemical and high throughput transcriptomic and proteomic approaches to achieve these aims. The basic research approaches are also being translated to the analysis of clinical specimens from dengue infected patients with the overall aim of identifying prognostic biomarkers for dengue disease severity.

MERS coronavirus

Middle-East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a novel disease of humans that emerged in 2012, resulting in 2090 cases and 730 deaths to date (October, 2017). The etiological agent of MERS is a coronavirus which are enveloped, positive-strand RNA viruses that are commonly associated with enteric and respiratory diseases.  In collaboration with Dr David Matthews we are using a high-throughput transcriptomic-proteomic approach to investigate the interaction of MERS-CoV with human, camel and bats cells to better understand virus pathogenesis.