Virus-derived Immune Modulators
Co-evolution of viruses with their natural hosts invokes an adaptation arms race, where a successful strategy for the virus relies on immune evasion, often targeting key pathways that drive immune activation. Large DNA viruses, such as members of the poxvirus family, are adept at evading the innate immune system via a suite of virulence factors. Furthermore, because viruses are limited in their genomic space, it is common for immune modulating proteins to exhibit multipotent functionality, targeting numerous pathways simultaneously. Translationally, these factors constitute a rich toolbox for developing novel immune modulators.
I work with immune modulators from Myxomavirus, a poxvirus which is pathogenic in European rabbits but not in humans or rodents. Myxomavirus has evolved a highly efficient suite of multipotent immune modulators which target a wide array of pathways involved in immune response. A number of these immune modulators have already proven effective in rodent models of disease as well as in clinical trials in humans.
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