Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Virus research at St Andrews University given 1m boost

Man blowing nose
The virus family includes pathogens responsible for the common cold

A research group at the University of St Andrews has won more than £1m to investigate the world's oldest known and most diverse family of viruses.

The Picornavirus Group is dedicated to studying the Picornaviridae family of viruses which includes many pathogens affecting humans and animals.

These range from the common cold to polio and foot-and-mouth disease.

The funding will allow the group to learn more about the viruses, and help develop ways of controlling them.

The money is recognition of the progress already made at the university, where virus protein sequences have been identified and developed for use in biomedicine and biotechnology.

Such proteins have allowed major advances in human gene therapies and the production of stem cells.

Understanding how viruses multiply within cells enables development of new strategies to control virus infections
Professor Martin Ryan
St Andrew's University

Building on this research, the Picornavirus Group will study foot-and-mouth disease virus replication within cells using a non-infectious form of the genome.

It will also further develop virus protein sequences for use in the co-expression of multiple proteins in both animal and plant cells, and develop new biotechnological and biomedical applications arising from this work.

Professor Martin Ryan, who leads the group, said: "Understanding how viruses multiply within cells enables development of new strategies to control virus infections.

"In the course of this work, we have learnt one of the major 'tricks' used by these viruses and have adapted this for use in biomedicine and biotechnology.

"This research funding will allow us to extend the applications for human gene therapies and other biotechnologies."

The funding comes from the Welcome Trust (£188,000), the Medical Research Council (£430,000), and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (£509,000).

The Picornavirus Group is funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.



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