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The Group's research is currently focused in three main areas:

1. How viruses evade immunity

Viruses such as flu, common cold coronaviruses, and SARS-CoV-2 are able to re-infect people throughout their lives, in contrast to viruses such as measles, which typically only infect a person once in their lifetime. They are able to do this in a variety of ways, including via mutation or due to the waning of host protective immunity. Our research uses a combination of bioinformatic and lab-based techniques to study how such viruses evade population immunity. Based on these understandings, we develop vaccines to combat them.

  • Read our study on the antigenic evolution of influenza here.
  • Read our study on population immunity to SARS-CoV-2 at the start of the pandemic here.

2. How the immune system responds to viral infection

An individual’s infection history also influences their ability to fight diseases. In most cases, prior immunity to a virus is protective, whilst in other instances it may be detrimental. Our team has expertise in B-cell immunology which allows us to dissect a patient’s response to vaccination or infection. As well as helping us understand why some individuals have more severe viral infections than others, researching the impact of immune memory on the generation of a protective immune response allows us to make more effective vaccines.

  • Read our study on how prior immunity to seasonal beta-coronaviruses is associated with more severe COVID-19 outcomes here.
  • Read our study on how immunomodulators and biologics impact the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease here.

3. Developing vaccines

Our vaccines are assembled using novel vector technology utilising a synthetic virology approach for vaccine production. We analyse what a specific vaccine needs for each pathogen from first-principles before creating assemblies of protein and RNA/DNA to enable us to induce robust humoral and cellular immune responses.

  • Read about our approach to producing influenza vaccines here.