We study how RNA viruses amplify, mutate and cause disease
In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 50-100 million people. Unfortunately, equally devastating viruses can emerge at any moment. In the 21st century, we have already seen outbreaks of the Ebola virus, avian influenza (H5N1 and H7N9), coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) and Zika. In addition, viruses are costly: influenza alone costs the USA $90 billion per year. Clearly, we need to gain a better understanding of how these viruses amplify themselves in humans and how they cause disease.
The amplification of an RNA virus relies on the activity of an enzyme called the RNA polymerase. We use biochemical and single-molecule techniques to study how this viral enzyme works (an engineering problem) and how it contributes to viral pathogenicity (a cell biology/virology/immunology problem). Our main focus is the influenza A virus RNA polymerase.
If you are interested in our work, please get in touch or email ajwt6[at]cam.ac.uk.