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Full NameDr Ultan Power
Department:Centre for Experimental Medicine
Organisation:Queen's University Belfast
- infectious disease and the immune system
Other Research Fields:
Postgrad Medical Specialties
- Public Health
- Geriatric Medicine
- Infectious diseases
- Respiratory Medicine
My research focuses on 2 major themes:
1. The role of airway epithelium in respiratory virus pathogenesis.
The airway epithelium is the primary target for infection by respiratory viruses. These viruses are responsible for massive morbidity and mortality worldwide. Severe infections with e.g., respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), may lead to chronic lung diseases, such as asthma. Medical interventions to treat or prevent these infections are absent or extremely limited. Our understanding of the pathogenesis of respiratory viruses in humans is rudimentary. We have developed world-leading models of respiratory virus infection based on well-differentiated primary airway epithelial cells, which reproduce hallmarks of RSV disease in infants. We exploit these models to study respiratory virus/host interactions to help identify host factors associated with virus pathogenesis, biomarkers of severe disease and/or targets for therapeutic intervention. (see, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1110203109)
2. Exploitation of Sendai virus (SeV) as a vaccine vector.
SeV is a rodent respiratory virus with huge potential as a vaccine vector. Our current expertise allows us to manipulate the SeV genome to facilitate the expression of vaccine antigens from other viruses. We are currently developing SeV-based vaccine programmes targeting respiratory viruses, such as human and bovine RSV and Nipah virus. (see doi: 10.1128/JVI.00798-10)
Ambitious? Like a big challenge? Want to help elucidate how respiratory viruses cause acute or chronic diseases, such as bronchiolitis, pneumonia or asthma? What about generating novel vaccines against these viruses?
Then come join my team in well-funded research programmes to explore the following major questions:
1. Why dose respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cause severe disease in some infants but relatively mild in others? We will explore human genes that may be associated with severe acute RSV disease by exploiting our world-leading airway epithelium model of RSV infection.
2. How does RSV cause asthma in young children? Severe RSV-induced bronchiolitis is associated with subsequent development of asthma. We will explore human genes turned on or off following RSV infection of airway epithelium from cohorts of children with or without asthma to help identify and characterise host factors associated with the development of asthma subsequent to RSV infection.
3. Can we generate novel vaccine candidates against RSV using our Sendai virus vector system? Despite its medical importance, there are no vaccines available against RSV. We will exploit our Sendai virus vector system to express novel RSV vaccine antigens and characterise the immunogenicity, protective efficacy and safety of these novel vaccines in appropriate animal models of RSV disease.