I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science in 2011 at the University of Warwick. During my time as an undergrad at Warwick I developed an interest in virology and the pathogenesis of virological disease. As a result of this I accepted a PhD project in collaboration between the University of Warwick and the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency. My work is based on the lyssaviruses, including rabies virus so for this reason I am based at the AHVLA where there is a high security unit equipped for Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) level 3 pathogens.
The lyssaviruses are distributed worldwide and cause a fatal encephalitic disease which kills over 55,000 people anually. They are divided into three phylogroups based on cross neutralisation and protection with current rabies biologics. It is widely accepted that the rabies vaccines are able to provide protection against phylogroup I virus infection but there is currently no protection against infection with phylogroup II and III viruses. This is where my PhD research is directed.
Supervisors: Dr Ashley C Banyard, AHVLA and Prof Andrew J Easton, University of Warwick
Title: The Lyssavirus Glycoprotein: Investigating Correlates of Protection
Aims: To investigate the importance of individual antigenic sites in a cross protective immune response to the non-rabies lyssaviruses.
Progress: Now, during the final year of the project I have succeeded in optimising the technique of the pseudotype assay to investigate recombinant glycoproteins with antigenic sites swapped between phylogroups. In addition I have successfully generated and rescued full length infectious clones containing the recombinant glycoproteins along with divergent lyssavirus glycoproteins.
Importance: The eventual aim of this research is to feed into projects aimed at generating a vaccine that is able to protect against lyssaviruses of all phylogroups.
jennifer dot s dot evans at warwick dot ac dot uk