LAURA HERTEL, PhD
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RESEARCH
Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is usually acquired during childhood and does not normally cause symptoms in healthy people, but can be the source of disease, long-term disability and even death in children who acquire this virus from their mother during pregnancy. In addition, CMV can cause substantial morbidity and organ rejection in transplant recipients, whose immune system is significantly depleted as part of standard preparations for accepting donor organs. Because of this, the development of new antiviral therapies and of an anti-CMV vaccine is urgently needed.

Once acquired, CMV persists within infected people for the rest of their life in a dormant form, called latency. Periodically, this virus re-emerges from latency in a process called reactivation, and can spread to new individuals. The ability of this virus to remain latent for long periods of time without ever being eliminated by the immune system renders the development of novel treatment and prevention therapies particularly difficult.

CMV TROPISM FOR ORAL MUCOSAL CELLS
CMV transmission is thought to occur by contact between virus shed in the urine or saliva of a donor and cells within the oral cavity of a recipient. A major goal of our research is to identify the type of oral mucosal cells targeted by CMV during transmission, and the viral and cellular factors supporting infection initiation and progression, with the ultimate goal of developing innovative vaccines to prevent CMV transmission.

CMV TROPISM FOR MYELOID CELLS
CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells and their progeny are important sites of CMV latency and reactivation, as well as of lytic infection. Using single-cell transcriptomics tools, we seek to identify the viral and cellular mediators of infection of different types of myeloid cell populations, to isolate new targets for antiviral intervention.

MC148 AND ATOPIC DERMATITIS
Atopic dermatitis is a chronic eczematous skin disease that usually begins in childhood, is often hereditary and for which there currently is no cure. Therefore, the areas of very itchy, inflamed and irritated skin produced by this disease are usually treated with hydrating creams or topical steroids. The goal of this research is to determine if MC148, a protein made by the Molluscum contagiosum virus, can inhibit the influx of activated dendritic cells in the skin of eczema patients, thus reducing inflammation and improving skin health.

UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland press release

News • Medical Life Sciences press release

 

Revised: Monday, April 8, 2019 1:51 PM

 


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