Identification of key factors modulating viral pathogenicity and development of broad-spectrum antiviral therapies
Viral infections can result in important morbidity and mortality worldwide as observed with the recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2. Respiratory diseases are the leading cause of death in children under 5 years, followed by diarrheal disease and malaria. Most respiratory infections are caused by viruses, rather than bacteria. Apart from SARS-CoV-2, predominant etiological agents of respiratory infections are rhinovirus, influenza virus and respiratory syncytial virus. Viruses are also the most frequent causes of severe infections of the central nervous system. Among neurotropic viruses, enteroviruses account for the majority of viral meningitis and for 10-20% of identifiable cases of viral encephalitis. Despite this major public health problem, supportive care is the only therapeutic option against most of these pathogens. A better understanding of their pathogenesis is therefore needed to develop effective antiviral drugs and vaccines.
The aims of the research carried out in my laboratory are to study the pathogenesis of respiratory and neurotropic viruses in relevant tissue culture models (with special emphasis on rhinoviruses and enteroviruses); to determine the genetic determinants of specific features such as virulence, dissemination and neurotropism and to develop innovative, effective and broad-spectrum antiviral therapies.