Research in the laboratory involves the molecular identification and subtyping of viral pathogens such as influenza and HCV, understanding their biological properties and mode of action at the molecular level, and the development of antivirals to respond to their infection. The technological approaches we develop allow us to characterise viruses (including oncoviruses) into different subtypes, develop specific treatments, and also help advance ‘omics’ and informatics approaches for their use in clinical practice.
A current research focus concerns the development and application of molecular based methods, particularly mass spectrometry, to improve the identification, characterization and responses to viruses that cause infectious disease and cancer. A particular focus has been to arrest the impact of the influenza (FLU) virus. Influenza is responsible for as many or more deaths in Australia today than most individual causes of human cancers, with the exception of lung cancer. Furthermore, an estimated 15 percent of all human cancers worldwide are associated with viral infections. Improving our ability to identify and respond to such disease causing viruses is essential to reducing their burden on public health.
Recent work has involved the identification and development of new antiviral inhibitors to combat viruses associated with influenza and hepatitis by exploring their mode of action using experimental and computational approaches. We have also developed a new phylogenetics approach to improve our ability to study and better understand the evolution of viruses, with a view to reducing their impact. Innovative new mass spectrometry based methods and bioinformatics approaches and computer algorithms have been developed and employed to characterise influenza viruses, and other biopathogens, at the molecular protein level without sequencing.
A new structural biology approach employing a protein footprinting technology (also known by the acronym RP-MS) has also been developed in collaboration and applied to study proteins and complexes important to human vision. The impact of early onset oxidative damage on their structural integrity associated with cataract, a leading cause of blindness worldwide, has been investigated.
Group members work on computional or experimental aspects of these projects, or in some cases both. Projects are tailored to the interests and expertise of group members. Qualified individuals interested in joining the group should send their CV and transcripts to the laboratory CI Prof. Kevin Downard.
Infectious Disease Responses Laboratory