Virology and Immunology

Virology and Immunology

The Department of Virology and Immunology develops vaccines and therapeutics against viral pathogens, and determines how viruses replicate and spread through basic and applied research.

To defeat viruses that cause AIDS, hepatitis, herpes, hemorrhagic fevers, and a host of other illnesses, scientists in the Department of Virology and Immunology try to attack viruses on two different fronts. First, they examine how viruses replicate and propagate so as to identify their Achilles’ heel. Second, they study how the immune system recognizes a virus and how best to stimulate immune response to clear viral infections. With this knowledge, scientists hope to develop new drug therapies to treat viral infections, as well as vaccines to prevent those infections in the first place.

Giving Texas Biomed virologists advantages in their life-saving quest are two of the Institute’s unique resources. The department’s state-of-the-art facilities include the nation’s only privately owned biosafety level four (BSL-4) maximum containment laboratory. This facility – which has proven especially beneficial in support of the nation’s biodefense efforts – allows Institute scientists to safely study lethal pathogens for which there currently is no known treatment or cure. 

Also extremely valuable are the nonhuman primates housed at the Institute. These animals offer the most effective models for human infectious disease, as well as for the evaluation of therapeutic drugs and vaccines against viral agents.

Overviews

Ebola Research: Role of V&I at Texas Biomed

The viral genus Ebola virus or Ebola is the causitive agent of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The research being conducted by Texas Biomed scientists, in the maximum containment Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratory focuses on developing better detection, prevention and treatment of Ebola. There is currently no vaccine available for Ebola, though a number of potentially promising vaccines are currently being tested in our laboratories.

Hemorrhagic Fever Viruses

Hemorrhagic fever viruses are caused by four distinct families which include arenaviruses and filoviruses for which there is no cure or established drug treatment.  

Hepatitis Research Program

The prevalence of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is estimated at 3 percent worldwide and at more than 2 percent in the United States.

Retroviruses and AIDS

Despite progress made in the fight against AIDS, the World Health Organization still estimates that this devastating disease will take the lives of nearly 68 million people over the next 20 years.

Select Agent Program

Ebola. Lassa fever. SARS. If scientists are going to develop vaccines or therapies to successfully treat these diseases, they need the safest laboratory in the world in which to study them.

Projects

Affymetrix Microarray-Gene Expression Analyses

Intrahepatic Gene Expression During HCV Infection in Chimpanzees

Early events in HIV/SIV transmission

The SIV/macaque model for mucosal SIV transmission to investigate the early events of HIV/SIV infection.

GBV-B: A Surrogate System for Hepatitis C Infection

The chimpanzee is the only animal other than man that is susceptible to HCV infection.

Hepatitis B Virus Research Program

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections represent a major worldwide health problem due to the predilection of this virus to cause lifelong chronic infections; 10% of infected adults and 95% of infected newborns become chronic carriers.

Hepatitis C Virus Research

This research program is a component of one of the four national Hepatitis C Cooperative Centers, The Southeastern Hepatitis C Cooperative Center, which also includes components at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and John Hopkins School of Medicine.

HIV/TB Co-infection

We are developing a neonatal macaque model to study the immunopathogenesis of HIV/tuberculosis (TB) coinfection.

New approaches to an effective HIV vaccine

This project uses an alternative approach to deliver a vaccine to mucosal sites and elicit protective mucosal responses that use epithelial stem cells as a permanent source of viral antigen and their differentiated offspring as antigen-producing presenting cells.

Pediatric AIDS

Our laboratory is investigating the early virus-specific T cell responses in macaques infected with a pathogenic or non-pathogenic strain of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)(an HIV laboratory surrogate).

Simian Immunodeficiency Virus

The AIDS epidemic has spread to over 40 million people worldwide during the last 20 years, yet we are still learning how HIV causes AIDS in humans.

Targeting T Cell Subset for HIV/SIV Treatment

Are γδT Cells HIV/SIV Reservoirs and Targets for HIV Treatment Strategies?

WMHBV: Small Primate Model for Hepatitis B Virus

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections represent a major worldwide health problem due to the predilection of this virus to cause lifelong chronic infections; 10% of infected adults and 95% of infected newborns become chronic carriers.

Resources

Biosafety Level-4 Laboratory

A special advantage in their life-saving quest of the Department of Virology and Immunology’s state-of-the-art facilities include the nation’s only privately owned biosafety level four (BSL-4) maximum containment laboratory.