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Human cytomegalovirus (CMV) is usually acquired during childhood and does not normally cause symptoms in normal people, but can be the source of disease and even death in transplant recipients, whose immune system is significantly depleted as part of standard preparations for accepting donor organs. CMV is also a major cause of long-term disability in children who acquire this virus from their mother during pregnancy. 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.

Goal: to identify the key viral and cellular factors controlling CMV infection of dendritic cells (DC), a crucial cell type for the generation of immune responses against pathogens and vaccines.
Understanding how CMV gains access to DC, and how these cells defend themselves from infection is vital for the development of new antiviral therapies and of an effective anti-CMV vaccine.

Goal: to determine the mechanisms by which latent viral genomes are maintained in proliferating CD34+ hematopoietic cells.
Data from this research will support the development of strategies to interfere with long-term carriage of CMV, potentially leading to its eradication from the human population.

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: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 3:15 PM


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