Research News

05 Jul 2018

HKU-Pasteur Research Pole advances the understanding of viral infection mechanism on dengue fever and related flavivirus diseases

Professor Sumana Sanyal, team leader, Tami Zhang and Iolanthe Lan published a paper advancing the understanding of viral infection mechanism of dengue fever and related flavivirus diseases, providing a solid foundation to further the development of effective therapeutic interventions against flavivirus infections. The findings are now published in Cell Host & Microbe, a leading peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Dengue virus is the most prevalent mosquito-borne viral pathogen and has become a global threat in recent decades, causing an estimated 100 million infections worldwide every year. Currently, there is no antiviral against dengue available and the efficacy of corresponding vaccine is yet to be assessed. Thus, there is a strong need to develop therapeutic strategies that can tackle this life threatening disease. 
Understanding the host cellular pathways that are exploited in the course of infection can provide insights into the development of antivirals and vaccine against dengue. A small tag-like regulatory protein, namely ubiquitin, can be added on or removed from other proteins via a mechanism called ubiquitin modification. Ubiquitin modification system has been reported to be involved in a diverse array of infectious diseases including dengue, yet a precise understanding of how ubiquitin modifications regulate either the host or viral components remains unknown. This study aims to address this question.



04 Jul 2018

The Hurdles From Bench to Bedside in the Realization and Implementation of a Universal Influenza Vaccine

Sophie Valkenburg, principal investigator at HKU-Pasteur, and team members Maireid Bull and Athena P.Y. Li  just published, with Nancy H.L. Leung, Li-meng Yan, Leo L. M. Poon and Benjamin Cowling (WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Control, School of Public Health, The University of Hong Kong) the review The Hurdles From Bench to Bedside in the Realization and Implementation of a Universal Influenza Vaccine in Frontiers in Immunology.
“Influenza viruses circulate worldwide causing annual epidemics that have a substantial impact on public health. This is despite vaccines being in use for over 70 years and currently being administered to around 500 million people each year. Improvements in vaccine design are needed to increase the strength, breadth, and duration of immunity against diverse strains that circulate during regular epidemics, occasional pandemics, and from animal reservoirs. Universal vaccine strategies that target more conserved regions of the virus, such as the hemagglutinin (HA)-stalk, or recruit other cellular responses, such as T cells and NK cells, have the potential to provide broader immunity. Many pre-pandemic vaccines in clinical development do not utilize new vaccine platforms but use “tried and true” recombinant HA protein or inactivated virus strategies despite substantial leaps in fundamental research on universal vaccines. Significant hurdles exist for universal vaccine development from bench to bedside, so that promising preclinical data is not yet translating to human clinical trials. Few studies have assessed immune correlates derived from asymptomatic influenza virus infections, due to the scale of a study required to identity these cases. The realization and implementation of a universal influenza vaccine requires identification and standardization of set points of protective immune correlates, and consideration of dosage schedule to maximize vaccine uptake.“

See the review online.