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Virus-Host Interactions

We investigate the interactions of animal and human highly pathogenic viruses with the host they infect, and the innate immune response, with the aim of identifying crucial cellular components in the infection that will be used as targets to develop new vaccine or antiviral strategies. For this purpose, we use high-throughput, proteomics and trancriptomics.

Grupo de investigación dependiente del

​​ Biotechnology 

We are developing therapies against highly pathogenic human and animal viruses like SARS-CoV-2, Ebola and African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV) based on virus-host interaction and innate immunity studies. We have identified cellular components that are crucial for viral infection, including viral entry, virus decapsidation, autophagy, and regulation of apoptosis. African Swine Fever virus causes an acute and fatal infection in domestic pigs with a high socioeconomic impact in Europe and Asia today, reaching in its advance to Western Europe to Germany. Our aim is to increase the knowledge about the mechanisms to develop the infection in order to find targets for new vaccination strategies. In addition, the identification of key molecules that are crucial for a virus to successfully complete its replication cycle has generated the possibility of making cells resistant or sensitive to the viral infection.

Investigation

Our scientific objective is the knowledge of the mechanisms of viral pathogens to cause emerging diseases and developing tools to combat them. 

Our approach always maintains a perspective of contributing to animal and human health from the One Health concept. 

We study the interaction of viral genes with cellular molecules to characterize the functions of viral genes and their manipulation of cellular functions. We use new multidisciplinary techniques such as Proteomics, Trancriptomics and Lipidomics to develop therapies against emerging viruses that are highly pathogenic for their human or animal host: 

- SARS-CoV-2, 

- EBOV, 

- African swine fever ASFV 

Our group has an international recognition in ASFV, which causes the most important RE-EMERGING ANIMAL disease given its economic impact at present. 

Our work has been focused on understanding both at the molecular and cellular level and in the infected animal:

- the pathogenesis causes by the virus, 

- the role of certain genes in virulence, 

- the evasion of the immune defense,  

- the entry and replication of the virus, and

- identify targets for antiviral compounds

We have contributed to the mechanism of entry of the virus in its transit through the endocytic pathway and the intracellular reorganization caused by the virus during infection to form its replication factory. 

My team aims to obtain a global vision of the interaction of the viruses and to use this information to develop intervention strategies against the disease. 

This work will lead to the development of:

- new vaccine candidates and 

- antiviral drugs and how 

- effectively combine a containment strategy using antiviral drugs with vaccination.

​We have made contributions to the control of the cellular response to infection and the role of various viral genes in the execution of this control:

- the viral homologous gene to Bcl2 that regulates cellular autophagy and apoptosis,

- the DP71L gene that regulates reticulum stress and controls protein synthesis

- the regulation of the immune system by the ubiquitin-conjugase of the virus.

We have described virulence genes whose selection produces virus attenuation and possible vaccine candidates. Our group was first in:

- identifying a direct interaction between a structural protein of a virus, p54 of VPPA and the microtubule motor protein dynein,

- characterizing its function of transporting the virus in the cell through the microtubules.

- we defined the 3D binding surface of both proteins by means of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and

- we synthesized peptide sequences that are capable of competing with viral protein-cellular protein binding.

- identifying cellular kinase PIKfyve as a target for a virus

We have developed applications of our research as shown by several families of granted patents:

- Antiviral molecules with peptide sequences of binding to the motor protein dynein

- Functionalised nanoparticles for use as a vehicle for vaccines and drugs, in collaboration with the Aragon Institute of Nanosciences (INA) for applications such as vaccines, diagnosis, drug delivery, manipulation of difficult-to-transfect cells, gene therapy, etc.

- Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs against highly pathogenic viruses such as Ebola or SARS-CoV-2

Miembros

Coordinador de Grupo

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