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I’m isolating and manipulating the Hepititis A virus in the lab, to understand how it hijacks and infects cells. This will help us understand how the infection then spreads through the bodyDr Elisabetta Groppelli
University of Leeds
1.4 million cases of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) are reported annually worldwide. HAV infection is acquired through faecal-oral transmission mainly via contaminated water and food, and the viruses are able to survive on inert surfaces, human skin, food and sewage for long periods of time. Their high resistance to extreme temperatures (freezing and heating) and low pH means that common chemical and physical agents are ineffective in inactivating the virus.
HAV actually causes more serious disease burden in developed countries, as their improved economic and sanitary conditions reduces childhood infections, resulting in accumulation of more vulnerable adults. This provides the potential for extensive outbreaks, which is especially dangerous as adult-acquired infections are associated with more severe symptoms (i.e. fever, diarrhoea, nausea, jaundice) and carry a higher risk of fatal outcomes than in children, who generally do not experience noticeable symptoms. There is no specific treatment for HAV. Although effective vaccines against the virus are available, its availability is currently limited due to the difficulty in producing it on a large scale.
Dr Elisabetta Groppelli from the University of Leeds will use her research grant to investigate the mechanisms through which HAV initiates infection. This research will lay the foundations for the development of anti-viral strategies that block the infection.
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Infectious diseases – Viral hepatitis
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Around 300 million people worldwide are living with viral hepatitis; research is needed to provide better diagnostic and treatment options to help prevent the 1.3 million deaths that occur each year. The Medical Research Foundation is proud to support the global aim of eliminating viral hepatitis by funding research projects lead by promising and talented researchers.
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